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GEORGIA was the last settled of the thirteen original states. Its territory was originally included within the limits of the Carolina charter, but no set
tlement was made until after that charter was forfeited. The settlement of a colony was designed in England about the
year 1732, for the accommodation of poor people in Great Britain and Ireland, for the further security of Carolina, and also as a place of refuge for the persecuted Protestants of all nations. It was also a part of the plan to attempt the conversion and civilization of the native Indians.
In the settlement of the colony, private compassion and public spirit were combined. Humane and opulent persons suggested a plan of transporting a number of indigent families to this
part of America free of expense. For Motto: Wisdom, Justice and Moderation. this purpose they applied to the king,
George II, and obtained from him letters patent dated June 9, 1732, for legally carrying into execution what they had generously projected. They called the new province Georgia, in honor of the king who had encouraged the plan.
A corporation consisting of twenty-one persons was constituted, by the name of trustees, for settling and establishing the colony of Georgia, which was separated from Carolina by the river Savannah. The trustees having first set the example themselves, by largely contributing to the scheme, undertook also to solicit benefactions from others, and to apply the money toward clothing, arming and purchasing utensils for cultivation, and to the transportation of such poor people as should be willing to go over and begin a settlement. Their views were not confined to British subjects, but a door
ARMS OF GEORGIA.
was opened for the indigent and oppressed protestants of other nations. To prevent a misapplication of the money it was deposited in the Bank of England.
In July, 1732, the trustees for Georgia held their first meeting, chose Lord Percival president of the corporation, and ordered a common seal to be made. In November following about 130 settlers, with James Oglethorpe, one of the trustees, as their head and director, set sail from Gravesend in the ship Anne, of 200 tuns, for America. They arrived off the bar of Charleston Jan. 13, 1733. Mr. Oglethorpe went on shore to wait on Governor Johnson, and was received with great marks of civility and satisfaction. The king's pilot was ordered to his assistance to carry the ship into Port Royal, and from thence small craft was furnished to carry the settlers to their intended place of settlement on the Savannah River.
The general assembly of Carolina met three days after the departure of Oglethorpe, and on motion of the governor they resolved that he should be furnished, at the public expense, with 104 breeding cattle, 25 hogs, and 20 barrels of good rice; that boats also should be provided to transport the people, provisions and goods, and that scout-boats and a guard of fifteen rangers should be put under the command of Mr. Oglethorpe for his protection and that of the settlers. The governor also prevailed upon Colonel Bull, a member of the council, and a gentleman of great probity and experience, to attend Mr. Oglethorpe to Georgia.
Oglethorpe having arrived at Yamacraw, on the Savannah River, on Feb. 1, 1733, he explored the country and fixed on a high spot of ground (the present site of Savannah) near that Indian town for commencing a settlement. Having put the colony in a state of safety by the erection of a fort, etc., the next object of Oglethorpe's attention was to treat with the Indians for a share of their lands. The territory was principally occupied by the Upper and Lower Creeks, who were computed to amount to about twenty-five thousand, men, women and children, and these tribes laid claim to the lands lying south-west of Savannah River. It appeared, therefore, of the highest consequence to procure their friendship. By the assistance of an Indian woman who had married a trader from Carolina, who could speak both the English and Creek languages, Oglethorpe summoned a general meeting of the chiefs at Savannah to confer with him in order to procure their consent to the peaceable settlement of his colony.
The meeting, or congress, was accordingly held, at which fifty chieftains were present. Oglethorpe represented to them the great power, wisdom and wealth of the English, and the advantage it would be to form a connection with that nation, and expressed his hope that, as they had plenty of lands, they would freely resign a share of them to his people, who, for their benefit and instruction, had come to reside among them. After he had distributed presents among the Indians an agreement was made. Tomochichi, in the name of the Creek warriors, now made a speech. Among other observations he said: "Here is a little present,” and then gave him a buffalo's skin, painted on the inside with the head and feathers of an eagle, and desired him to accept it, “because the eagle signifies speed, and the buffalo strength. The English,” he proceeded, “are as swift as the bird and strong as the beast since, like the first, they fly from the utmost parts of the earth over the vast seas, and, like the second, nothing can withstand them. The feathers of the eagle are soft, and signify love; the buffalo's skin is warm, and signifies protection; he hoped, therefore, that they would love and protect their little families.”
