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The Southern States of America
The History of Georgia - Chapter I - The Colony of Georgia, 1732 - 1776


Georgia a Part of Carolina.

THE land which, in 1732, was granted to the "Trustees for establishing the Colony of Georgia in America" was originally granted to the Lords Proprietors of Carolina; but as no act of settlement beyond the right shore of the Savannah River was exercised by the proprietors, Sir Robert Montgomery obtained from them, in 1717, the right to the use of the territory between the Savannah and the Altamaha rivers for a settlement to be called the Margravate of Azilia. It was expected that the Montgomery colony would at once take steps to improve the land so secured, and that the prosperity of the new undertaking would be assured. Such was the prediction of those who were directly interested in the project, but their efforts were not properly guided, and it remained for a man of greater ability and of more decided energy to carry to a successful issue the scheme proposed by Sir Robert Montgomery. James Oglethorpe was the man who was to be the leader in this great work, and the circumstances which led to his taking charge of it may be said to be providential.

Georgia a Distinct Proprietary-Oglethorpe's Settlement.

The story of the investigation by a committee of Parliament, headed by General Oglethorpe, of the methods pursued in the matter of the imprisonment of unfortunate Englishmen, has been so often told that it need not be here fully rehearsed. The result of the investigation brought about the needed reform in the prison system, but the most far-reaching and fruitful result was the founding of the Colony of Georgia. Oglethorpe, who had been the chief instrument in bringing about the great change, was chosen as the leader of the band to prepare the way for departure to the new country which they were to develop and change into a great state among a sisterhood of states forming the grand Union which is one of the world's powers. For an accurate and true account of the reasons for establishing the colony, succinctly stated, no better can be found than that given by Gov. Robert Johnson, of South Carolina, in the preamble to a proclamation issued by him Jan. 13, 1733, calling on his people to assist their new neighbors in Georgia. In it occurs this statement : "I have lately received a power from the Trustees for establishing a colony in that part of Carolina between the rivers Altamaha and Savannah, now granted by his Majesty's charter to the said Trustees, by the name of the Province of Georgia, authorizing me to take and receive all such voluntary contributions as any of his Majesty's good subjects of this province shall voluntarily contribute towards so good and charitable a work as the relieving of poor and insolvent debtors, and settIing, establishing and assisting poor Protestants of what nation so ever as shall be willing to settle in the said Colony." It maybe well for our readers to have before them also the words of the charter granted by George IL, giving the reasons as follows: "Many of our poor subjects are, through misfortune and want of employment, reduced to great necessity, insomuch as by their labor they are not able to provide a maintenance for themselves and their families; and, if they had means to defray their charges of passage and the expenses incident to new settlements, they would be glad to settle in any of our provinces in America, where, by cultivating the lands at present waste and desolate, they might not only gain a comfortable subsistence for themselves and families, but also strengthen our colonies and increase trade, navigation and wealth of these, our realms."

James Oglethorpe, the philanthropist and Christian gentleman, was also by choice a soldier, leaving college to take up arms in defense of a cause which he considered right. His character was right in every respect, and in undertaking the establishment of a colony under such circumstances he was literally carrying out the noble sentiment expressed in the motto adopted for the seal of the Province: Non sibi, sed alliis. Whether he foresaw the success of his scheme, or not, cannot be determined, but certainly true was the statement made by a newspaper not long before his death: "General Oglethorpe can say more than can be said by the subject of any prince in Europe, or perhaps that ever reigned; he founded the Province of Georgia in America, he has lived to see it flourish and become of consequence to the commerce of Great Britain ; he has seen it in a state of rebellion, and he now beholds it independent of the mother country, and of great political importance in one quarter of the globe."

