Library of Congress


The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Presentations and Activities > Timeline
Timeline Home Page
Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763
Establishing the Georgia Colony, 1732-1750
A Narrative of Georgia: Settlers' Grievances, 1741

The following excerpts are from the pamphlet, A True and Historical Narrative of the Colony of Georgia. According to the excerpts, what are the settlers' primary grievances with the trustees of the Georgia colony generally and with James Oglethorpe specifically? What are the authors' attitudes toward Oglethorpe's relations with local Indians and the prohibition against importing and using Negro laborers in Georgia? What emphasis did the authors place on the denial of their civil liberties?

View the original document from The Capital and the Bay. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.

NOTHING is more difficult for Authors, than to divest themselves of Byass and Partiality, especially when they themselves are Parties or Sufferers in the Affair treated of.

IT is possible, this may be suppos'd the Case with us, the Publishers of this Narrative; it may be imagined, that the Hardships, Losses and Disappointments, we have met with in the Colony of Georgia, will naturally sour our Humours, and engage us to represent every Thing in the worst Light. . . .

THE gracious Purposes and ample Privileges contain'd in the foregoing CHARTER, are so obvious to every Reader, that we need only say, they were suitable to a most generous and humane British Monarch; and had the Settlement of the Colony of Georgia been carried on conformable thereto, and no other Restrictions or Reservations made, than what are therein mentioned; then would the Colony at this Time have been in a flourishing Condition, answerable to all those glorious Ends that were proposed and expected from it: But on the Contrary, Laws and Restrictions being made, such as were never heard of in any British Settlement, the Colony is brought to the present melancholy Situation. . . .

INHABITANTS of all sorts, Roman Catholicks only excepted, from all Parts of the World, were invited to possess this promised Land; and large Sums of Money from the Parliament, as well as Contributions from private and publick Charity, were collected; the County was laid out as an Earthly Paradise; the Soil far surpassing that of England; the Air healthy, always serene, pleasant and temperate, never subject to excessive Heat or Cold, nor to sudden Changes.

IT was particularly set forth, and with a Shew of Reason enough, that this proposed Settlement could not fail of succeeding, when the Nation was so bountiful; the King so gracious; the Trustees so disinterested and honourable, who had, for the Benefit of Mankind, given up that Ease and Indolence to which they were entitled by their Fortunes and the too prevalent Custom of their Native Country; and withal, being able, by seeing the Mistakes and Failures of other Colonies, both to avoid and rectify them; and lastly, the universal Report of Mr. Oglethorpe's matchless Humanity and Generosity, who was to Conduct the first Embarkation, and who was, in all Appearance, to undergo the greatest Hardships, without any other View than to succour the Distress'd; and despising Interest or Riches, was to venture his Life, his All, in establishing the intended Settlement. Glorious Presages of the future Happiness of that Colony! Irresistable Temptations to those, whose Genius or Circumstances led them to leave their Native Country!

