Friday, January 13, 2012

Colonial Georgia founded on the illusian of phylanthropy

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The Georgia Colony was based on the illusion of Philanthropy.


According to the charter of Georgia. No Trustee could own land, make a profit, receive a salary or make income because of their work on the trust. The Trustees must labor for the good of the colony.1 This was indeed a new and bold experiment. On the other hand, the impetus to create a new colony south of the Carolinas was based on the desire to create a buffer between the British colonies and the Spanish in Florida, and a fear that the French would disrupt the Indian trade. So Georgia was created as a sacrificial colony to protect the Carolinas.

James Oglethorpe was the motive force behind the founding of the Georgia Colony. He had made a name for himself while serving as a member of the House of Commons by organizing an investigation into the conditions in debtor’s prisons. This resulted in the release of ten thousand prisoners

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On February 1, 17(February 1, new style) the colonists arrived at the site of what would grow to be Savannah. The leader of the group, James Oglethorpe, and 114 passengers, or 1 heads, children under 1 being counted as less than one head, departed from the Ann.


Oglethorpe was very a capable negotiator and established good relations with the Creeks. He was able to develop a very good relationship with the local chief Tomo-Chi-Chi. In 17 Oglethorpe traveled three hundred miles through the wilderness to attend a meeting of the Creek Nation. He was able to establish a clear boundary between Georgia and the Creek Nation. The Creeks also helped in the war against the Spanish, though after Oglethorpe departed the relationship deteriorated.

Ethnic Make-Up

The first settlers were English. They were followed my both Salsburgers, Lower Scots, Highland Scots, and Jews. The Lower Scots quickly discovered that they couldn’t make a living farming and moved to Savannah. Most of the colonists were British and quite of few paid their own way. There was a group of Morovians who came as indentured servants and settled in Savannah. They refused to accept military duty, and so were unpopular. In 178 and 1740 they moved to Pennsylvania. Though many groups came to Georgia the majority of the colonists were English. After 178, the Trustees sent few charity colonists; instead they sent indentured servants who were sold to colonists, or who worked for the trustees. Indentured servants were easier to control. In the end the Trustees sent about 1,100 indentured servants to Georgia.

Economy 17 � 1750

The Trustees pushed silk and wine production, nether of which proved a success. The Trustees only expected to supply the food for the colonists for the first year, but food production lagged, and they supported many colonists for several years. Early food crops were corn, Indian peas, potatoes and rice. Corn was the most important. There were several reasons for this agricultural failure, sandy soil, swamps that flooded, and hot dry summers, late spring frosts, and lack of experience. These coupled with the townspeople’s’ reluctance to do hard manual labor, made for poor agricultural success. Surprisingly, cattle ranching was successful, but it was ignored because it would not produce a defensive colony. The reason the Trustees promoted silk production was their hope that they could create cheep supply of raw silk for England.

Economy 1750 � 1175

As a royal colony Georgia started to exploit its natural resources land, timber, and deerskins. When slavery was introduced, rice production became viable. Rice and deerskins were the leading exports.

Government 17 - 1754

Under the Trustees Georgia was governed from both London and Savannah. There were 75 Trustees during the life of the trust, and about 10 took positions of leadership. Each meeting would have a new president, and that president would hold office until the next meeting. The Trustees frequently had trouble getting eight Trustees to attend a meeting. The original idea was to finance the colony with contributions, but this didn’t work. So the trustees went to parliament and parliament financed the colony for reasons of imperial defense. The Trustees did not allow the colonists participate in government.

Government 1754 � 1765

The Government of Georgia now took on a British flavor. There was a governor, a Commons House of Assembly, elected by voters, and an Upper House, with the Governors Council sitting as a legislative body. There was little disagreement until the pre-Revolutionary troubles.


Because there was no unifying cultural group, there was no unified religion. Not that there weren’t churches or preachers. According to the Trustees the Georgians were guaranteed liberty of conscience, and all but Roman Catholics could have free exercise of their religion.