The first company of the colonists, comprising 130 individuals, or thirty-five families, came over in the latter part of the year 1732, in the ship Anne, which set sail on November 17. Oglethorpe was one of the party. They reached Charleston, S. C., Jan. 13, 1733, and were there cordially welcomed by Governor Johnson, who assisted them in getting to the place where the first settlement was to be made - Savannah. Leaving the others at Beaufort, on the way, the General, guided by some of his Carolina friends, proceeded on his way in order to select a spot for the permanent location of his followers. He found what he sought, and a better selection than the site of the present prosperous and flourishing city of Savannah could not have been made. Indeed, no one would now wish for a change. On the spot he found a village inhabited by Indians, of whom Tomochichi was the chief, and who soon discerned the true character of Oglethorpe. The two men at once became friends and the Indians and Englishmen remained friendly as long as the General lived in Georgia. A treaty was afterwards made which was strictly observed, and the Colony of Georgia had scarcely any troubles with the aborigines. The plan of the city of Savannah has been greatly admired, and it would seem that it had been carefully prepared before the colonists ever set foot upon the soil. Oglethorpe, having chosen the spot, went back for his followers, reaching Yamacraw Bluff Feb. 1 (old style), 1733 (Feb. 12, new style), and, after landing, they united in a prayer of thanksgiving and praise to God, lodging that night in tents. The work of building houses for the people began the next day, and the settlement was called Savannah. In the work of making homes for themselves the colonists were greatly assisted by their neighbors of Carolina, who even then exhibited that social spirit for which they have ever since been noted.

Other Settlements.

Before the end of the first year of the colony's history the population was increased by the arrival of a vessel with forty Israelites who, while not under the care of the Trustees or coming with their consent, proved to be thrifty and industrious people and were allowed to remain. Following these came a band of religious exiles, called Salzburgers, who were warmly welcomed and who made their settlement at a place they named Ebenezer, up the Savannah River, about twenty-five miles from Oglethorpe's town.

In a little more than a year the following places, in addition to Savannah, were settled: Highgate, Hampstead, Abercorn and Fort Argyle. In the meantime other ships, with emigrants, arrived at Savannah, one of them, commanded by Captain Yoakley, bringing supplies of tools, clothing and provisions, winning the prize of a gold cup offered by the Trustees to the first vessel to enter the river and unload a cargo at the public dock. She was followed by one bringing the large addition of 150 souls to the population of the colony.

At the time the charter was obtained it was thought that the production of silk would be the chief industry of the people, and it was stipulated that each settler should plant a certain number of mulberry trees. Indeed, so important was this matter considered that the seal of the colony was of a design planned in conformity with that purpose. It represented on one side a group of silk-worms at work surrounded by the motto Non sibi, sed alliis. This industry, however, was not a success, and the principal exports were skins, rice, tar and pitch.

Having led the colonists to their new home, set them to work and put them in the way of supporting themselves, Oglethorpe, after spending fifteen months with them, returned to England, taking with him that faithful friend Tomochichi, his wife and his nephew and a number of chiefs, who were presented to the King and were pleasantly entertained by those who appreciated their kindness to the colonists. These Indians remained in England four months, but Oglethorpe did not return to Georgia until 1735. A colony of Swiss and Moravian emigrants, sent out by him in January, 1735, settled near Fort Argyle, and a party of Scotch Highlanders who desired to come over left their native land in January, 1736, and founded the town of New Inverness on the Altamaha River.

When Oglethorpe made his second visit to Georgia, in 1736, lie brought two ships loaded with supplies needed by the people, and he was accompanied by 225 emigrants who formed an important addition to the population. Among them were 125 Germans and twenty-five Moravians. The latter joined the settlement on the Ogeechee River called Fort Argyle. He also brought with him the noted brothers John and Charles Wesley, who did not remain a great while in this country, but their experiences while here were both interesting and exciting.

In February, 1736, a settlement was made near the mouth of the Altamaha River, on the island called St. Simon's, and the name Frederica was given to it. This place was really the home of Oglethorpe from that time until his final return to England. Before this, in 1735, in accordance with his directions, a military post was fixed at a point high up on the Savannah River and called Augusta. This was the starting-point of the prosperous city of Augusta.

Trouble with Spaniards.

During all this time the Spaniards, who claimed the land granted by Parliament to the Trustees of Georgia, were apparently inactive and seemed to be satisfied with the condition of affairs, but with the growth of the colony they became troublesome and seemed determined to put a stop to her progress. The Spanish government warned England that the building of fortifications and the quartering of troops in Georgia would not be submitted to by them. When the message was received the Duke of Argyle, a member of the King's Council, asserted: "This should be answered, but not in the usual way; the reply should be a fleet of battleships on the coast of Spain." So much trouble was stirred up by the Spaniards that war was declared by England in October, 1739.

