"Georgia received its name, in 1732, in honor of George II, King of England.
The territory of Georgia was originally included in the Carolina patent granted to Lord Clarendon and his associates, but it was a region wild and unoccupied, except by aboriginal tribes at the time the proprietors surrendered their interest in it to the crown in 1729. The king could therefore choose to re-grant the territory to whom be pleased. But, at the same time, Spain laid claim to it, claiming it as a part of Florida.
In 1732, several gentlemen in England, at the head of whom was James Oglethorpe, a member of the British Parliament, and greatly distinguished for his philanthropic views, organized a plan for planting a colony in America for the indigent and persecuted in Britain; where the one class might find relief from poverty, and the other from persecution.
George II, in token of his approbation of the enterprise, granted to a corporation, 'in trust for the poor,' the said territory of Georgia, which was to be apportioned gratuitously among the settlers. Liberal donations were made by the charitable, to defray the expenses of the first company of settlers to the new province.
In November of the same year, these, consisting of one hundred and sixteen in number, embarked from England, under the kind and enterprising Oglethorpe; and, after touching at Charleston, they landed, in February, on the banks of the Savannah River. For several days the people were employed in erecting a fortification, and in felling the woods, while Oglethorpe marked out the town. This was begun on Yamacraw Bluff, to which was given the name Savannah after the Indian name of the river. The fort being completed, the guns mounted, and the colony put in a state of safety, the next object of Oglethorpe's attention was to treat with the Indians for a share of their possessions.
In pursuance of this object, he collected fifty chiefs, before whom he spread his wants and wishes, in regard to the purchase of territory. He then distributed presents; upon which, Tomochichi, in the name of the Creeks, made a speech to him. Among other things, he said, 'Here is a little present;' and then gave him a buffalo's skin, painted on the inside with the head and feathers of an eagle, and desired him to accept it, 'because the eagle signified Speed, and the buffalo Strength.' The English, he proceeded to say, 'are swift as a bird, and as strong as a beast; since, like the first, they fly over the vast seas, and, like the second, nothing can withstand them. The feathers of the eagle are Soft, and signify Love; the buffalo's skin is Warm, and signify Protection;' he hoped, therefore, that fuel would love and protect their families.
In treating with these and other Indians, Oglethorpe was greatly assisted by an Indian woman, whom he found at Savannah, by the name of Mary Musgrove. She had resided among the English in another part of the country, and was well acquainted with their language. She was of great use, therefore, to Oglethorpe, as an interpreter, for which service he gave her a hundred pounds a year.
Among those who came over with Oglethorpe was a man by the name of Thomas Bosomworth, who was the chaplain of the colony. Soon after his arrival at Savannah, he married the above mentioned Mary Musgrove. Unhappily, Bosomworth was at heart a bad man. He was distinguished for his pride, and a love of riches and influence. He was also artful and intriguing; yet, on account of his profession, he was, for a time, much respected by the Indians.
At one of the great councils of the Indians, Bosomworth induced the chiefs to crown Malatche, one of the greatest among them, Empress of all the Creeks. After this, he persuaded his wife to call herself the eldest sister of Malatcbe; and she told the Indians that one of her grandfathers had been made king, by the Great Spirit, over all the Creeks. The Indians, believing what Mary told them, as they had become very proud of her since Oglethorpe had been so kind to her, acknowledged her for their queen. Upon this, they called a great meeting of the chiefs, and Mary made them a long talk. She told them that the whites were their enemies, and had done them much injury; that they were taking away the lands of the Indians, and would soon drive them from all their possessions. Said she, 'We must assert our rights; we must drive them from our territories! Let us call forth our warriors; I will head them. Stand by me, and the houses which they have erected shall smoke in ruins!' The spirit of Queen Mary [Bosomworth] was contagious. Every chief present declared himself ready to defend her to the last drop of his blood.
