What made Georgia different from the 12 other colonies and why did the ideas it was founded upon fail?
Georgia was the last of the thirteen colonies to be founded by James Edward Oglethorpe an ex English soldier. The first 114 settlers arrived in 1733; a year after King George III issued a charter for the settlement. James had different ideas for the structure of Georgia, than had been put in place in the other colonies. Unlike the other colonies that were inhabited by wealth English men who could afford the journey across the Atlantic, James wanted it to be land for the poor and for inmates from debtors’ prisons to settle, he said it was new land to be “inhabited by the worthy poor.” (Web ref 1) This however was not the case it was found that none of the first 114 settlers were people who had been released from debtors’ prison.
The motto for the colony became “Not for ourselves but for others.”(Web ref 2) James wanted to create a community of hard working, honest people, where nobody owned huge amounts of land instead things would be shared out. One of the key reasons the King of England was so willing for the colony to succeed was because it created a buffer zone between Spanish Florida and the other British colonies. James Edward made it illegal to drink alcohol and banned any form of slavery. He didn’t like the ideas that came out of slavery, people owning large amounts of land and having huge wealth but not having worked for any of it. James Edward decided that the best way for the colony to be successful would be for it to create an economy that did not require slaves; this was a risky choice as all the other colonies had economies built on slavery. His chosen economy was the silk trade and other items that would normally be imported. Another reason why he didn’t want there to be a slave trade and the key reason for the British government supporting him in this was the fear that the Spanish could offer them freedom and a way out of slavery, this could lead to an uprising.
These ideas quickly became unpopular among the colonists, they could see other colonies with slaves and a thriving economy and they wanted the same things. Carolina played a big part in the fight for slaves to be made legal, it was in their best interest for their closest colony’s economy to grow and they knew for this to happen slaves would be needed. The colony went as far appealing to London to false Georgia to make slavery legal; however Georgia gave good enough reasoning that it would only encourage the Spanish to cause an uprising. It was not just surrounding colonies that were growing unhappy though; some citizens of Georgia also felt the colony was failing “The crux of their argument was that the Trustees’ economic design for Georgia was simply impractical.” (Web ref 3) It was not until 1750 when a great deal of James Edwards ideas were overthrown and slavery became legal. The British government decided that after the war in 1742 between the Spanish and Georgia the colony was safe and the threat of slaves uprising was gone. Along with this the economy in Georgia was struggling and relied heavily on the British and it was decided that slaves were needed to help the economy along. The number of slaves went from 100 in 1751 to 18000 by 1775. The land was ideal for rice to grow, most slaves from Africa were put to work in this industry and it soon became known for its rice production. It was not long before the style of slavery and the appalling conditions from Carolina were rolled out in Georgia.
Web Ref 1: http://www.netstate.com/states/intro/ga_intro.htm (6th October 2010)
Web Ref 2: http://www.familytree.com/heritage/georgia-genealogy/ (6th October 2010)