At all times Oglethorpe kept in mind the importance of securing and retaining the goodwill and friendship of the Indians. The wisdom of this policy was manifested in the long period of hostility between the colonists and the Spaniards in Florida. With this purpose in view, the General decided to attend an impressive and large gathering of warriors at Coweta Town, leaving Savannah in July, 1739, and traveling 300 miles. At that meeting the Indians became firmly convinced of his sincerity, and learned to appreciate his friendly intentions, and willingly entered into treaties of peace and goodwill with him.

Hostilities between the Georgians and Spaniards began with the landing of a party of the latter on Amelia Island on Georgia soil and the killing of two unarmed men. With a considerable force Oglethorpe pursued the enemy until they sought refuge in the city of St. Augustine. He then collected a force of friendly Indians to co-operate with his troops, and captured two forts on the St. John's River, cutting off the Spaniards from their Indian allies. He then planned an attack on St. Augustine, and, with that end in view, left Frederica in May, 1740, with a force of 900 of his own men and 1,100 Indians. His first capture was Fort St. Diego, nine miles from the point of siege, and next he caused the Spaniards to abandon Fort Moosa, only two miles from St. Augustine. The attack was made both by land and sea, but it was found that the ships could not get near enough to the town to assist the land forces. The siege lasted until July, and several incidents of a disadvantageous character occurred, and the disappointed Oglethorpe abandoned the attack and returned to Frederica. His loss was only fifty men, while that of the enemy was 450, besides four forts.

The next move in the war was made by the Spaniards, who were slow to act. They collected at St. Augustine a fleet of fifty-six vessels with 7,000 troops from Havana, and when Oglethorpe received information of their preparation to attack him he gathered together all his available force, with all the arms and ammunition in the province, and called to his aid his regiment of Highlanders and his Indian allies. During the month of June two minor attacks by the Spaniards on Amelia Island were repulsed. On the 28th thirty-six of their ships, with troops numbering 5,000, approached St. Simon's Island, but made no offensive demonstration until the 5th of the next month, when they raised the red flag and landed their forces on the south end, where they stationed a battery of eighteen guns. Oglethorpe evacuated Fort St. Simon, spiked the guns, destroyed the powder and retired to Frederica, where he strengthened his position for the coming attack, his little band amounting to no more than 650 men. Learning from a scout on the 7th that a division of the Spanish invaders was only two miles from Frederica, Oglethorpe surprised them in the thick woods and killed and captured nearly all of them. He went forward a few miles, and in ambush awaited the approach of the main body of the enemy,

whose coming was not long delayed. Not suspecting danger, the Spaniards halted near the ambush, stacked their arms and failed to set a proper watch. The first intimation of danger was given by a horse which became frightened at the sight of a soldier in the bushes. The command to attack was given by Oglethorpe, and the enemy, taken by surprise, was completely routed with the loss of 259 men. The site of this encounter received the name of Bloody Marsh, the name it still bears. Oglethorpe next planned a night attack upon the Spaniards, thinking to surprise them, but a Frenchman who, unknown to the General, had joined himself to the volunteers, fired his gun and rushed into the enemy's camp. He was pursued by the Indians, who could not overtake him. This caused Oglethorpe to retreat. Knowing that the deserter would divulge the weakness of his force, he conceived a plan to bring his treason to naught. This is his account of the affair:

"The next day I prevailed with a prisoner and gave him a sum of money to carry a letter privately and deliver it to that Frenchman who had deserted. This letter was written in French as if from a friend of his, telling him he had received the money that he should strive to make the Spaniards believe the English were weak. That he should undertake to pilot up their boats and galleys and then bring them under the woods where he knew the hidden batteries were, that if he could bring that about he should have double the reward he had already received. That the French deserters should have all that had been promised to them. The Spanish prisoner got into their camp and was immediately carried before their General, Don Manuel de Montiano. He was asked how he escaped and whether he had any letters, but denying his having any was strictly searched and the letter found; and he, upon being pardoned, confessed that he had received money to deliver it to the Frenchman, for the letter was not directed. The Frenchman denied his knowing anything of the contents of the letter or having received any money or correspondence with me, notwithstanding which a Council of War was held and they deemed the Frenchman to be a double spy, but General Montiano would not suffer him to be executed, having been employed by him; however, they embarked all their troops and halted under Jekyl; they also confined all the French on board and embarked with such precipitation that they left behind them cannon, etc., and those dead of their wounds unburied."