After due preparation, the warriors were called forth. They had painted themselves afresh, and sharpened anew their tomahawks for battle. Their march was now commenced. Queen Mary, attended by her infamous husband, the real author and instigator of all their discontent, headed the rugged throng. Before they reached Savannah, their approach was announced. The people were alarmed. They were few in number, and though they had a fortification and cannon, they had no good reason to hope that they should he able to ward off the deadly blow which was aimed against them. By this time, the Indians were in sight of Savannah. At this critical moment, an Englishman by the name of Noble Jones, a bold and daring man, rode forth, with a few spirited men, on horseback, to meet them. As he approached them, he exclaimed in a voice like thunder, 'Ground your arms! ground your arms! Not an armed Indian shall set his foot in this town.'
Awe-struck at his lofty tone, and perceiving him and his companions ready to dash in among them, they paused, and soon after laid down their arms. Bosomworth and his queen were now summoned to march into the city; the Indian chiefs were also allowed to enter, but without their arms. On reaching the parade-ground, the thunder of fifteen cannon, fired at the same moment, told them what they might expect, should they persist in their hostile designs. The Indians were now marched to the house of the president of the council in Savannah. Bosomworth was required to leave the Indians, while the president had a friendly talk with them.
In his address to them, he assured them of the kindness of the English,
and demanded what they meant by coming in this warlike manner. In reply, they told the president that they had heard that Mary was to be sent over the great waters, and they had come to learn why they were to lose their queen. Finding that the Indians had been deceived, and that Bosomworth was the author of all the trouble, and that he had even intended to get possession of the magazine, and to destroy the whites, the council directed him to he seized and thrown in prison. This step Mary resented with great spirit. Rushing forth among the Indians, she openly cursed Oglethorpe, although he had raised her from poverty, and declared that the whole world should know that the ground she trod upon was her own.
The warlike spirit of the Indians thus being likely renewed, it was thought advisable to imprison Mary also. This was accordingly done. At the same time, to appease the Indians, a sumptuous feast was made for the chiefs by the president, who, during the better state of feeling which seemed to prevail, took occasion to explain to them the wickedness of Bosomworth, and how, by falsehood and cunning, he had. led them to believe that Mary was really their queen; — a descendent of one of their great chiefs. 'Brothers,' said he, 'This is not true; Queen Mary is no other than Mary Musgrove, whom I found poor, and who has been made the dupe of the artful Bosomworth, and you brothers, the dupes of both.'
The aspect of things was now pleasant. The Indians were beginning to be satisfied of the villainy of Bosomworth, and of the real character of Mary; but, at this moment, the door was thrown open, and, to the surprise of all, Mary burst into the room. She had made her escape from prison, and, learning what was going on, she rushed forward, with the fury of a tigress. 'Seize your arms!' exclaimed she, 'Seize your arms! Remember your promise, and defend your queen!' The sight of their queen seemed to bring back, in a moment, all the original ardor of the enterprise. In an instant, every chief seized his tomahawk, and sprang from the ground, to rally at the call of their queen.
At this moment Captain Jones, who was present, perceiving the danger of
the president and the other whites, drew his sword, and demanded peace. The majesty of his bearing, the fire of his eye, the glittering of his sword, told Queen Mary what she might expect, should she attempt to raise any higher the feverish spirits of her subjects. The Indians cast an eye towards her, as if to inquire what they should do. Her expression fell. Perceiving his advantage, Jones stepped forward, and, in the presence of the Indians, seized Mary, and conducted her back to prison. A short imprisonment so far humbled Bosomworth and Mary, that each wrote a letter, confessing what they had done, and promising, if released, that they would conduct with more propriety in the future
The colony, for many reasons, did not flourish. In their regulations for its management, the trustees enacted that all lands granted by them to settlers should revert back, in case of failure, of male succession; although certain privileges were to be allowed to widows and daughters. At the same time, all trade with the Indians was prohibited, unless by virtue of social license. The use of Africans and the importation of rum were absolutely forbidden. In all this, the trustees were, actuated by the purest motives, and a regard to the health and morals of the inhabitants; but the system of regulations was unfitted to the condition of the poor settlers, and was highly injurious to their increase and prosperity.