Because of the swamps around Savannah and the bad water, about 40 colonists died during the first summer. 60 were ill when an unexpected ship arrived, with a Jewish doctor and all of the stricken colonists survived. The lowlands and rivers of Georgia were prime land for rice cultivation, but until slavery was allowed this potential was ignored. The Pine Barrens were too sandy for many other crops.


Numerous holidays were celebrated, The Kings Birthday, Gunpowder Plot Day, St George’s Day, St Patrick’s Day and St Andrew’s Day were celebrated by at lease some of the people. The colonists had cricket matches and other athletic contest, but the most popular sport was horse racing. Races were held in Savannah, Augusta, Sunbury, and throughout the colony. For the upper class there were readings, plays, musicals and balls. There were taverns, and the most popular form of entertainment was drinking.


The worst hardship the colony suffered was the management of the Trustees. The control that the Trustees exerted slowed the colonies development. Their structured way of allocating land based on defensive needs, instead of viability put colonists at a huge disadvantage. Their limited land grants made it difficult to exploit the natural resources and their obsession with silk cost the colony dearly. To add insult to injury they outlawed rum, and Oglethorpe would break the casks open if he found them!

The Georgia colonial was based on the illusion of Philanthropy. Everyone used Georgia. The Carolinians used Georgia for defense against the Spanish. The British used Georgia as a place to put their excess population, and hoped to use it as a source of raw materials. The Trustees used Georgia to play God, and when they grew tired of the game they abandoned the colony. Oglethorpe used Georgia to forward his career, and succeeded. He became “ The Founder of Georgia, and the Savior of Georgia”. Everyone used Georgia. Only the work of the settlers, and their willingness to ignore the rules saved a few.

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the

blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of

misery.” Winston Churchill

Churchill could have been talking about the Trustee period of Georgia.


1. Kenneth Coleman, Colonial Georgia - A History, (New York Charles Scribner’s Sons, 176), 17

. Coleman, 15


Coleman, Kenneth, Colonial Georgia - A History. New York Charles Scribner’s Sons, 176

Darvis, E. Harold, The Fledgling Province. Chapel Hill The University of North Carolina Press, 176

Professional Website

Public Book Shelf. History of Colonial Georgia. http//

Jen, Andrew, Mike, and Brian “Georgia Colony”


( 18 Feb 00).

Elson Henry “History of the United States of America”. http//

(18 Feb 00)

Sam “Sam’s 1 Colonies Page”


(18 Feb 00)

Jackson Ed “Georgia History”


(18 Feb 00)

The True story of the Georgia Colony

Marketing and propaganda are not twentieth century inventions; they were tools of the trade in the creation of colonial Georgia. There is a myth that the Georgia colony was based on philanthropy and that the trustees had the good of the colonists at heart. Well, it’s just not so. Georgia was created to protect the Carolinas from the Spanish and the French, while reducing the urban poor in England. In essence, Georgia was created as a sacrificial colony.

The belief that the Georgia colony was populated with debtors is just a myth. There are no records of any debtors becoming colonists. The surprising thing is that the settlers were not farmers, laborers or soldiers, the people you would expect to be selected to populate a colony that would need to feed and defend its self. According to the Mercantilistic thinking of the time, farmers and workers were part of what made England strong and so were needed at home. In fact, the Trustees emphasized that their settlers were not productive at home and so England was not losing valuable people and the Trustees were helping to solve the problem of over population. The Trustees were going to populate Georgia with the “poor and unfortunates” from London and other English cities. In short the ne’er-wells that were specifically inexperienced in the skills they would soon need to survive.

After the settlement of Savannah, the placement of outsettlements was used to form a perimeter around Savannah. This was a defensive designed, and was created to give a warning if the Spanish or Indians attacked. Ten families were to settle at each point. In theory this was enough people to defend themselves, Very Reassuring. Tybee Island at the mouth of the Savannah River was important for protection and so ten families were “ordered” to settle there and build a fort. The land was just deep sand and it was impossible to farm. John Wesley said “that the settlers had drunk themselves to death or had gone away and is now is as before a settlement of opossum, raccoons, and the link inhabitants” (John Wesley 177). Once again, the settlers needs were disregarded and they were used for military purposes.