John Wesley.

During the short stay of John Wesley in Georgia, his mind was filled with the importance of the work of religious instruction of the Indians and the settlers, and he decided that George Whitefield was just the man for that work. Accordingly, he wrote so strong an appeal to him that Whitefield came over in the next ship. A portion of the letter reads thus : "What if thou art the man, Mr. Whitefield ? Do you ask me what you shall have? Food to eat and raiment to put on; a house to lay your head in such as your Lord had not, and a crown of glory that fadeth not away." Whitefield's chief work in Georgia was the founding of the orphan asylum, which he named Bethesda, or house of mercy. It opened with forty inmates, and the number ran up to 150. This noble charity still exists, and its good work cannot be overestimated.

Internal Affairs.

A change in the government of the colony was made two years before Oglethorpe's departure, by its division into two counties, each governed by a president and four assistants. These counties were Savannah and Frederica, the former including the territory extending southward to Darien, and the latter including Darien and all the territory to the southern limit of the colony. William Stephens was made president of the county of Savannah, but no appointment was made for Frederica, as Oglethorpe's home was on St. Simon's Island and his authority as governor extended over the whole colony. In 1743, on Oglethorpe's return to England, the plan was modified, and the Trustees made Mr. Stephens president of Georgia. He governed the colony six years, but his administration was not marked by any special act of progress, and the degree of prosperity was inappreciable. Moreover, the colonists became dissatisfied on account of certain regulations of the Trustees which did not exist in the other colonies. Among these were the prohibition of the use of negro slaves and the sale of rum. In June, 1735, and in December, 1738, petitions were sent to the Trustees asking that the use of negro slaves be permitted. Such men as the Rev. George Whitefield and the Rev. Mr. Bolzius, pastor of the Salzburgers, urged the repeal of the restriction in regard to slavery. Finally, yielding to the pressure, the Trustees repealed the regulation against the sale of distilled liquor and allowed the use of slaves under certain conditions.

Another cause of dissatisfaction among the colonists was the restriction which prevented a settler from either mortgaging or selling his lands. This restriction was not removed until May 25, 1750.

Trouble arose in 1749 through fear that the Indians might become hostile. This state of affairs was brought on by a woman. This woman was an Indian, and could speak English. When the colonists landed at Savannah Oglethorpe used her as an interpreter. Her first husband was named Musgrove, and the second Matthews. She afterwards married the Rev. Thomas Bosomworth, a priest of the Church of England, who induced her to make a demand on the colony for 5,000 as compensation for her services and for damages to the property of her first husband. She claimed to be an Indian princess and empress of the Creek Indians. She laid claim to the islands of Ossabaw, Sapelo and St. Catherine's, as well as certain lands just across the river from Savannah, but President Stephens opposed all of her claims and would not agree to anything that she urged. She excited the Indians and marched a large number of them to Savannah, escorted by her husband in his priest's garb, the Indian chiefs and warriors appearing in their feathers and war paint. Notwithstanding the fears of his people, Mr. Stephens assembled the soldiers and declared that the Indians must give up their arms before entering the town. This they did, and the Bosomworths were arrested and locked up. The president addressed the Indians and convinced them that the woman was no princess and that the land claimed by her belonged to the Creek Nation. This brought about peace and quiet. The Bosomworths went to England and tried to persuade the King and the Trustees to comply with their demands, and invoked the aid of the courts. They gave trouble many years and were finally given about 2,000 and a title to St. Catherine's Island, where both of them died and where they are buried.

A change for the better occurred in the year 1750, as at that time the Honorable James Habersham described the condition of the province in these words: "My present thoughts are that the colony never had a better appearance of thriving than now. There have been more vessels loaded here within these ten months than have been since the colony was settled." At that time the population had grown to 1,500. In that year the Trustees resolved that a Provincial Assembly should be established which should be composed of delegates elected by the people, who would then look after the interests of the inhabitants and to suggest to the Trustees those measures which might be considered to be for the good of the colony. It was to meet once a year in Savannah, and each session was not to continue beyond one month. The first session was held Jan. 15, 1751, and was composed of sixteen delegates elected the year before. It lasted twenty-two days, and Francis Harris was elected speaker. That year William Stephens, who had become infirm and aged, resigned the office of president, and on April 8 the Trustees appointed Henry Parker as his successor. James Habersham was made secretary of the colony. The assembly recommended the organization of the militia, and President Parker proceeded to carry out their wishes. The first muster was held in June, 1751, in Savannah, when 220 men appeared under the command of Capt. Noble Jones.

