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Founding the Colony of Georgia

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Early Civilization Quiz

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Spanish Exploration Quiz

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The Beginnings of Georgia

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The Beginnings of Georgia

The last american colony was Georgia, founded in 1732, 50 years after the other twelve. It was founded by James Oglethorpe, a well-educated and wealthy prison reformer. Oglethorpe was a member of Parliament, which is England's legislature, who was concerned about the atrocious and crowded conditions of his country's debtor's prisons. Great Britain (or England) had many debtors, or poor people who could not afford to pay back their debts. There were more people than there were jobs so many people made no money at all. Laws in England during this time were strict and harsh, and anyone who could not pay their debts was sent to jail.

One of Oglethorpe's friends, Robert Castell, could not pay a debt and was sent to prison where he contracted smallpox and died. This angered Oglethorpe and led him to believe that instead of sending debtors to prison the government should try to find jobs for them so that they could pay back their debts. Eventually, Oglethorpe came up with the idea to ship the inmates to America where there was plenty of room and they could find employment.

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The Charter of 1732

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The Charter of 1732

King George II granted a Charter for twenty-one years to a board of trustees for the land that would become the colony of Georgia. A charter is a document that grants rights to create a government. The Charter of 1732 officially created the colony of Georgia. There were originally twenty one trustees, inlcuding Oglethorpe, named in the Charter of 1732 . A trustee is someone who is trusted to rule and operate a territory for the benefit of other people.

The new colony was a British colony named Georgia, after King George II of England who had granted the charter to Oglethorpe. All the rights of Englishmen were guaranteed to the colonies, including freedom of religion to all religions except Catholics. At first, no African Americans, Catholics, or lawyers were allowed in the colony.

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Purposes of Founding Georgia

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Purposes of Founding the Colony of Georgia

The Charter of 1732 specifically identified three purposes for the founding of the colony of Georgia. Those three purposes were charity, economics, and defense.

Charity meant that they wanted to help the debtors in England who could not pay off their debts by providing them a new home to find a job.

Economics meant they wanted to make more money for the "mother country," England. The "mother" country was the country that created the colony. The American colonies were rich in natural resources that were sent back to England where they were processed into finished goods that could be sold for high profits.

And defense meant they wanted Georgia to be a "buffer" between Florida to the south and South Carolina to the north. Florida was a Spanish colony and South Carolina was an English colony. Spain and England were bitter rivals and enemies and England considered the Spanish in Florida to be the greatest threat to their American colonies, so they created Georgia as a way to protect the colony of South Carolina.

But there was one more, "unofficial" purpose that was not included in the Charter of 1732, and that is religion. Spreading the Protestant (Christian) religion was not officially written as a purpose in the Charter, but it was still an important goal.

 

 

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Who Was in Charge?

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Who Was in Charge?

The Charter of 1732 put a group of 21 TRUSTEES in charge of ruling over the colony. James Oglethorpe was one of the trustees and most of the other ones were members of the British Parliament.  

To make sure that the trustees were making laws and policies in the best interest of the colonists, the Charter of 1732 said that they could not own land in GA, hold political office in GA, or be paid any money for being a trustee.  This meant all of the trustees lived in England.  Oglethorpe was really the only trustee that ever visited the colony.  

Many of the rules and regulations that the trustees made the colonists follow made the colonists very angry.  For example, Georgia was the only English colony in North America that did not allow slavery or drinking alcohol. The Georgia colonists felt this was unfair since the people in all of the other American colonies were allowed to have slaves and drink alcohol.

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Arriving in America

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Arriving in America

James Oglethorpe set sail for Georgia with a group of men aboard a ship called the "Ann."  Oglethorpe was a smart man and had studied the history of European exploration in the "New World."  He knew about Hernando De Soto and how his conflicts with the Natives made his expedition a failure and also cost him his life.  Oglethorpe was determined not to repeat the mistakes of De Soto, so he decided he would try to befriend and create an alliance with the Natives in Georgia.  

One of the main Indian tribes in Georgia at this time was the Yamacraw Indians and their chief was a man named Tomochichi.  Oglethorpe decided that before the "Ann" landed on shore he would ride ashore on a small boat and try to create an alliance with Tomochichi and the Yamacraw  Indians.  But Oglethorpe faced a major problem: how would he communicate with Tomochichi since they both spoke different languages?  To solve this problem Oglethorpe traveled to a trading post where he discovered a woman named Mary Musgrove who was part Yamacraw and part British.  Musgrove was familiar with both culture and spoke both English and the Yamacraw language.  With the help of Mary Musgrove Oglethorpe was able to build a close friendship with Tomochichi that lasted until the chief's death in 1739. If Oglethorpe was unable to create a friendship and alliance with Tomochichi and the Yamacraw Indians the chances for successfully establishing the colony of Georgia would have decreased a great deal.

Tomochichi agreed to allow the "Ann" to land at Yamacraw Bluff on the Savannah River.  As soon as they landed Oglethorpe and his men began establishing the first settlement in the colony of Georgia, the city of Savannah.

 

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Founding of Georgia Quiz

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