In 176 Oglethorpe set out to explore the coast and claim territory. He claimed land to the mouth of the St. Johns River and built a fort there. He could have used the Creek Indians to support his claim for these new lands, though this was farther south than the charter limits of the Georgia colony. Oglethorpe could not control all this territory. So, why was a claim made? Probably to establish diplomatic pressure on the Spanish.

When the Spanish came to Fredrica to negotiate a treaty, Oglethorpe moved his men and fired cannons in an attempt to convince the Spanish that he had more men than he really did. There is suspicion that Oglethorpe knew of Indian attacks against the Spanish, and that he may have helped to plan them. Both sides signed a treaty in October 176 in Frederica. The treaty said that both sides would try to control their Indian allies, to refrain from molesting the other, and to refer the question of a permanent boundary to their home governments. The later the Spanish government said that the treaty was not binding.

Oglethorpe had grabbed land outside of the colonial charter, used trickery with his men to deceive the Spanish, and probably had used the Indians to attack the Spanish. These acts are not consistent with someone who is trying to preserve the peace and help a fledgling colony to get started. In the summer of 176 the Spanish were planning to invade Georgia. There were rumors in London, and fear in Georgia and South Carolina that the Spanish would invade. Oglethorpe used this fear to ask parliament for ͘ 0,000 lbs. to defend Georgia. He argued that if Spain took Georgia the French would take the Carolinas and Virginia. Oglethorpe was offered the governor ship of South Carolina; he refused � having bigger plans. Oglethorpe agreed to take a military command in America. Parliament awarded him ͘ 0.000 and 700 men to defend Georgia. He was the military commander of Georgia and South Carolina. This post had the courtesy title of general.

A mutiny occurred when the troops demanded full back pay, and one of the mutineers shot at Oglethorpe. His chin was slightly burned. The mutineers were court-martialed and shot.

Oglethorpe’s army, supported by the royal navy, tried to attack St. Augustine but could not breach the walls, and the navy could not enter the harbor. His cannons could not shoot far enough and the British ships displaced too much water. There was enough blame for all.

When the Spanish did invade Georgia, Oglethorpe was brilliant. The battles were fought on St. Simons Island. The Spanish made a few attempts to capture Fredrica and were driven back. A French deserter ruined Oglethorpe’s plans for a surprise attack, and he was worried that the Frenchman would tell the Spaniards how weak Oglethorpe’s force was. So what did he do? “He released a prisoner with a letter to the Frenchman instructing him to try to pilot the Spanish boats and galleys up under the woods where he knew the hidden batteries could destroy them. (There were no hidden batteries) If he failed in this maneuver, he should endeavor to keep the Spanish on St. Simons for at least three more days until reinforcements of two thousand men and six men-of-war arrived. (There were no reinforcements arriving) He was not to mention that Admiral Vernon was about to make a decent on St. Augustine.” (There was no surprise attack) The Spanish quickly left. They were in such a hurry that they left a couple of cannon, and military stores. Oglethorpe pursued, and the Spanish fled all the way to St Augustine. After this great victory Oglethorpe would be known, not only as the founder of Georgia, but the savior of Georgia.

After 178 the Trustees sent few charity colonists, instead they sent indentured servants who were sold to colonists or who worked for the trustees. Indentured servants were easier to control. In the end the Trustees sent about 1,100 indentured servants to Georgia.

In 1748 the Spanish War ended, and by 1750 the Trustees let progress take it own course. People could pick their own land, and slavery was allowed.

Georgia had served it’s purpose, it’s had defended the Carolinas from the Spanish and had siphoned off some of the unemployed in England. The Spanish threat was over and so the Trustees left Georgia to take care of its self. This has been the true story of the colonial Georgia.

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