The Colony of Georgia(Est. 1732)

James Edward Oglethorpe
King George II of England

The Colony of Georgia, also known as the Province of Georgia, was the last of the original thirteen colonies to be established by Great Britain, nearly 50 years later than the last of the existing twelve, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1733 by General James Oglethorpe and a group of trustees who had received a 21 year long charter granting it's creation from King George II, for whom the colony was named. Oglethorpe, a prison reformer and member of Parliament, was granted the charter to create the colony for three main reasons: to provide refuge for those previously in debtor's prison, to provide refuge for persecuted Protestants, and to ensure that the Spanish, who were expanding from Florida, would be unsuccessful. The last two reasons would prove to be successful later on in the colony's history, however the first would never come to be. ( (

Oglethorpe, chosen governor of the colony, along with 35 families, reached the mouth of the Savannah River during the spring of 1733. The land was controlled by Native Americans, mainly the Creek and Cherokee tribes, but it was arranged for them to move. Along with the help of an elderly Indian chief named Tomochichi, he founded a city and named it after the river. A year after this, Protestant refugees sailed into the mouth of the river and founded the town of Ebenezer. Soon after, Oglethorpe sailed for England and returned with even more immigrants. Among them were John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, and his brother Charles. George Whitfield, a well-known preacher, came to Georgia and founded an orphan school in Savannah. ( (

Being so close to the Spanish-controlled Florida at this time was not reassuring, but it was something that Oglethorpe prepared for, as defense was one of the first concerns of the colony. He built several forts, Fort Augusta, Fort Fredrica and Fort St. Simon. During King George's War, in 1739, Oglethorpe led an expedition against St. Augustine. The expedition failed in the sense that the city was not captured, but it was successful in pushing back a Spanish retaliation. Following this, for the next several years Georgia became a battleground during King George's War, coming under increasing pressure to become self-sufficient because the English government was struggling to support them. (

Fort Frederica today
Fort Frederica today

During the first 20 years, running of the colony was drastically different from that of the other twelve colonies. It was the only colony that received financial aid from England. The colony prohibited such things as slavery and alcohol. It was also rumored, though not proven, that lawyers were not welcome in the colony. The colonists had no control of their government, instead it was ruled entirely by a board of trustees.
However, the colonists were not happy with their lack of control and harsh restrictions. After his 12th year as governor, Oglethorpe left Georgia for good and returned to England with a list of demands from the people in Georgia - they wanted slaves, alcohol, the right to land reform, and self-government. (

These demands were met, as it was believed that alcohol would help trade and those against slavery, primarily the religious immigrants, made up the minority. In 1749, Georgia became a slave colony and in 1752, after the trustees gave up before the charter expired, it became a royal colony. Men, unless they were Roman Catholic, were given the right to vote and a governor was appointed by the king. Following this Georgia began to grow more and more like the other twelve colonies, although it was still the least populated by the time of the American Revolution. By then, Georgia was populated by nearly 50,000 people, half of whom were slaves. (

In 1754, King George II sent over the first of the royal governors, John Reynolds. The colony's major industries became naval stores, indigo, and lumber along with rice, wheat, and other agricultural products. Reynolds, however, attempted to move the capitol from Savannah to Hardwicke and was therefore replaced at the request of the colonists. The second of the royal governors, Henry Ellis, was not a fan of the heat and was also replaced. The third royal governor, James Wright, would prove to be the best and most-liked of them all, leading the colony out of the French and Indian war, a war that the colony was not heavily involved in, although their boundaries did increase dramatically because of it. (

"Oglethorpe and the Indians" from the Frieze of American History, Rotunda Capitol Building

As far as Goergia's relationship with the Native Americans, their interaction started immediately upon Oglethorpe's arrival. It was certainly not the first time that Native Americans had ever encountered foreign settlers, however it was the first time they were treated with such respect as Oglethorpe did. A friendship developed between Oglethorpe and the Yamacraw chief Tomochichi when the latter helped him with the settling of Savannah. Although Oglethorpe did not view the Native Americans as equals, he also did not see them as a threat or savages. He treated them with respect and the Natives did the same. Upon first meeting. Tomochichi presented Oglethorpe with a painted buffalo skin, signifying the protection they hoped to receive and the power they knew the English possessed. Oglethorpe, who had other threats to worry about such as Spain, chose not to turn against the Indians and instead set up an alliance of sorts. A treaty of friendship was set up with the Lower Creeks which also set up a trade agreement. Although it can be argued that Oglethorpe did what he did purely for political reasons, there is also evidence that his friendship with Tomochichi was a true one, as the chief and some of his family was taken to England in 1734 where they were presented to the king. Upon Tomochichi's death in 1739, Oglethorpe had him buried in Savannah with full honors. After such a harsh history between the English and the Native Americans, it was refreshing to the Lower Creek to come across a group of white men that did not mean to exploit or harm them. (

A map of the colony of Georgia, as of 1795.

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