No Wonder then, that great Numbers of poor Subjects, who lay under a Cloud of Misfortunes, embraced the Opportunity of once more tasting Liberty and Happiness. . . . But how much they were all disappointed, the Sequel will shew. . . . The First Thing that was done, was the Circumscribing the Rights and Titles given by his Majesty, and making many other various Restrictions, Services and Conditions, impossible for any human Person to perform; a few of which we shall here enumerate: In the first Place, there was an excessive Quit-Rent laid upon the Land, being a great Deal more than his Majesty's Subjects in the other British Colonies pay, viz. Twenty Shillings Sterling for every Hundred Acres, to be paid yearly; and if it, or any Part thereof, should be behind and unpaid by the Space of six Calender Months next after any Day of Payment on which the same became due, then the Land was forfeited and return'd to the Trustees; as it likewise did upon Failure in any of the following Conditions, viz. One Thousand Mulberry Trees always to be growing on every Hundred Acres; No Partnership or Company to be enter'd into for making Pot-Ash; Not to assign or transfer the Land, or any Part or Parcel thereof, or any Estate or Interest in the same, for any Term of Years; Not to hire, keep, lodge, board or employ, within the Limits of the Province, any Black or Negro; and if the Person holding Land should die without Issue Male, or his Heirs at any Time should die without Issue Male, in that Case likewise, the whole Land was forfeited and reverted to the Trustees; and if any Part or Parcel of any of the Five Hundred Acre Tracts, should remain not cultivated, clear'd, planted and improv'd after the Space of Eighteen Years, such Part to return to the Trustees. These were the chief Restrictions in all the Grants of Lands, which appear'd very hard even to Strangers, who had not yet felt them, and who were ignorant of the Climate and Nature of the Place; but when any one complained of the Hardships of them, to paliate the Matter, it was given out, that Negroes were entirely useless and unprofitable, Wine, Silk, Olives, Gardens and Manufactures for Women and Children, were the intended Improvements of the Colony; that the Restriction of the Rights of Lands, were only temporary, to prevent the Bartering or Selling them by the unthinking People, at an Undervalue; and concerning the Want of Male Issue, it was asserted, that the Trustees being duly petitioned, would grant Continuation of the Land to the eldest Daughter, if any, &c. upon their good Behaviour: That the Laws of England, and the Administration of Justice, in the most impartial Manner, and most adapted to the Nature of a Free British Government, should be ever secur'd to the Inhabitants.

THE First of February, 1732--3, Mr. Oglethorpe arrived at Georgia with the first Embarkation, consisting of Forty Families, making upwards of One Hundred Persons, all brought over and supported at the Publick Charge. The First Thing he did after he arrived in Georgia, was to make a kind of solemn Treaty with a Parcel of fugitive Indians, who had been formerly banished their own Nation for some Crimes and Misdemeanours they had committed, and who had, some Months before this, got Liberty from the Governor of South-Carolina, to settle there. Some of these he afterwards carried Home with him under the Title of Kings, &c. and all of them have been ever since maintain'd at the Publick Charge, at vast Expence, when many poor Christians were starving in the Colony for Want of Bread; and we may safely affirm, (and appeal to the Store-Books for the Truth of it) that a larger Sum of Money has been expended for the Support of those useless Vagrants, than ever was laid out for the Encouragement of Silk, Wine, or any other Manufacture in the Colony.

SECONDLY, He prohibited the Importation of Rum, under Pretence, that it was destructive to the Constitution, and an Incentive to Debauchery and Idleness: However specious these Pretences might seem, a little Experience soon convinced us, that this Restriction was directly opposite to the Well-being of the Colony: For in the first Place, we were cut off from the most immediate and probable Way of exporting our Timber (the only poor Propect of Export that we could ever flatter ourselves with) to the Sugar Islands, Rum being the principal Return they make: In the second Place, the Experience of all the Inhabitants of America, will prove the Necessity of Qualifying Water with some Spirit, (and it is very certain, that no Province in America yields Water that such a Qualification is more necessary to than Carolina and Georgia) and the Usefulness of this Experiment has been sufficiently evident to all the Inhabitants of Georgia who could procure it, and use it with Moderation: A third Reason which made this Restriction very hurtful to the Colony, was, That tho' the Laws were in force against it, (which put it in the Power of Magistrates to lay Hardships upon every Person who might be otherwise under their Resentment) yet great Quantities were imported, only with this Difference, that in Place of Barter or Exchange, the Ready Money was drain'd from the Inhabitants: And likewise, as it is the Nature of Mankind in general, and of the common Sort in particular, more eagerly to desire, and more immoderately to use, those Things which are most restrained from them; such was the Case with respect to Rum in Georgia.