Emigrants, however, continued to arrive. The first adventurers being poor and un-enterprising; a more active and efficient group was desirable. To induce such to settle in the colony, eleven towns were laid out in shares of fifty acres each, one of which was offered to each new settler. Upon this, large numbers of Swiss, Scotch, and Germans became adventurers to the colony. Within three years from the first settlement, one thousand four hundred planters had arrived. To aid the colony, Parliament made several grants of money, and individuals also gave considerable sums for the same purpose. Owing, however, to the unpractical regulations of the trustees, the colony maintained only a feeble existence.
When Oglethorpe had satisfactorily arranged the affairs of his little colony, he visited England, taking with him Tomochichi and his queen, and several other Indians. In 1736, he once more returned to Georgia, with a reinforcement of three hundred emigrants. He was accompanied by the celebrated John Wesley, who came on a mission to preach to the colonists, and convert the Indians. But while he made some proselytes among the former, he made, it is said, more enemies. After a residence of two years, he returned to England; where he laid the foundation of that large and still growing denomination, the Methodists.
Two years later, he was succeeded by the famous George Whitefield, The object of this great man was to establish an orphan house in Georgia, where poor children might be properly provided for, and instructed in the principles of religion. He often crossed the Atlantic, and in both England and America was the instrument of converting thousands. His orphan asylum did not flourish. After a long illness he died at Newburyport, Massachusetts.
In 1740, General Oglethorpe, having been appointed commander-in-chief of the forces of South Carolina and Georgia, projected an expedition against St. Augustine. Aided by Virginia and Carolina, he marched at the head of more than two thousand men, for Florida; and, after taking two small Spanish forts, Diego and Moosa, he sat down before St. Augustine. Captain Price, with several twenty-gun ships assisted by sea; but, after an their exertions, the general was forced to raise the siege, and return, with considerable loss.
Two years after in 1742, the Spaniards in turn invaded Georgia. A Spanish armament, consisting of thirty-two sail, with three thousand men, under command of Don Manuel de Monteano, sailed from St. Augustine, and arrived in the river Altamaha. General Oglethorpe was, at this time, at Fort Simons. Finding himself unable to retain possession of it, having but about seven hundred men, he spiked his cannon, and, destroying his military stores, retreated to his headquarters at Frederica. On the first prospect of an invasion, General Oglethorpe had applied. to the Governor of South Carolina for assistance; but the Carolinians, fearing for the safety of their own territory, and not approving of General Oglethorpe's management in his late expedition against St. Augustine, declined to furnish troops, but voted supplies.
In this state of danger and perplexity, the general resorted to stratagem. A French soldier belonging to his army had deserted to the enemy. Fearing the consequences of their learning his weakness, he devised a plan by which to destroy the credit of any information that the deserter might give. With this view, he wrote a letter to the French deserter in the Spanish camp, addressing him as if he were a spy of the English. This letter he bribed a Spanish captive to deliver, in which he directed the deserter to state to the Spaniards that he was in a weak and defenseless condition, and to urge them to an attack.
Should he not be able, however, to persuade them to this, he wished him to induce them to continue three days longer at their quarters, in which time he expected two thousand men and six British men-of-war, from Carolina. The above letter, as was intended, was delivered to the Spanish general, instead of the deserter, who immediately put the latter in irons. A council of war was called; and, while deliberating upon the measures which should be taken, three supply-ships, which had been voted by Carolina, appeared in sight. Imagining these to be the men-of-war alluded to in the letter, the Spaniards, in great haste, fired the fort, and embarked, leaving behind them several cannon, and a quantity of provisions. By this artful but unjustifiable expedient, the country was relieved of its invaders, and Georgia, and probably a great part of South Carolina, saved from ruin.
In 1743, Oglethorpe, the founder, friend, and protector of the colony, returned to England, to visit it no more. He left it in a state of tranquility; but it had never flourished. The emigrants were poor and inefficient. They were prohibited slave labor, and were cut off from a free title to the land they cultivated. At length, the trustees finding the colony continue to languish, and wearied themselves with the complaints of the colonists, they surrendered their charter to the crown; and from this time Georgia was and continued to be a royal province until the American Revolution, which unbound the fetters of all.
Source: A History of the United States, by Charles A. Goodrich, 1857