A colony now being planted in Georgia, the trustees proceeded to establish certain regulations. One of these regulations was that the lands should not be sold by the owners, but should descend to their male children only. On the termination of the male line, the wives of such persons as should survive them were to be, during their lives, entitled to the mansion-house and onehalf of the lands improved by their husbands. No man was permitted to depart from the colony without a license. If any of the lands granted by the trustees should not be cultivated, cleared and fenced about with a worm fence, or poles six feet high, within eighteen years, the grant respecting it to become void. The use of negroes was to be absolutely prohibited, and also the importation of rum. Some of these regulations proved quite detrimental to the colonists. Some of the settlers finding that they would procure more extensive tracts of lands in other colonies, and on better terms, were induced to
Beside the large sums of money the trustees had expended for the settlement of Georgia, parliament had also granted, during the last two years, thirty-six thousand pounds toward carrying into execution the humane purpose of the corporation. After the representations and memorials from the legislature of Carolina had reached Great Britain, the nation considered Georgia to be of the utmost importance to the British settlements in America, and began to make still more vigorous efforts for its speedy population.
The first embarkations of poor people from England, being collected from towns and cities, were found equally idle and useless members of society abroad as they had been at home. A hardy and bold race of men, inured to rural labor and fatigue, they were persuaded, would be much better adapted both for cultivation and defense. To find men possessed of these qualifications they turned their eyes to Germany and the Highlands of Scotland, and resolved to send over a number of Scotch and German laborers to their infant province. When they published their terms at Inverness, one hundred and thirty Highlanders immediately accepted them and were transported to Georgia.
The river Alatamaha was at this time considered as the boundary between the British and Spanish territories. A township on this river was allotted to the Highlanders, who built a town in this exposed situation, which they called New Inverness, now Darien. About the same time one hundred and seventy Germans embarked with Oglethorpe, and were fixed in another quarter, so that in the space of three years Georgia received above four hundred British subjects. Afterward several adventurers both from Scotland and Germany followed their countrymen into the province.
In 1736, John Wesley, the eminent founder of Methodism, made a visit to Georgia for the purpose of preaching to the colonists and converting the Indians. “He was then young and ardent; the people around him felt less ardor than himself, and his pious zeal soon brought him into collision with some of the principal settlers. He was accused of diverting the people from their labor to attend his religious meetings, and of exercising unwarranted ecclesiastical authority. Persecuted by his enemies, and finding he could render no further service to the cause of religion in the colony, he returned to England, and there for many years pursued a distinguished career of piety and usefulness."
In 1739, George Whitefield, the celebrated preacher, commenced his Orphan House, at a place he called Bethesda, about nine miles from Savannah. For the support of this institution he crossed the Atlantic several times, and
traversed Great Britain and America soliciting aid from the pious and charitable. Wherever he went he preached with such surpassing eloquence that great crowds attended his ministrations. Notwithstanding his exertions his orphan house during his lifetime did not flourish to any extent, and after his death was abandoned.
The trustees of the colony, in 1740, rendered an account of their adminis. tration. To that period, about 2,500 emigrants had arrived in the colony. The benefactions from individuals and the government, had amounted to nearly half a million of dollars; and it was computed that for every person transported and maintained by the trustees, more than 300 dollars had been expended. The hopes of the trustees, that their colony would become flourishing, were disappointed. Their injudicious regulations and restrictions, caused many complaints and insurrections. Notwithstanding all the expense bestowed upon the colony, it continued to languish, until 1752, when their charter was surrendered to the king.
In 1739, war being declared by Great Britain against Spain, Oglethorpe went into the Indian country, 500 miles distant from Frederica, to obtain the friendship and assistance of the natives. At Coweta he conferred with the Chickasaws and other deputies. They declared, that by ancient right, that all the territories, lands, and islands, from the Savannah River to St. John's River, in Florida, belonged to the Creek nation, and they agreed that they would not suffer the Spaniards, or any persons, excepting the trustees of the Georgia colony, to settle on those lands.
Oglethorpe being promoted to the rank of general in the British army, collected a force of about 2,000 men, partly from Virginia and the Carolinas, for an expedition against Florida. Being assisted by a considerable party of Indians, he took two Spanish forts, and besieged St. Augustine. The Spaniards having received, by some means, a reinforcement of 700 men, and a supply of provisions, made such an obstinate resistance, that Gen. Oglethorpe was compelled to abandon the enterprise and return to Frederica.
In 1742, war continuing with the Spaniards, Gen. Oglethorpe fixed his head-quarters at Frederica, and waited in expectation of a reinforcement from Carolina.