The next year, 1752, a body of people, Congregationalists in religion, under a grant of land situated on the Midway River, moved into Georgia from Dorchester, S. C., and made a valuable addition to the population. From this body have descended some of Georgia's most illustrious citizens.

Georgia a Royal Province.

The end of the period of twenty-one years named in the charter granted to the Trustees was now approaching, and that corporation did not desire a renewal. They accordingly expressed to the Lords of the Council their wish to surrender the trust.

Their wish was granted, and the last meeting of the Trustees was held June 23, 1752, and the colony of Georgia was placed in charge of the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations. At that time only six of the original body were living.

By command of the King the regulations of the Trustees were kept in force and all officers in charge were retained until a new form of government should be adopted. No change was made for more than two years, and Mr. Parker died in office as president. Patrick Graham, of Augusta, was chosen as his successor. The King approved the recommendation of the Lords of the Council that Georgia should be made a royal province, and appointed Capt. John Reynolds of the Royal Navy as the first governor. In place of the old seal which had been defaced when the charter was surrendered, a great seal for the province was designed. The obverse shows a female figure representing the province, kneeling before the King in token of submission, and presenting him with a skein of silk under which is the motto, "Hinc laudem sperate Coloni." The motto engraved around the edge is "Sigillum Provinciae Nostrae Georgiae in America." The reverse bears the coat-of-arms of the King.

The official title of the governor was "CaptainGeneral and Governor-in-Chief of his Majesty's Province of Georgia, and Vice-Admiral of the same." He landed on Georgia soil Oct. 29, 1754, and received a most hearty welcome from the people. The legislature was composed of the upper house of Assembly in which sat twelve members, appointed by the King, and they were also the Governor's council, and the commons house of Assembly, representatives elected by the people from the several districts of the province. No bill could become a law until it passed both houses and was signed by the governor.

Under the new regime the first legislature met Jan. 7, 1755, when only twelve acts were passed and became laws.

The province of Georgia was not in the prosperous condition that Governor Reynolds was led to believe existed at the time of his appointment, and he did not do anything during his administration to make it a success. He laid off the town of Hardwicke on the Ogeechee River, which never developed into importance. He did give up much of his time to the improvement of the defenses of the province. He endeavored to make a treaty with the Indians at Augusta, but failed to awaken any interest on their part, and was called back to Savannah by the arrival of two vessels with 400 Acadians on board. Under the Georgia laws no Catholics were permitted to land, and Governor Reynolds did not know how to act in this case. They were allowed to remain and were protected during that winter, but nearly all of them went away as soon as they were able to do so. The governor did not remain on good terms with his council or the legislature. Complaint was made to the Lords Commissioners of the Board of Trade and Plantations, and on Aug. 3, 1756, they summoned him to appear before them. They appointed Henry Ellis lieutenant-governor of the province, to take charge during the absence of Reynolds, and he landed at Savannah on Feb. 16, 1757. Reynolds departed the same day.

In taking control Lieutenant-Governor Ellis perceived that he had undertaken a most important work, and that many necessary changes in the methods then employed would require his special attention. He immediately set to work to place the province in a good condition to guard it against invasion.

It was his wish that the seat of government should be changed, and that Hardwicke should be the capital. He entered into an agreement of peace and friendship with the Creeks, which was a matter of great importance because of the war then in progress between England and France.

The legislature met in June, four months after his arrival, at which time he delivered his inaugural address in which he said: "I can, with unfeigned sincerity, declare that I enter upon this station with the most disinterested views, without prejudice to any man or body of men, or retrospect to past transactions or disputes, but animated with warmest zeal for whatever concerns your happiness or the public utility, sincerely inclined to concur with you in every just and necessary measure, and fully resolved that if, unfortunately, my wishes and endeavors prove fruitless, to be the first to solicit my recall."

The next year, 1758, was marked by the first move towards the founding of a town which, for a time, was almost as important in the matter of trade as was Savannah, and which seemed destined to surpass her in the amount of business carried on there. It was on June 20 that a grant of 300 acres of land was made to five trustees for the purpose of laying out a town to be called Sunbury. It was situated in the district known as Midway, in which the settlers from Dorchester, S. C., had located. Its prosperity was not long-lived.

