The Founding Of Georgia
The debatable land.—In the great triangle formed by the Carolinas, Florida, and southeastern Louisiana, English, Spanish, and French came into close proximity. The international boundaries had never been satisfactorily defined and each power strove to acquire control of the powerful Indian tribes of the interior, thereby gaining territory and trade. To protect the border and to aid the Charleston traders, in 1716 the Carolinians established a fort on the Savannah River, and from 1721 to 1727 maintained Ft. King George on the Altamaha. In 1730 Sir Alexander Cuming was sent on a mission to the Cherokees, on which he succeeded in obtaining an acknowledgment of English supremacy, considerably strengthening the English position.
Azilia.—The need of a buffer colony on the southern border was long realized by English statesmen. In 1717 a project was launched which gave promise of fulfillment. Sir Robert Montgomery secured from the Carolina proprietors a grant of the lands between the Savannah and Altamaha Rivers which was called the Margravate of Azilia. Plans for its settlement were drawn up and an attempt made to obtain colonists, but Sir Robert failed to attract settlers and the grant lapsed.
Oglethorpe.—It remained for James Oglethorpe to carry out the project. Oglethorpe had seen considerable military service, and for thirty years was a member of the House of Commons, in the latter capacity advocating an aggressive policy against Spain. Possessed of broadly humanitarian sympathies, he became interested in ameliorating the conditions of imprisoned debtors. He conceived the idea of planting a barrier colony on the southern frontier, which would serve the two-fold purpose of protecting Carolina against Spanish and Indian attacks, and of offering a place of refuge for the debtor class. In 1732 he secured a charter conveying to himself and a group of interested persons the land between the Savannah and Altamaha Rivers and extending westward from their head waters to the sea.
The government.—The government was of the proprietary type, but the proprietors were not to receive any profits individually; financial reports and legislation were to be submitted to the crown for approval. The proprietorship was limited to twenty-one years, after which the province was to become a royal colony. Religious liberty was guaranteed to all but Catholics; provision was made to prevent large land holdings; slavery was prohibited, a restriction which was subsequently removed; the importation of rum was forbidden, as was trade with the Indians without a license.
Savannah.—In the autumn of 1732 about one hundred men, women, and children were sent to America, arriving at Charleston in January, 1733. A treaty was made with the Creeks who surrendered most of their coast lands and the town of Savannah was immediately laid out. The colony was soon strengthened by German and Scotch immigration. In 1737 a fort was established at Augusta and a town grew up which soon developed an important trade with the Cherokees.
Measures of defence.—The Scotch were settled near the mouth of the Altamaha. In 1736 Ft. Frederica was established on St. Simon's Island at the mouth of the river, and military posts were built between the Altamaha and the St. John's Rivers. This encroachment aroused the ire of the Spanish government, which demanded Oglethorpe's recall, but instead, while in Europe, he was given permission to raise a regiment of troops for the protection of Georgia, and upon his return he visited the Creeks, with whom he renewed the former alliance.
Next: The German And Swiss Migration
Previous: Reorganization Of The Carolinas