The Founding Of Georgia

Dated: August 21 2017

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    General James Edward Oglethrope officially founded Savannah in 1733. He was born in December 1696 in London and entered the military and was elected to British Parliament from 1722 to 1751. During his time in Parliament, he was a social reformer. 

By 1729, Oglethorpe served on a committee to “Consider a Bill for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors.” His friend, ROBERT CASTELL, was imprisoned for debts incurred when he published a book on architecture. This incident caused Oglethorpe to be interested in DEBTORS PRISONS where debtors were imprisoned until they paid their debts and were charged room and board. Failure to pay resulted in cruel treatment and often starvation. Castell was housed with prisoners suffering from smallpox and ultimately died from the disease in 1729. Oglethorpe led an investigation into the conditions of British jails and his committee’s report shocked Parliament, forcing it to consider reform. The trial of Castell’s jailor was newsworthy enough that prints were made and circulated. 

    As a social reformer, Oglethorpe had several other opportunities. This included being selected as a director of the Royal West Africa Company where he learned about the evils of the Atlantic slave trade. During this time, he attempted reforms including converting Africans to Anglicanism. 

    With his friend LORD PERCIVAL, Oglethorpe proposed a new colony to be settled by debtors and the poor. As a military man who had served European commanders in the field, he saw the advantage of positioning his colony between the Carolinas and the Spanish settlements in Florida. As a reformer, he understood the careful planning that would be needed to turn a group of unfortunates into a thriving colony and a citizen soldiery. 


1. To provide relief to debtors in England. 

2. To assist the English poor and the unemployed. 

3. To remove the poor so that England would not have to support them. 

4. To provide relief for persecuted Protestants like the Salzburgers. 

5. To act as a buffer to protect South Carolina from Spaniards in Florida. 

6. To strengthen the British Empire by the success of the colony and its population. 

7. To supply raw products such as wine, hemp, silk and flax to manufacturers in England and relieve England’s dependence on foreign trade.

8. To establish another market for English-made products to be exported to the colony. 

    On June 8, 1732, King George II signed the CHARTER FOR THE COLONY OF GEORGIA providing for its management and governing by a Board of Trustees which included Oglethorpe, George Heathcote, Thomas Coram, Thomas Archer, Rev. John Burton and the first president, John Percival, the Earl of Egmont. After twenty-one years of operating under the Charter, Georgia would become a Royal Colony.

 Georgia’s first colonists arrived with Oglethorpe on a ship called ANNE, which sailed from England on September 11, 1732 and arrived in Savannah on February 12, 1733. The first child 6born in the new colony was GEORGIA CLOSE, born March 17, 1733, to Henry and Hannah Close. 

    During the early colonial period, Savannah grew through the recruitment of the poor, debtors and the arrival of groups seeking refuge from RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION. The Salzburgers, Austrian Protestants, had first fled to England and found sponsorship for their journey to Savannah from Lutheran King George II and the English Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Many Sephardic Jews escaping the Spanish Inquisition also went first to England. After 10 years of difficult living, the Jewish Community of Bevis Marks enabled them to emigrate to America. 

    When Oglethorpe first founded Savannah on a high bluff overlooking the Savannah River, the YAMACRAW INDIANS already lived in the area. Their mico or chief, TOMOCHICHI, offered invaluable support to Oglethorpe and to the early colonists. Oglethorpe and the Yamacraw signed a TREATY OF FRIENDSHIP in May of 1733. This allowed the English to settle any land except Ossabaw, Sapelo and St. Catherine’s islands, which were to remain Indian lands forever. The treaty was also approved by Lower and Upper Creeks as well as Cherokee tribes. Tomochichi died in 1739 at the reported age of 97 and his burial mound was placed in Wright Square. Today, a boulder from Stone Mountain honors his memory.

    Shortly after settling on Yamacraw Bluff, General Oglethorpe established an experimental project called TRUSTEES GARDEN, setting the city’s earliest economy into motion. Modeled after the Chelsea Botanical Garden in London, the 10-acre experiment was bounded by the Savannah River to the north and Broughton Street to the south. Botanists were sent from England to grow mulberry trees for silk cultivation, grapes for wine and a variety of other crops. Most of the plants could not adjust to the harsh extremes of Georgia’s high and low temperatures, and the experiment was deemed a failure. However, from this garden came the original peach trees and cotton plants which eventually became major crops for the state of Georgia.

This excerpt is courtesy of Barbara C. Fertig's City of Savannah Tour Guide Manualo

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Jenny Rutherford

Meet Jenny Rutherford Jenny Rutherford Real Estate, LLC. Where did you grow up? I grew up on a farm at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. I've lived in several states, including Virgi....

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