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Georgia in the 18th century


Mansion in Georgia
Mansion in Georgia

As England’s power grew, the countries of Scotland and Wales were united under the English king in a nation called Great Britain, which continued the policy of granting proprietary colonies in America. In 1732 Great Britain’s king, George II, granted to James E. Oglethorpe, John Perceval, and others a charter for a colony to be called Georgia. Georgia was to include all the land between the Savannah and Altamaha rivers, extending west to the Pacific Ocean. Oglethorpe and his associates, who were called the “trustees” of Georgia, planned to found a refuge for the poor, especially those in debtors’ prisons, and the victims of religious persecution in Europe. In addition, the king wanted a buffer colony to protect the Carolinas from the Spanish in Florida and the French in Louisiana. It was also hoped that the colony would produce silk, wine, and other goods for the British market.

Early in 1733, Oglethorpe sailed up the Savannah River and landed at Yamacraw Bluff, 27 km (17 mi) upstream. There he met the Yamacraw people, a friendly Native American band of outlaw Creek, who ceded the site to him. On February 12, 1733, he returned with more than 100 colonists and laid out the town of Savannah, the first permanent European settlement in Georgia. In 1736 Oglethorpe founded Augusta at the Fall Line, the southern end of the Piedmont Plateau, 320 km (200 mi) up the Savannah River. Next Oglethorpe journeyed to the southern border, where he built Fort Frederica on Saint Simons Island to defend against the Spanish in Florida. In 1739 the War of Jenkins’s Ear broke out between Great Britain and Spain, and there was skirmishing on the southern frontier. In 1742 a Spanish force invaded Georgia. In the subsequent Battle of Bloody Marsh, near Fort Frederica, Oglethorpe and his troops defeated the invaders. This ended Spanish attempts to capture Georgia.

Over the next two decades the colonists were joined by German Lutherans and members of other persecuted religious groups from central Europe, as well as by Scots, Welsh, northern Italians, and Swiss. Oglethorpe hoped to create a model society, where none would be rich or poor. Those sent to Georgia at the trustees’ expense received 20.2 hectares (50 acres) of land and supplies to get them started.

Individuals paying their own way received up to 202 hectares (500 acres). But no family was allowed to sell, lease, or even will the land away. They were expected to support themselves off the land through their own labor. To ensure that everyone was a sober, hard worker, the trustees in 1735 prohibited strong drink and outlawed slavery. Georgia was the only British colony in North America to have such laws. Although many of Georgia’s first settlers were poor or otherwise unfortunate, few of them came from debtors’ prisons. "Georgia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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