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Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763
Establishing the Georgia Colony, 1732-1750
The Georgia Trustees Justify Their Policies, 1742

Two of the grievances voiced by Georgia settlers in 1741 concerned the prohibitions on selling one's own property and on importing and using Negro labor. In 1742, the Georgia Trustees published a pamphlet titled An Account Shewing the Progress in the Colony of Georgia. In the excerpts from that pamphlet below, how do the Trustees justify their land policy? How do they justify the prohibition against Negro laborers? What general attitude toward the Georgia colonists do the Trustees exhibit?

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. . . In Pursuance of his Majesty's Charter, and in order to fulfil the good Intents and Purposes therein expressed, it was thought necessary for the Trustees to send over such poor People and foreign Protestants as were willing to Live in Georgia, not only to cultivate the Lands, but at the same Time to strengthen his Majesty's Colonies. For which purpose they considered each Inhabitant both as a Planter and a Soldier; and they were therefore to be Provided with Arms for their Defence, as well as Tools for their Cultivation, and to be Taught the Exercise of both, and Towns were to be laid out for their Settlements, and Lands allotted to each of them for their Maintenance as near to those Towns as conveniently could be, that they might never have Occasion to be too far distant from their Towns, which were to be regarded as their Garrisons.

And as the Military Strength of the Province was particulaly to be taken care of, it seemed necessary to Establish such Tenures of Lands as might most effectually preserve the Number of Planters, or Soldiers, equal to the Number of Lots of Lands, and therefore each Lot of Land was to be considered as a Military Fief, and to contain so much in Quantity as would Support such Planter and his Family; and Fifty Acres were judged sufficient and not too much for that Purpose, and Provision was made to prevent an Accumulation of several Lots into one Hand, lest the Garrison should be lessened, and likewise to prevent a Division of those Lots into smaller Parcels, lest that which was no more than Sufficient for one Planter, when entire, should if divided amongst several, be too scanty for their Subsistence.

And in the Infancy of the Colony, the Lands were Granted in Tail Male, preferable to any other Tenure, as the most likely to answer these Purposes; for if the Grants were to be made in Tail General, it was thought that the Strength of each Township would soon be diminished, in as much as every Female Heir in Tail, who was unmarried, would have been intitled to one Lot, and consequently have taken frown the Garrison the Portion of one Soldier; and by Intermarriages several Lots might have been united into one; and if such Tenant in Tail General had had several Daughters, his Lot must have been Divided equally amongst them all as Co-partners.

Nor were these the only inconveniencies which were thought likely to arise from Estates in Tail General: For Women being equally incapable to Act as Soldiers or serve on Juries, these Duties, and many others, such as Watchings and Wardings, &c. would return so much oftener to each Man, in proportion as the Number of the Men in the Township was lessened, and by that means become very burthensome to the Remaining Male Lot holders, and in case of any Attack from the Indians, French or Spaniards, the Township would be less able to make a Defence.

And as it was not thought proper to Grant Estates in Tail General, it appeared to be more inconvenient to Grant them in Fee Simple; which Estate would have been attended with all the Objections before mentioned incident to Estates in Tail General, and to several other besides; for the Right of Alienation being inseparable from an Estate in Fee, the Grantee might have Sold, Mortgaged, or Aliened his Lands to whomever he thought fit, which was a Power not to be intrusted with the People sent over, for the following Reasons:

  • 1. From Considering their Condition.
  • 2. From Considering the Purposes they were sent for.
  • 3. From Considering the Persons to whom Lands might be Alienated. And,
  • 4. From Considering that it might Occasion a Monopoly of Land contrary to the Intent of the Charter.

As to the First, The Persons sent over were poor indigent People, who had for the most part so indiscreetly managed what they had been Masters of here, that it did not seem safe to trust so absolute a Property in their Hands, at least in the Infancy of the Colony, and before they had by a careful and industrious Behaviour given some Reason to believe they would prove better Managers for the future.

As to the Second, They were sent over to inhabit, cultivate, and secure, by a personal Residence, the Lands Granted to them within the Province, and they voluntarily engaged so to do; And in expectation that they would perform those Engagements, they were Maintained at the Expence of the Publick during their Voyage, and their Passage was paid for them, and they were provided with Tools, Arms, Seeds, and other Necessaries, and Supported from the Publick Store, many of them at least for four Years together from their first Landing, in which respect the Publick may be said to have Purchased those People for a valuable Consideration, their Personal Residence, and all the Industry and Labour they could bestow in the Cultivation of this Province, and to have given them even Pay for the Hazard they might run in the Defence of it.

As to the Third, It was thought unsafe to Grant them such an Estate as might be the Means of introducing such sort of People as might Defeat what the Trustees had always at Heart, viz. The Preservation of the Protestant Religion in that Province, which was necessary to be taken Care of, both on a Political and Religious Account, the French lying to the West and the Spaniards, to the South of the Preface of Georgia.

As to the Fourth, A Monopoly of several Lots into one Hand would necessarily have been the consequence of a Free Liberty of Buying and Selling Lands within the Province, which would have been directly contrary to the Intent of the Charter, whereby the Grant of Lands to any one Person is limited not to exceed five hundred Acres. . . .

