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Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763
Establishing the Georgia Colony, 1732-1750
Representation of Freeholders in Georgia to the Trustees, 1738

The following excerpts were taken from a petition (then called a Representation) Georgia settlers sent to the Trustees of the Colony in late 1738. How do the petitioners compare their situation with that of South Carolina? What solutions do the settlers propose to improve the situation in Georgia?

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WE whose Names are under-written, being all Settlers, Free-holders and Inhabitants in the Province of Georgia, and being sensible of the great Pains and Care exerted by You in Endeavouring to settle this Colony, since it has been under Your Protection and Management; Do unanimously join to lay before You, with the utmost Regret, the following Particulars: But in the first Place, we must beg Leave to observe, that it has afforded us a great deal of Concern and Uneasiness, that former Representations made to You of the same Nature, have not been thought worthy of due Consideration, nor even of an Answer. We have most of us settled in this Colony in Pursuance of the Description and Recommendation given of it by You in Britain; and from the Experience of residing here several Years, do find that it is impossible that the Measures hitherto laid down and pursued for making it a Colony can succeed. None of all those who have planted their Land have been able to raise Sufficient Produce to maintain their Families in Bread kind only, even tho' as much Application and Industry have been exerted to bring it about . . . and those who continue are daily exhausting more and more of their Money, and some daily increasing their Debt, without a Possibility of being 'reimbursed, according to the present Constitution.

This being now the general State of the Colony, it must be obvious that People cannot subsist by their Land, according to the present Establishment; and this being a Truth resulting from Tryal, Practice and Experience, cannot be contradicted by any theorical Scheme or Reasoning. The Land then, according to the present Constitution, not being capable to maintain the Settlers here, they must unavoidably have recourse to and depend upon Trade: But to our woful Experience likewise, the same Causes that prevented the first, obstruct the latter; for tho' the Situation of this Place is exceeding well adapted for Trade, and if it was encouraged, might be much more improved by the Inhabitants; yet the Difficulties and Restrictions, which we hitherto have and at present do labour under, debar us of that Advantage: Timber is the only Thing we have here which we might export, and notwithstanding we are obliged to fall it in Planting our Land; yet we cannot manufacture it for a Foreign Market but at double the Expence of other Colonies; as for Instance, the River of May, which is but twenty Miles from us, with the Allowance of Negroes, load Vessels with that Commodity at one Half of the Price that we can do; and what should induce Persons to bring Ships here, when they can be loaded with one Half of the Expence so near us; therefore the Timber on the Land is only a continual Charge to the Possessors of it, tho' of very great Advantage in all the Northern Colonies, where Negroes are allowed, and consequently Labour cheap. We do not in the least doubt but that in Time Silk and Wine may be produced here, especially the former; but since the Cultivation of Land with white Servants only, cannot raise Provisions for our Families as before mentioned, therefore it is likewise impossible to carry on these Manufactures according to the present Constitution. It is very well known, that Carolina can raise every thing that this Colony can; and they having their Labour so much cheaper will always ruin our Market, unless we are in some Measure on a Footing with them; and as in both, the Land is worn out in four or five Years, and then fit for Nothing but Pasture; we must be always at a great deal more Expence than they in Clearing new Land for Planting.

The Importation of the Necessaries of Life come to us at the most extravagant Rate; Merchants in general, especially of England, not being willing to supply the Settlers here with Goods upon Commission, because no Person here can make them any Security of their Lands or Improvements, as is very often practis'd in other Places to promote Trade, when some of the Employers Money is laid out in necessary Buildings and Improvements fitting for the Trade intended, without which it cannot be carried on: The Benefit of Importation therefore is all to transient Persons, who do not lay out any Money amongst us; but on the Contrary, carry every Penny out of the Place; and the chief Reason for their enhancing the Price, is because they cannot get any Goods here either on Freight or Purchase for another Market: If the Advantage accruing from Importation centered in the Inhabitants, the Profit thereof would naturally circulate amongst us, and be laid out in Improvements in the Colony.

Your Honours, we imagine, are not insensible of the Numbers that have left this Province, not being able to support 'themselves and Families any longer; and those still remaining, who had Money of their own and Credit with their Friends, have laid out most of the former in Improvements, and lost the latter for doing it on such precarious Titles. And upon Account of the present Establishment, not above two or three Persons, except those brought on Charity and Servants sent by You, have come here for the Space of two Years past, either to settle Land or encourage Trade, neither do we hear of any such likely to come until we are on better Terms. It is true, His Majesty has been graciously pleased to grant a Regiment for the Defence of this Province and our neighbouring Colony, which indeed will very much assist us in defending ourselves against all Enemies; but otherwise does not in the least contribute to our Support; for all that Part of their Pay which is expended here, is laid out with transient People, and our Neighbours in Carolina, who are capable to supply them with Provisions and other Necessaries at a moderate Price, which we as before observed, are not at all capable to do upon the present Establishment. This then being our present Condition, it is obvious what the Consequences must be.

But we for our Parts have intirely relied on and confided in Your good Intentions, believing You would redress any Grievances that should appear; and now by our long Experience, from Industry and continual Application to Improvement of Land here, do find it impossible to pursue it, or even to subsist ourselves any longer, according to the present Nature of the Constitution; and likewise believing You will agree to those Measures that are found from Experience capable to make this Colony succeed, and to promote which we have consumed our Money, Time and Labour; we do, from a sincere Regard to its Welfare, and in Duty both to You and ourselves, beg Leave to lay before Your immediate Consideration, the Two following chief Causes of these our present Misfortunes and this deplorable State of the Colony, and which, we are certain, if granted, would be an infallible Remedy for both.

  • 1st, The Want of a free Title or Fee-simple, to our Lands; which if granted, would both induce great Numbers of new Settlers to come amongst us, and likewise encourage those who remain here chearfully to proceed in making further Improvements, as well to retrieve their sunk Fortunes as to make Provisions for their Posterity.
  • 2d, The Want of the Use of Negroes, with proper Limitations; which if granted, would both occasion great Numbers of white People to come here, and also render us capable to subsist ourselves, by raising Provisions upon our Lands, until we could make some Produce fit for Export, in some Measure to Ballance our Importation. We are very sensible of the Inconveniencies and Mischiefs that have already, and do daily arise from an 'unlimited Use of Negroes; but we are as sensible, that these may be prevented by a due Limitation, such as so many to each white Man, or so many to such a Quantity of Land, or in any other Manner which Your Honours shall think most proper.

By granting us, Gentlemen, these Two Particulars, and such other Privilages as His Majesty's most dutiful Subjects in America enjoy, You will not only prevent our impending Ruin, but, we are fully satisfied, also will soon make this the most flourishing Colony possess'd by His Majesty in America, and Your Memories will be perpetuated to all future Ages, our latest Posterity sounding Your Praises, as their first Founders, Patrons 'nd Guardians; but if, by denying us these Privileges, we ourselves and Families are not only ruin'd, but even our Posterity likewise; You will always be mentioned as the Cause and Authors of all their Misfortunes and Calamities; which we hope will never happen.
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