It was in this year that the province was divided into parishes. There were eight of them: Christ Church, which included Savannah; St. Matthew's, in which was Ebenezer; St. Paul's, of which Augusta was the chief town; St. George's, with Halifax as the most important place; St. Philip's, which was the great Ogeechee district; St. John's, peopled by the Dorchester settlers; St. Andrew's, with Darien as its principal point of interest; and the Frederica district, which was the parish of St. James. Four new parishes were created in 1765, known as St. Patrick's, St. David's, St. Thomas's and St. Mary's.

The administration of Governor Reynolds officially ended by his removal from office in 1758, when Henry Ellis became actual governor and administered the affairs of Georgia until 1760, when he was relieved by the arrival of Lieutenant-Governor James Wright, who was appointed to that office on the application of Governor Ellis in 1759 for leave of absence. The growth of the province under Governor Ellis, in commerce as well as in population, was remarkable. The trust committed to him was executed with much care, and he showed his ability for governing to a marked degree. His dealings with the Creek Indians made them the friends of Georgia, and in consequence the troubles which arose in other provinces in America between the whites and the Indians were averted.

Governor Wright - Steps to Independence.

Governor Wright, as already stated, reached Georgia on Oct. 11, 1760, and, though his office then was lieutenant-governor, he was really the governor until his official appointment as such with the title of "Captain-General, Governor and Commander-inChief of the Province of Georgia," by virtue of a commission bearing date March 20, 1761. The commission, however, was not received by him until nearly ten months after its date. Like his predecessor, his first object of care was that of looking after the defenses of the province, and he sent a message to the Assembly, calling the attention of that body to the necessity for prompt action in that matter. He decided that it would be unwise to remove the seat of government from Savannah to Hardwicke, a step which both Reynolds and Ellis had advocated.

George IL, who had granted the charter and after whom the colony was named, died in October, 1760, just about the time that Wright arrived at Savannah, but the news was not received in the province until February, 1761, causing the adjournment of the Assembly and the holding of services in memory of the dead King.

By the provisions of the Treaty of Paris the territory of Florida was ceded to England, and George III. changed the boundary between that territory and Georgia by which all the land between Florida's northern line and the Altamaha River was added to Governor Wright's jurisdiction, and a new commission was issued to him in which the limits of the province were fixed. One of the matters treated of in the proclamation of George Ill., concerning the territory acquired by the Treaty of Paris, related to the Indian tribes to whom he allotted the lands lying between the Mississippi and the head waters of the streams flowing into the Atlantic. From these lands the white people were for the time being excluded. He desired that friendly relations should exist between the Indians and the whites, and issued orders to the governors of Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia to hold a conference with the Indian chiefs. The conference, so ordered, was held at Augusta, and was attended by 700 Indians. It lasted five days and Governor Wright was the presiding officer. It resulted in a very satisfactory treaty, which was signed by all of the parties interested. The convention opened on Nov. 5, 1763.

Until the adoption of the Stamp Act, Governor Wright's conduct appears to have been satisfactory to the people; but after that time his life in Georgia was, if we may take his own letters as evidence, very miserable. When the Massachusetts proposition of a congress was received, Alexander Wylly, the speaker of the commons house of Assembly, summoned that body to a meeting, and about two-thirds of the members, sixteen in number, attended. The meeting was held Sept. 2, 1765, and the delegates pledged "their hearty cooperation in every measure for the support of their common rights." Governor Wright, however, succeeded in preventing the appointment of representatives of the province in the proposed congress. In October he ordered the troops to attend a muster in honor of the King, whose ascension to the throne happened five years before, on the 26th day of that month; but although a large number assembled, they took no part in the programme prepared and marched through the streets, denouncing the Stamp Act and even uttering threats against Governor Wright. William Knox, the Assembly's agent in England, defended the act, and the Assembly, on Nov. 15, 1765, "resolved to give instructions to the committee of correspondence to acquaint William Knox, agent for this province, that the province has no further occasion for his services."

