My Georgia History

James E. Oglethorpe

James Edward Oglethorpe, the father of Georgia, was born in London, England on December 22, 1696. Jamie, as he was called, didn’t remember a lot about his father.  His father died when Jamie was five years old. The job of raising James and his six siblings fell on his mother, Lady Eleanor Oglethorpe.  Eleanor loved her children and gave them her best.

James attended Eaton and Oxford and was elected to the British Parliament in 1722. In Parliament he headed a committee looking into the debtors prisons. He found terrible things and ill practices. In fact he had a friend, Robert Castel, who was a well-to-do architect who had been thrown into prison because he was unable to meet the demands of his creditors.  The young man died in prison.

In 1732, King George II granted a charter for another colony in America, Georgia.  It was the last of the original 13 Colonies. Oglethorpe asked Parliament, to make Georgia a debtor’s colony. Parliament said no that if you were in debtors’ prison you would stay there.  But Parliament did help people with no money that were willing and able to work cross the ocean and come to Georgia.  In January of 1733, James Oglethorpe and 120 colonists arrived in America. They settled where the city of Savannah now stands.

In 1736, Roger Lacy and Kennedy O’Brian were sent out by Oglethorpe to establish a front door to the back country. The two men traveled up the Savannah River and chose the site where Fort Augusta was built. Oglethorpe knew that whoever controlled the Indian trade would control the Indians.

In 1735, Parliament passed several laws for Georgia.  To hunt or trap in Georgia you had to have a Georgia license.  When you bought your license you had to pay bond money in case the Indians filed a complaint.  You had to have a Georgia license, no other license would do.  If you were caught, without a license you would be fined.  Another Act was the “No Rum Act.”  The Carolinians had been trading rum for deer skins. The Indians felt, they had been made drunk and then cheated.  Oglethorpe put an end to this with the “No Rum Act.”   In 1735, slaves were forbidden in Georgia with the “No Slave Act.” The Spaniards, who tried to claim Georgia, settled in Florida. If the Spaniards and Indians of Florida were to attack Georgia, if we had slaves, they might join them.  In 1742, the Spanish did attack Georgia. Do you remember the “Battle of Bloody Marsh,” when the Spanish were unsuccessful?  But the decision was made in 1749 allowing slaves in Georgia.

Fort Augusta was big in Indian trading.  Oglethorpe didn’t want the Indians to come to Augusta, but the traders to go to the Indians.  The traders would pack all their trading items on mules or horses, put bright ribbons in their manes, and bells around their necks.  You could hear them coming a mile away.  The longest recorded horse train was 200 horses.  James Edward Oglethorpe was the best thing that happened to Georgia.  He was a good man and a great leader.  He spent 91,705 lbs. of his own money.  We have a lot to thank him for.  He set sail for England, arriving in London, on September 28, 1743.  He lived out the remainder of his life there, dying on June 30, 1785.  James Edward Oglethorpe, the father of Georgia.

Written by Mark Woodard

Research sources:

  • The Story of Augusta. Cashin, Edward J. Spartanburg, SC. The Reprint Company Publishing. (1996)
  • Augusta, A Pictorial History. Callahan, Helen. Richmond County Historical Society Publisher. (1980)
  • Confederate City, Augusta Georgia 1860-1865. Corley, Florence Fleming. (1995)
  • Memorial History of Augusta, Georgia. Jones, Charles C. Spartanburg, SC. The Reprint Publishers. (1890)
  • James Edward Oglethorpe. Blackburn, Joyce. Mockingbird Books. (1970)
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