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Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763
Establishing the Georgia Colony, 1732-1750
The Georgia Trustees Respond to the Freeholders' Representation, 1738

In the following document, the Trustees of the Georgia colony responded to the "representation" of Georgia settlers the previous December. According to the document, how do the Trustees answer the settlers' grievances? Specifically, what is their posture toward individuals selling their lands? What is their position with respect to Negro labor?

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To the Magistrates of the Town of Savannah, in the Province of Georgia.

THE Trustess for establishing the Colony of Georgia in America, have received by the Hands of Mr. Benjamin Ball of London, Merchant, an attested Copy of a Representation, signed by You the Magistrates, and many of the Inhabitants of Savannah, on the 9th of December last, for altering the Tenure of the Lands, and introducing Negroes into the Province, transmitted from thence by Mr. Robert Williams.

The Trustees are not surprized to find unwary People drawn in by crafty Men, to join in a Design of extorting by Clamour from the Trustees an Alteration in the Fundamental Laws, framed for the Preservation of the People, from those very Designs.

But the Trustees cannot but express their Astonishment, that You the Magistrates, appointed by them to be Guardians of the People, by putting those Laws in Execution, should so far forget your Duty, as to put Yourselves at the Head of this Attempt.

However they direct You to give the Complainants this Answer from the Trustees, That they should deem themselves very unfit for the Trust reposed in them by His Majesty on their Behalf, if they could be prevailed upon, by such an irrational Attempt, to give up a Constitution, framed with the greatest Caution for the Preservation of Liberty and Property; and of which the Laws against the Use of Slaves, and for the Entail of Lands, are the surest Foundations.

And the Trustees are the more confirmed in their opinion of the Unreasonableness of this Demand, that they have received Petitions from the Darien, and other Parts of the Province, representing the Inconvenience and Danger, which must arise to the good People of the Province from the Introduction of Negroes. And as the Trustees themselves are fully convinced, that besides the Hazard attending that Introduction, it would destroy all Industry among the white Inhabitants; and that by giving them a Power to alien their Lands [that is, to sell the land], the Colony would soon be too like its Neighbours, void of white Inhabitants, filled with Blacks, and reduced to be the precarious Property of a Few, equally exposed to Domestick Treachery, and Foreign Invasion; and therefore the Trustees cannot be supposed to be in any Disposition of granting this Request; and if they have not before this signified their Dislike of it, this Delay is to be imputed to no other Motives, but the Hopes they had conceived, that Time and Experience would bring the Complainants to a better Mind: And the Trustees readily join Issue with them in their Appeal to Posterity, who shall judge between them, who were their best Friends; Those, who endeavoured to preserve for them a Property in their Lands, by tying up the Hands of their unthrifty Progenitors; or They, who wanted a Power to mortgage or alien them: Who were the best Friends to the Colony, Those who with great Labour and Cost had endeavoured to form a Colony of His Majesty's Subjects, and persecuted Protestants from other Parts of Europe, had placed them on a fruitful Soil, and strove to secure them in their Possessions, by those Arts which naturally tend to keep the Colony full of useful and industrious People, capable both to cultivate and defend it; or Those, who, to gratify the greedy and ambitious Views of a few Negroe Merchants, would put it into their Power to become sole Owners of the Province, by introducing their baneful Commodity; which, it is well known by sad Experience, has brought our Neighbour Colonies to the Brink of Ruin, by driving out their white Inhabitants, who were their Glory and Strength, to make room for Black, who are now become the Terror of their unadvised Masters.

Signed by Order of the Trustees,
this 20th Day of June, 1739.
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