December 5 of the same year, a little more than a month after the Stamp Act was to take effect, His Majesty's ship Speedwell arrived at Savannah with the first stamps, but from the first of November until their arrival the governor had stopped the issue of all grants and warrants and gave passes to vessels in which it was certified that neither the stamped paper nor the distributing officer had arrived. The officer, Mr. Angus, arrived Jan. 3, 1766, and landed secretly, as the governor had received information that 200 Liberty Boys had organized and threatened to break into the fort and destroy the papers. Governor Wright had previously caused the stamps to be placed in Fort Halifax in care of the commissary. Excitement ran high. Mr. Angus was forced to seek refuge in the house of the governor, with a guard set around it, where he remained a fortnight and then left the city. Threatening letters were sent to Governor Wright, and James Habersham, president of the council, was waylaid and forced to take refuge under the roof of the governor, as the stamp distributor had done. Finally the stamps were, on February 3, deposited on board the man-of-war which had brought them over. The only use to which any of them had been put was to clear out between sixty and seventy vessels collected in the port of Savannah and which could not sail without them.

With the repeal of the Stamp Act quiet settled upon Georgia, but, as the governor well said, it was "but a temporary calm."

On Jan. 20, 1767, the governor, under the terms of the "Mutiny Act," called upon the Assembly for the supplies for the King's soldiers on duty in the province. In reply, on February 18, they sent him word that "they humbly conceived their complying with the requisition would be a violation of the trust reposed in them by their constituents, and founding a precedent they by no means think themselves justifiable in introducing." The governor found it prudent to let the matter rest there, and could only send the proceedings of the Assembly to the King's ministers.

When Mr. Knox was deposed from his office of agent the governor desired the appointment of Mr. Cumberland, but the Assembly disregarded his wish and appointed Mr. Samuel Garth, who represented South Carolina in the same way. This did not satisfy the governor and council, and no agent was employed from that time until 1768, when Benjamin Franklin became agent and served until the War of the Revolution.

The Stamp Act having failed, another measure was adopted by Parliament which was calculated to call forth a strong protest from the colony. This was a bill to tax certain articles of commerce, and against a compliance with it the Massachusetts House of Representatives urged the other provinces to take united action. Another letter came from Virginia, and, when the Georgia Assembly met and had transacted its regular business, the house ordered these letters recorded in the journal and indorsed the action of the other provinces. This called forth a message of protest from Governor Wright ordering that the Assembly be dissolved. Dr. Noble Wymberly Jones was the speaker of the Assembly. He has been styled "one of the morning stars of liberty in Georgia," and Governor Wright therefore did not hold him in high esteem. The council was composed of men in favor with the British government, but the commons house of Assembly held an opposing view of affairs. When, therefore, Dr. Jones was again elected speaker of the house, the governor refused to recognize him and ordered that body to elect another speaker. The house refused to do so and the Assembly was again dissolved.

In July, 1771, Governor Wright, having obtained a leave of absence, went to England, and James Habersham was named by the King to act in his place, with the title of president. The last Assembly had, by resolution, declared that the governor had no right to reject a speaker chosen by them, and the King had virtually ordered Mr. Habersham to refuse to recognize as speaker any one who should be the first choice of that body. Therefore, when it met on April 21, 1772, and elected Dr. Jones, Mr. Habersham ordered another election. Again they elected Dr. Jones, whom the president rejected. When, for the third time, he was elected Dr. Jones declined to serve, and Archibald Bulloch was chosen. Him the president accepted. These proceedings were entered on the journal, and Mr. Habersham ordered that they be expunged, but the Assembly refused to obey, and he dissolved it.

After an absence of nineteen months Governor Wright returned in February, 1773, and his first act was to acquire from the Indians a tract of land containing 2,100,000 acres, in payment of a debt due by the Indians to the traders.

When the Boston Port Bill was passed a meeting of the patriots in Georgia was held at Savannah to express their sympathy for the people of that city. The meeting was held on July 27, 1774, but was not largely attended, and, in order that the whole colony might be represented and take part in the matter, it was adjourned to August 10. Among other things, the resolutions declared that the action of the British Parliament in passing that bill and other measures acted "contrary to natural justice and the spirit of the English Constitution." A subscription was taken for the Bostonians, and 600 casks of rice were sent to them. Jonathan Bryan, the only patriot member of the Council, was present at the meeting, and when Governor Wright convened them a motion was made to expel Mr. Bryan, but that gentleman said, "I will save you that trouble," and handed in his resignation.