The Tenures being thus settled, it was thought necessary to require the Inhabitants to cultivate their Lands within a limited Time, and in order to raise Raw silk, which was intended to be one of the Produces there, a certain proportion of white Mulberry-Trees were to be Planted, and in their respective Grants Ten Years were allowed for the Cultivation, and one hundred white Mulbery-Trees were to be planted on every ten Acres of Land when Cleared; with a Power for the Trustees to re-enter on the Parts that should remain uncultivated.

But as the People were not able to Cultivate their Lands within the Time required by their Grants, by reason of the Alarms from the Spaniards, the Droughts in that part of America, and other unforeseen Accidents, the Trustees resolved to release all forfeitures on that Account, and to require the Cultivation of no more than five Acres of the said fifty Acres within the Remainder of the said Term of Ten Years. . . .

The Trustees were induced to prohibit the use of Negroes within Georgia, the Intention of his Majesty's Charter being to provide for poor People incapable of subsisting themselves at Home, and to settle a Frontier to South Carolina, which was much exposed by the small number of it's White Inhabitants. It was imposible that the Poor who should be sent from hence, and the Foreign Prosecuted Protestants, who must go in a manner Naked into the Colony, could be able to purchase or subsist them if they had them, and it would be a Charge too great for the Trustees to undertake; and they would be thereby disabled from sending White People. The first Cost of a Negro is about Thirty Pounds, and this Thirty Pounds would pay the Passage over, provide Tools and other Necessaries, and defray the Charge of subsistence of a White Man for a Year, in which time it might be hoped that the Planter's own Labour would grant him some subsistence, Consequently the Purchase Money of every Negro (abstracting the Expence of subsisting him as well as his Master) by being applied that way, would prevent the sending over a White Man who would be a Security to the Province, whereas the Negro would render that Security Precarious.

It was thought the White Man, by having a Nero Slave, would be less disposed to Labour himself; and that his whole Time must be employed in keeping the Negro to Work, and in watching against any Danger he or his Family might apprehend from the Slave, and that the Planter's Wife and Children would by the Death or even the Absence of the Planter, be at the Mercy of the Negro.

It was also apprehended, that the Spaniards at St. Augustine would be continually enticing away the Negroes, or encouraging them to Insurrections. That the first might easily be accomplished since a single Negro would run away thither without Companions, and would only have a River or two to swim over, and this Opinion has been confirmed and justified by the practices of the Spaniards even in Times of profound Peace amongst the Negroes in South Carolina, where though at a greater Distance from St. Augustine, some have fled in Periaguas and little Boats to the Spaniards, and been Protected, and others in large Bodies have been incited to Insurrections, to the great Terror and even endangering the Loss of that Province, which though it has been established above seventy Years, has scarce White People enough to secure her own Slaves.

It was also considered that the Produces designed to be raised in the Colony, would not require such Labour as to make Negroes necessary for Carrying them on; for the Province of Carolina produces chiefly Rice, which is a Work of Hardship proper for Negroes, whereas the Silk and other Produces which the Trustees proposed to have the People employed on in Georgia, were such as Women and Children might be of as much use in as Negroes.

It was likewise apprehended, that if the Persons who should go over to Georgia at their own Expence, should be permitted the use of Negroes, it would dispirit and ruin the Poor Planters who could not get them, and who by their Numbers were designed to be the strength of the Province; it would make them Clamorous to have Negroes given them, and on the Refusal would drive them from the Province, or at least make them negligent of their Plantations, where they would be unwilling, nay would certainly disdain, to work like Negroes; and would rather let themselves out to wealthy Planters as Overseers of their Negroes.

It was further thought, that upon the Admission of Negroes, the wealthy Planters would, as in all other Colonies, be more induced to absent themselves and live in other Places, leaving the Care of their Plantations and Negroes to Overseers.

It was likewise thought, that the Poor Planter sent on Charity, from his desire to have Negroes, as well as the Planter who should settle at his own Expence, would (if he had leave to alienate) Mortgage his Land to the Negro Merchant for them, or at least become a Debtor for the Purchase of such Negroes; and under these Weights and Discouragements would be induced to sell his Slaves again upon any necessity, and would leave the Province and his Lot to the Negro Merchant: In Consequence of which all the small Properties would be swallowed up, as they have been in other Places, by the more wealthy Planters.

In was likewise Considered, that the admitting of Negroes in Georgia would naturally facilitate the Desertion of the Corolina Negroes through the Province of Georgia, and Consequently this Colony instead of proving a Frontier and adding strength to the Province of South Carolina, would be a Means of drawing off the Slaves of Carolina, and adding thereby a strength to Augustine.

From these several Considerations, as the Produces to be raised in the Colony did not make Negro Slaves necessary, as the Introduction of them so near to a Garrison of the Spaniards would weaken rather than strengthen the Barrier, and as they would introduce with them a greater Propensity to Idleness among the Poor Planters, and too great an Inequality among the People, it was thought proper to make the Prohibition of them a Fundamental of the Constitution.
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