Why Georgia Was Founded
After years of planning and two months crossing the Atlantic, James Oglethorpe and 114 colonists climbed 40 feet up the bluff from the Savannah River on this day in 1733 and founded the colony of Georgia.
George II granted the Georgia trustees a charter for the colony a year earlier. The trustees’ motto was Non Sibi Sed Aliis—not for self but for others. Georgia would be a philanthropic and military enterprise that would provide the “worthy” poor a new start and serve as a buffer between Spanish Florida and the English colonies. The trustees prohibited slavery and large landholdings; Georgians would work for themselves on small farms. In the end, there were no debtors among them. In November 1732 Oglethorpe and the colonists boarded the Anne in Gravesend and after stopping briefly in South Carolina, arrived safely in Georgia.
The 13th and last of the British colonies on mainland North America grew to become the largest of the United States east of the Mississippi after its founding on February 12, 1733, Today in Georgia History.
THE FOUNDING OF GEORGIA
It had been more than five decades since the British had established a new colony. James Edward Oglethorpe, a philanthropist and an English general, along with twenty-one other men, created a charter to settle a new colony which they named Georgia in honor of King George II. The grant established land between the Savannah and Altamaha rivers as well as the waters of these rivers.
Georgia Trustees, Oglethorpe and the twenty-one other men, established that no man was to make profit off the settlement. Once the charter was finalized the men brought it to the attention of King George II. In 1732, King George II, under the persuasion of Oglethorpe, signed off on the last of the 13 colonies.
At the time of the charter, British prisons were being over-crowded by people in debt. Oglethorpe spent much of his time in England working with the poor and insisted that the formation of a new colony would allow debt-ridden people a fresh start. His idea was to create an asylum for the poor and the persecuted Protestants. The establishment of Georgia would also protect the northern colonies from Spanish and French intrudors.
However, as the Trustees started searching for colonists, the plan changed from building a colony of prisoners to forming a colony of skilled individuals including; tailors, bakers, carpenters, merchants and farmers. As colonists were found, funds were also raised to pay for the long journey across the Atlantic.
In November of 1732, 114 people left from the River Thames to settle Britain new colony of Georgia. They arrived at Port Royal, South Carolina. While the colonists rested, Oglethorpe, Peter Gordon, William Bull, and several other South Carolina militia searched for a proper settling area. They came to Yamacraw Bluff, which was about seventeen miles from Savannah river mouth. The men chose this area for its natural protection from assault.
There they met John Musgrove, son of a South Carolina Governor, and his wife Mary, native Creek Indian. The two lived near Yamacraw Bluff and traded goods with the Creek Indians. With Musgrove help, Oglethorpe was able to obtain the land from the local Creek village leader Tomochichi. Upon securing the land, Oglethorpe returned to South Carolina to gather up the settlers.
James Oglethorpe and Creek Indians
Oglethorpe and his Militia with the Creek Indians.
On February 1, 1733, Oglethorpe and the colonists arrived at Yamacraw Bluff. Soon after, the settlers, along with South Carolina slaves, quickly got to work clearing the land and establishing Savannah. The forty families first task was to build a wall surrounding the settlement. Every task was done as a group and once one task was over, the colonists would move on to the next one. Oglethorpe and the Trustees desired to create a society where every head of household worked on his own land without slaves, creating a single class.
Oglethorpe spent his time in Georgia helping direct the economy and politics, all while defending it militarily. He also continued to encourage settlers to come in from all over Europe and England. By 1738, Oglethorpe was worried about Georgia and its residents. Georgia had been established as a colony with no slavery and little landholding. In fact, slavery was strictly prohibited and Oglethorpe had declared it immoral and conflicting with British law. Despite his best efforts, by this time, the residents began blaming the downfall and hardships of the colony on the lack of landownership, rum and slaves.
Oglethorpe ideals for Savannah as an asylum against persecution had changed, which led him to quit the colony in 1743. By the time it became a Royal colony in 1752, petitions began circling around the settlement for the original charter to be revoked. Georgia soon became known for its plantations and slavery. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the Constitution after the American Revolution in 1788.