“About the last of June, the Spanish fleet, amounting to 32 sail, and carrying above 3,000 men, under the command of Don Manuel de Monteano, came to anchor off St. Simon's bar; and, after sounding the channel, passed through Jekyl Sound, received a fire from Oglethorpe at Fort Simons, and proceeded up the Alatamaha, beyond the reach of his guns. Here the enemy landed, and erected a battery with 20 18 pounders mounted on it. Oglethorpe, judging his situation at Fort Simons to be dangerous, spiked up the guns; burst the bombs and cohorns; destroyed the stores; and retreated to Frederica. With a force amounting to little more than 700 men, exclusive of Indians, he could not hope to act but on the defensive, until the arrival of reinforcements from Carolina. He, howerer, employed his Indians, and occasionally his Highlanders, in scouring the woods, harassing the outposts of the enemy, and throwing every impediment in their marches. In the attempts of the Spaniards to penetrate through the woods and morasses to reach Frederica, several rencounters took place; in one of which they lost a captain and two lieutenants killed, and above 100 men taken prisoners. Oglethorpe at length, learning, by an English prisoner who escaped from the Spanish camp, that a difference subsisted between the troops from Cuba and those from St. Augustine, occasioning a separate encampment, resolved to attack the enemy while thus divided. Taking advantage of his knowledge of the woods, he marched. out in the night with 300 chosen men, the Highland company and some rangers, with the intention of surprising the enemy. Having advanced within two miles of the Spanish camp, he halted his troops, and went forward himself with a select
corps, to reconnoiter the enemy's situation. While he was endeavoring cautiously to conceal his approach, a French soldier of his party discharged his musket, and ran into the Spanish lines.
The general now returned to Frederica, and endeavored to effect, by stratagem, what could not be achieved by surprise. Apprehensive that the deserter would discover to the enemy his weakness, he wrote to him a letter, desiring him to acquaint the Spaniards with the defenseless state of Frederica, and the ease with which his small garrison might be cut to pieces. He pressed him to bring forward the Spaniards to an attack; but, if he could not prevail thus far, to use all his art and influence to persuade them to stay at least three days more at Fort Simons; for within that time, according to advices just received from Carolina, he should have a reinforcement of 2,000 land forces, with six British ships-of-war. The let. ter concluded with a caution to the deserter against dropping the least hint of Admiral Vernon's meditated attack upon St. Augustine, and with assurance, that for his service he should be amply rewarded by the British king. Oglethorpe gave it to the Spanish prisoner, who, for a small reward together with his liberty, promised to deliver it to the French deserter. On his arrival, however, at the Spanish camp, he gave the letter, as Oglethorpe expected, to the commander-inchief, who instantly put the deserter in irons. This letter perplexed and confounded the Spaniards; some suspecting it to be a stratagem to prevent an attack on Frederica, and others believing it to contain serious instructions to direct the conduct of a spy. While the Spanish officers were deliberating what measures to adopt, an incident, not within the calculation of military skill, or the control of human power, decided their counsels. Three ships of force, which the governor of South Carolina had sent out to Oglethorpe's aid, appeared at this juncture off the coast. The agreement of this discovery with the contents of the letter, convinced the Spanish commander of its real intention. The whole
siezed with an instant panic, set fire to the fort, and precipitately embarked, leaving several cannon, with a quantity of provisions and military stores; and thus, in the moment of threatened conquest, was the infant colony providentially saved.”
From the time Georgia became a royal government, in 1752, until the peace of Paris, in 1763, she struggled with many difficulties arising from the want of credit, and the frequent molestations of enemies. After the peace, the colony began to flourish under the fatherly care of Gov. Wright. In the year 1763, the exports of Georgia consisted only of 7,500 barrels of rice, 9,633 pounds of indigo, 1,250 bushels of Indian corn, which, together with deer and beaver skins, naval stores, provisions, timber, etc., amounted to do m than £27,021 sterling. Ten years afterward, in 1773, it exported commodities to the value of £121,677 sterling.
During the revolutionary war, Georgia was overrun by the British troops, and many of the inhabitants were obliged to flee into the neighboring states for safety. The sufferings and losses of her citizens were as great, in proportion to her numbers, as in the sister states. In Dec. 1778, Savannah was taken by the British, and in October following, Count Pulaski, a Polish officer in the American service, was mortally wounded in an unsuccessful assault on this place. The first state constitution was formed in 1777, the second in 1785, and the present in 1798, and amended in 1839.
During the early history of Georgia, as a state, its growth was impeded by the hostile irruptions of the Creek Indians. The final settlement of all difficulties with this tribe, was accomplished at Wetumpka, in 1828, by a treaty, when all their lands, in the state of Georgia, were ceded to the United States. The last difficulty with the Indians was that with the Cherokees, who occupied the entire north-western part of Georgia, still known as Cherokee Georgia. This tribe was considerably advanced in civilization, and had their own printed constitution, and a code of laws by which they had declared themselves an independent state. These acts of sovereignty, by the Indians,