General James Oglethorpe
IT is a sad experience to get a necessity and then find it utterly impossible to raise the money to pay for it. This means debt, and debt often means suffering to honest men.
And if debt means suffering here in America
Now, the debtors' prisons were often visited by an English general, James Oglethorpe. He was of a kind and sympathetic nature, and it seemed to him a dreadful thing—this imprisonment for debt. Was there no way to help these poor people in their misery?
While he was pondering as to what he could do, an opportunity came. The English colony of South Carolina in America lay exposed to attacks from the Spaniards in Florida. The South Carolina settlers needed protection on the south. Here was Oglethorpe's chance. Why could not the most deserving of the poor imprisoned debtors be taken to America? And why could they not be settled in a colony which would serve as a military outpost against the Spaniards?
General Oglethorpe laid his
scheme before the
English King and
the English Government. Both
The land lying
between the Savannah and the
was granted to the
new colony. The
colony was named
Georgia in honor
In January, 1733, General Oglethorpe, his released debtors and their families, entered the Savannah River. Upon the arrival of the settlers, an Indian chief came forward and welcomed them. "Here is a present for you," said he to Oglethorpe. It was a buffalo hide, painted on the inside with the head and feathers of an eagle. "The feathers are soft and signify love, the buffalo skin is the emblem of protection; therefore love and protect us and our families," said the chief. From this time the Indians were kindly treated by Oglethorpe; and, as usual, they rewarded friendship with friendship.
The settlers bought from the Indians the land along the southern bank of the Savannah River, laid out a town, and named it Savannah.
Later other emigrants came and made other settlements in Georgia. These were persecuted Protestants from Germany and Austria, Scotch peasants from the Highlands, and even a small party of settlers from New England.
True to his promise to make his colony a military outpost against the Spaniards, Governor Oglethorpe built forts and insisted on military drills.
There were other things he insisted upon. No liquor could be imported into the colony, and no colonist could have slaves. Having no slaves, the settlers themselves were forced to work. The raising of rice and indigo were the chief occupations.
Before many years General Oglethorpe had a chance to
prove that his colony made a valuable protection for
South Carolina. In 1739 war broke out between Spain and
England. The next spring Oglethorpe gathered an army of
colonists and friendly Indians and marched into
Florida. For five weeks the English besieged
The Spaniards now determined to invade Georgia. Great
preparations were made. Finally
For ten years Governor Oglethorpe devoted himself to his colony. In 1743 he bade adieu to his sorrowing friends, both the settlers and the Indians, and left for his English home. Here he lived to a good old age, honored and loved by his countrymen as much as by the unfortunate debtors whom he had treated so kindly.