The Uniqueness of Colonial Georgia
Contrary to popular belief, Georgia was NOT founded as a debtor's colony. This is a myth that has found its way into textbooks and is widely accepted. Nevertheless, Georgia was a pretty unique British colony. To begin with, it was the last of the thirteen original colonies. Its charter also prohibited slavery. Hard to believe, isn't it? Also unusual is the fact that alcohol was banned. Let's dig deeper and learn more about Colonial Georgia.
The Founding of Georgia
General James Olglethorpe can be thought of as the 'founding father' of Georgia. He was the driving force behind the founding of the colony. In 1732, King George II granted James Olglethorpe a charter to establish the colony. Not surprisingly, the new colony was named 'Georgia' in honor of King George II. Oglethorpe originally envisioned the colony as a haven for British debtors, though this plan never came to fruition. Georgia was never a debtor's colony. Oglethorpe set up headquarters in what is now Savannah, and was instrumental in laying the foundation for what would eventually become Georgia's capital city. At the time, Savannah was occupied by the Yamacraw Native American tribe, but Oglethorpe made provisions for them to vacate the area.
James Oglethorpe depicted in a 1730s painting
Georgia was an important colony because it acted as a 'buffer zone' against Spanish northward expansion. Remember, Florida during this time was Spanish territory, and the British were concerned that the Spanish might venture north and take over sections of their colonies. The colony of Georgia, therefore, marked a clear boundary between British and Spanish territory. This was a major reason why King George II supported the founding of the colony.
Key Developments in Colonial Georgia
British fears of Spanish expansion were confirmed in 1742 when Spanish forces invaded the colony during the War of Jenkin's Ear. At the Battle of Bloody Marsh, the British defeated the Spanish, ensuring that Georgia would remain a British colony.
James Oglethorpe disagreed with slavery, and for this reason, he prohibited the practice in the original character. He also banned alcohol. Because of these restrictions, Georgia initially was slow to grow. Why would settlers want to come to Georgia where alcohol was prohibited, if they could go to another colony like the Carolinas or Virginia and be free to partake? The prohibition of slavery was also unappealing for settlers seeking to establish plantations. Due to discontentment over these policies, Oglethorpe lifted these bans. As of 1749 slavery was permitted in the colony. Within a short period time of it became a major part of the Georgia economy and culture, much like the rest of the Southern colonies.
In addition to crops like cotton and tobacco, rice and indigo became major cash crops in Colonial Georgia. African slaves were brought in by the thousands to labor on large plantations. During the 1750s, many wealthy farmers from the Carolinas migrated to Georgia, bringing with them their upper-class culture and ways of life. Their influence greatly aided the economic growth of the colony.
"Georgia has successfully weathered a number of shocks, including the conflict with Russia, the global financial crisis, political transition, and regional instability. A positive medium-term outlook is emerging in light of the peaceful democratic transition, the planned signing EU Association Agreement, lower and stable sovereign yield spreads and declining banking sector dollarization.
"Georgia’s banking system has shown its resiliency in recent years, but also faces a number of risks and vulnerabilities that will need to be continuously closely monitored and managed. These include long-standing vulnerabilities that relate to dollarization, liquidity, and loan concentration, which could impair the system’s ability to cope with shocks, although they are currently largely mitigated.
"Considerable steps have been taken to strengthen banking regulation and supervision with regards to meeting international standards. The NBG has introduced an advanced risk-based supervisory regime, while maintaining a conservative approach, aimed at detecting risks at an early stage and allocating supervisory resources in the most efficient and effective manner. Despite this notable progress across the supervisory spectrum, further strengthening of the regulatory framework is warranted.
"Financial sector intermediation in Georgia will need to play a central role in promoting investment, employment and economic growth. While the banking sector plays an important role in providing finance to the private sector, a more comprehensive financial sector strategy and timely actions are needed to chart the development of a more balanced financial system structure, which is more supportive of investment and longer-term savings. The non-bank financial sector lacks the scale and financial capacity that are essential for their role to bridging the gap in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) financing and there are many unregulated financial service providers.