Georgia History 101
The colony of Georgia was truly the vision of James
Edward Oglethorpe. His plan to use the new colony as a haven
for people in debtors prison grew out of his committee work while
a member of Parliament. Although Oglethorpe did not conceive the
idea, he did seize it and attempted to act upon it. However, by
the time he received the charter for Georgia (June 9, 1732) Oglethorpe
had dropped his plan to use debtors and hand-selected the 116
men and women who would travel to South Carolina on The Ann.
On February 12, 1733 (February 1, old style) a group
of six small ships landed at Yamacraw Bluffs and set up on a site
Oglethorpe had chosen earlier. It would become Savannah.
Defense was an early concern of the new colony. Oglethorpe established
a perimeter around the colony including Fort Augusta, Fort Fredrica
and Fort St. Simon (List of
Georgia forts) and had slavery and liquor banned from the colony.
Over the first six years the struggles of the new
colony came from inside. Many did not like the lack of land ownership;
others were angry over the lack of slaves; some just wanted rum
and beer. Slavery was an extremely divisive issue, with the people
of Savannah wanting Negroes while the Highlanders along the coast
and the Saltzburgers at Ebenezer wanting to be slave-free.
Georgia had always been a "melting pot," welcoming
the persecuted and prosecuted of Europe including large groups of
Puritans, Lutherans, and Quakers (Wrightsboro). The only group not
welcome in Georgia were Catholics, which is not surprising considering
the religious wars that were fought a century earlier in England.
The diversity of religion brought Georgia an unexpected strength
- an willingness to accept others regardless of religion.
The first test of the new colony came in 1739 during
the War of Jenkins Ear. Southern Georgia and Florida were battlegrounds
over the next four years, most notably the siege of St. Augustine
(1740) and the Battle of Bloody Marsh (1742). When peace finally
settled on the colony Oglethorpe was gone, never to return, and
William Stevens was president.
|This 1745 map of Georgia shows the state extending
west to the Mississippi. Only a strip of land from Savannah
to Augusta about 20 miles wide, along with some small coastal
communities had been settled by Europeans.
The War of Jenkins Ear was a minor war that fueled
a much larger conflict known as the War of Austrian Succession (1742-1748).
Because of the cost involved in fighting the war the English Parliament
had little money to support the colonies it helped fund over the
past 80 years. Georgia came under increasing pressure in the late
1740's to become self-sufficient.
Georgia was not prosperous under the trustee system.
In 1749, 16 years into the trustee system, the colony exported goods
for the first time. James Habersham petitioned for slavery to be
allowed and the request was granted the following year.
In 1752 the trustees returned the colony to the
king, unwilling to continue for the entire 21 years stated in the
charter. In 1754 John Reynolds arrives as first "royal governor,"
appointed by King George II and in charge of the colony whose major
products are naval stores, indigo and lumber. Rice was a popular
crop along coast; further inland they grew wheat and other products
whose hulls needed to be "cracked" before use, hence "Cracker,"
a derogatory name for poor upcountry farmers.
Reynolds did not like Savannah and tried to move
the capitol south to Hardwicke, near Genesis Point on the Ogeechee
River. This was one of many unpopular moves that led to his ouster
at the request of the colonists. He was followed by Lieutenant Governor
Henry Ellis, who disdained the state because of its heat. Although
the state was spared major battles during the French and Indian
War (1754-1763) it did reap a major benefit from the conflict: its
borders increased dramatically.
It was during the war that James Wright (Ellis'
Lieutenant Governor ) became Georgia's third and most well-liked
of its royal governors. Appointed by King George III, Wright proves
to be capable as governor of Georgia. He expanded the state's economy
during his term and kept the Radicals at bay well into the 1770's.
The American Revolution
Our Georgia History: History 101 index
Georgia's Indian Heritage
The Age of Exploration in Georgia
The America Revolution in Georgia
Georgia and the Civil War
Georgia's Gilded Age
A State Divided
Depression and War
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