THE THIRD Thing he did, was regularly to set out to each Free-holder in Savannah, Lots of Fifty Acres, in three distinct Divisions, viz. The Eighth Part of One Acre for a House and Garden in the Town; Four Acres and seven-eighths, at a small Distance from Town; and Forty five Acres at a considerable Remove from thence. No regard was had to the Quality of the Ground in the Divisions, so that some were altogether Pine Barren, and some Swamp and Morass, far surpassing the Strength and Ability of the Planter: And indeed, what could be done at any Rate, with such small Parcels of Land separate from one another: These Lots were likewise shaped in long pointed Triangles, which considerably increas'd the Extent of Inclosure, and rendered great Part of each Lot entirely useless. But these and many other Hardships were scarcely felt by the few People that came there, so long as Mr. Oglethorpe staid, which was about Fifteen Months: They work'd hard indeed, in Building some Houses in Town; but then they labour'd in common, and were likewise assisted by Negroes from Carolina, who did the heaviest Work: But at Mr. Oglethorpe's going to England, the growing Fame of the Colony was thereby greatly increased, so that as it has been before observ'd, People, in Abundance, from all Parts of the World, flock'd to Georgia. Then they began to consider, and endeavour, every one according to his Genius or Abilities, how they might best subsist themselves. Some, with great Labour and Expence, essayed the Making of Tarr: This, as 'tis well known to the Trustees, never quitted Costs: Others tried to make planck and saw Boards; which, by the great Price they were obliged to sell them at, by Reason of the great Expence of white Servants, was the chief Means of ruining those who thought to procure a Living by their Buildings in Town; for Boards of all kinds, could always be bought in Carolina, for half the Price that they were able to sell them at; but few were capable to Commission them from thence, and those who were so, were prevented from doing it, upon Pretence of discouraging the Labour of white People in Georgia. Those who had Numbers of Servants and Tracts of Land in the County, went upon the Planting of Corn, Pease, Potatoes, &c. and the Charge of these who succeeded the best, so far exceeded the Value of the Produce, that it would have saved three fourths to have bought all from the Carolina Market. The Falling of Timber was a Task very unequal to the Strength and Constitution of white Servants; and the Hoeing the Ground, they being exposed to the sultry Heat of the Sun, insupportable; and it is well known, that this Labour is one of the hardest upon the Negroes, even tho' their Constitutions are much stronger than white People, and the Heat no Way disagreeable nor hurtful to them; but in us it created inflamatory Fevers of various kinds, both continued and intermittent; wasting and tormenting Fluxes, most excruciating Cholicks, and Dry-Belly-Achs; Tremors, Vertigoes, Palsies, and a long Train of painful and lingring, nervous Distempers; which brought on to many a Cessation both from Work and Life; especially as Water without any Qualification was the chief Drink, and Salt Meat the only Provisions that could be had or afforded: And so general were these Disorders, that during the hot Season, which lasts from March to October, hardly one Half of the Servants and working People, were ever able to do their Masters or themselves the least Service; and the Yearly Sickness of each Servant, generally speaking, cost his Master as much as would have maintained a Negro for four Years. These Things were represented to the Trustees in the Summer 1735, in a Petition for the Use of Negroes, signed by about Seventeen of the better Sort of People in Savannah: In this Petition there was also set forth the great Disproportion betwixt the Maintenance and Cloathing of white Servants and Negroes. This Petition was carried to England and presented to the Trustees, by Mr. Hugh Stirling, an experienced Planter in the Colony; but no Regard was had to it, or to what he could say, and great Resentment was even shewn to Mr. Thompson, the Master of the Vessel in which it went.

WHILST we labour'd under those Difficulties in supporting ourselves, our Civil Liberties received a more terrible Shock: For, instead of such a free Government as we had Reason to expect, and of being judged by the Laws of our Mother Country, a Dictator, (under the Title of Bailiff and Store-keeper, was appointed and left by Mr. Oglethorpe, at his Departure, which was in April, 1734) whose Will and Pleasure were the only Laws in Georgia . . . As his Power encreas'd, so did his Pride, Haughtiness, and Cruelty . . .
top of page

View the original document from The Capital and the Bay. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.