A Provisional Congress was held in Savannah in January, 1775, one of the objects of which was to elect delegates to the Continental Congress to be held in Philadelphia in May, and Noble Wymberly Jones, Archibald Bulloch and John Houstoun were elected, but they did not attend, as only a small number of the parishes were represented in the body which elected them, and it was thought that their right to represent the province might be questioned. They sent a letter to the Continental Congress, and this is an extract from it: "There are still men in Georgia who, when an occasion shall require, will be ready to evince a steady, religious and manly attachment to the liberties of America." Dr. Lyman Hall was sent as a delegate to that Congress from St. John's parish, and was admitted "subject to such regulations as the Congress should determine relative to voting."

On the night of May 11, 1775, Joseph Habersham led a party of six men who broke into the powder magazine and took away all the ammunition it contained. Some of it was sent to South Carolina and some to Boston, and it is said that some of it was used at the battle of Bunker Hill. On June 5, 1775, the King's birthday, the first liberty pole was raised in Georgia. Following the example of the other colonies the people of Savannah, on June 22, 1775, elected a Council of Safety, of which William Ewen was made president. This council called a Provincial Congress to meet in Savannah July 4, 1775. Every parish was represented, and Archibald Bulloch was elected president. It endorsed all the proceedings of the Continental Congress, and fell in line with the other colonies so far as they had acted in regard to the oppressive measures adopted by Great Britain. Five delegates were elected to the Continental Congress, namely, Archibald Bulloch, John Houstoun, Rev. John Joachim Zubly, Noble Wymberly Jones and Dr. Lyman Hall. The Congress established a Council of Safety in place of the council previously elected by the people, which body was authorized to act while the Provincial Congress was not in session. During this session of Congress it was ascertained that a British ship was shortly expected to arrive with 14,000 pounds of gunpowder. An armed schooner manned by Commodore Oliver Bowen, Maj. Joseph Habersham and others, under commission of the Congress, proceeded to Tybee and captured the vessel. Part of her cargo was retained for use at home, and the rest was sent to General Washington.

On Jan. 17, 1776, several British war vessels appeared at the mouth of the Savannah River, and the Council of Safety ordered the arrest of Governor Wright so as to prevent his holding communication with them. Maj. Joseph Habersham volunteered, on the 18th, to carry out this resolve with the aid of some of his young friends. On the same day he boldly passed the guard at the governor's residence, made his way into the dining-room, where a dinner party had assembled, laid his hand upon the governor and said: "Sir James, you are my prisoner." The party were so astonished at this bold act that they fled. The governor gave his solemn promise not to make an attempt to escape, but, disregarding his parole, he did escape on February 11, and secured safety on board a British ship lying in the river below the city of Savannah. A new Provincial Congress convened in Savannah on Jan. 22, 1776, and Archibald Bulloch was again elected president. A form of government was adopted, and the title of chief magistrate was changed from governor to "President and Commander-in-Chief of Georgia." To this new office Archibald Bulloch was elected.

The delegates to the Continental Congress from Georgia, elected in July, 1775, were Archibald Bulloch, John Houstoun, Dr. J. J. Zubly, Dr. Lyman Hall and Dr. Noble Wymberly Jones. In January, 1776, Bulloch, Houstoun and Hall were reelected, but Button Gwinnett and George Walton succeeded Zubly and Jones. Archibald Bulloch could not attend on account of duties he had to perform at home as President of Georgia, and John Houstoun was detained at home. The Declaration of Independence, therefore, was signed only by Hall, Gwinnett and Walton, and the news of the passage of that most important measure reached the people of Georgia on Aug. 10, 1776, by whom it was received with demonstrations of great joy. By it Georgia agreed to stand with the other twelve colonies in abjuring allegiance to the mother country, and the thirteen sisters continued to stand together until their independence was secured, holding fast all the time to the resolve that progress should mark every step in their history.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. - Jones, Charles C., Jr.: History of Georgia (2 vols.); McCall, Hugh: History of Georgia (2 vols.); Harris, T. M.: Memorials of Oglethorpe; Stevens, Wm. Bacon: History of Georgia (2 vols.); Georgia Colonial Records, published by the State; Collections of the Georgia Historical Society (6 vols.)

WILLIAM HARDEN,
Librarian, Savannah Public Library.


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