Our Georgia History

Storekeeper Thomas Causton
June 7, 1738 Thomas Causton, magistrate of Savannah is replaced by Henry Parker. A review of of the records reveal gross mismanagement of funds
  City of Savannah, Georgia
  Storekeeper Thomas Causton

It was perhaps one of James Oglethorpe's biggest mistakes, and according to Oglethorpe himself, nearly spelled the end of the colony of Georgia. Thomas Causton, whom Oglethorpe had chosen to be one of the judges in Savannah was later chosen to be the "storekeeper." The Trust Store was the center of life in Savannah, and with the control of the store and a judgeship, Causton was in the position of forcing those who opposed him into submission. Without goods from the store, colonists might starve. Causton could use this to force his rulings to be obeyed, and became known as "Dictator" to the townspeople. In 1734-35 Causton was accused by the colonists of a wide range of criminal activity including selling rum (this was illegal in Georgia), using Trustee servants for personal gain, insulting defendants and jurors and meting out punishments that did not fit the crime.

Bacause of Causton and the other bailiffs, Georgia residents, in general, considered their courts unreliable. In response to Causton's actions, Georgia juries frequently nullified charges, making Oglethorpe restrict jury trials. Even Johann Martin Bolzius, who led the Salzbergers, was afraid of Causton's power and questioned Oglethorpe's decision putting Causton in charge when Oglethorpe was gone.

In the end, Causton's own greed got the best of him. In 1737 colonists charged that he made money from his duties as Trust Storekeeper, forced free men to work on public projects and intimidated juries. Then, the trustees found 14,000 Pounds of unauthorized transactions. The Trustees removed Causton from any position of responsibility. Not only had the storekeeper caused his own demise, this was another chink in Oglethorpe's armor.

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