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The following are the most important: — Reasons for establishing the Colony
of Georgia, by Benjamin Martyn, London, 1732; Essay on Plantations, and A
New and Accurate Account of the Provinces of South Carolina and Georgia,
both ascribed to Oglethorpe, and published in London in 1732; A Brief Account
of the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia under General James Oglethorpe,
1732; The State of the Province of Georgia, 1742; An Account showing the
Progress of the Colony of Georgia, published by order of the Trustees, 1741.
The three last named are all reprinted in Ford's Tracts, vol. i. An Impartial
Inquiry into the State and Utility of the Colony of Georgia, 1741; Brief Account
of Causes which have retarded the Progress of Georgia, 1743. The case of
Oglethorpe's opponents is stated with some cleverness, but much acrimony,
shallow sarcasm and obvious misrepresentation in a pamphlet entitled A True
and Historical Narrative of the Colony of Georgia, 1741. Two authorities of
considerable value are: A Voyage to Georgia^ by Francis Moore, 1744. Moore
was for some time store-keeper to the colony. History of Georgia, published in
Dr. Harris's Collection of Travels, vol. ii. pp. 323-47. London, 1764. The
journals of John and Charles Wesley are valuable authorities for those events
in which they took part. Wright's Life of Oglethorpe, 1867, and Jones's History
of Georgia, 2 vols., 1883, are careful and laborious works, based on very full
research. Mr. Wright's admiration for Oglethorpe makes him at times somewhat


and misery which seems the inseparable accompaniment of
rapid material prosperity, a refuge for the so-called "breakages
of society." Furthermore the battles of the Old World were
to be fought in the New. Our colonies were to balance and
control the Transatlantic empire of Spain. We see into what
strange and unlikely channels that stream of thought had run
when we find a little band of persecuted Brownists pleading
to be allowed to settle in Canada, that they may there "annoy
the bloody and persecuting Spaniard.'" Lastly, the colonist was
to be a missionary. That Gospel light which had succeeded ta
centuries of Romish darkness was to be spread among the yet
heathen natives of an unexplored continent. Such were the
aspirations which have come down to us in countless sermons
and pamphlets.

The actual course of English colonization dealt with lower
motives and contented itself with more commonplace successes,
between* ^^^ aims, its methods, and its results had nothing in
the ideal common with those imagined by Gilbert and his fel-
actuai. lows. Spain ceased to be a source of danger; the

meager resources of the English colonies gave them no scope
for a policy of extension or aggression southward. The crusad-
ing dreams of the Elizabethan age were exchanged for the
dreary realities of the Pequod war, of the struggle with Philip,
of inroads, sieges, and skirmishes on the Canadian frontier,
often fruitless, never adequate in their results.

Nor was the material gain less widely at variance with what
was expected. Every feature of colonization presented to the
Elizabethan age had in its foreground visions of El Dorado.
The experience of thirty years of actual colonization served
wholly to dispel them. The men who sailed with Winthrop had
learnt to look on such hopes as no better than the dreams of
the alchemist. Nor was that all. With those visionary hopes
had been joined others, seemingly more sober, yet in real truth
almost equally doomed to disappointment. The early experience
of Virginia showed that the New World with all its resources
and advantages could never become on any large scale a refuge
for the thriftless and unprosperous. All colonial history was
the confirmation of Bacon's warning against planting with
"the scum of people and wicked condemned men." It was soon

■ The Puritan Colonies, vol. i. p. 28.


seen that those who really made the strength and backbone of
our colonies were men who at home would in all likelihood have
won for themselves by patience and enterprise a fair share of
the world's good things. Our plantations had done but slight
and indirect service in relieving those grosser forms of poverty
which are bound up with ignorance and sufEering, and are the
parents of crime.

No one with the history of New England before him can
dispute that the colonists had done a definite religious work
of reality and importance. But assuredly it was not the work
contemplated by those who first designed and directed our colo-
nial system. The Churches of New England had been con-
spicuous as the homes of individual piety, and, though with lim-
itations and drawbacks, as centers of corporate spiritual life.
But they had done nothing to enable Protestant Catholicism to
face Roman Catholicism as a compact and organized whole.
On the other hand they had done much to develop the opposite
tendency, to break up the Church of the Reformers into opposed
and discordant sects. Those missionary hopes which had filled
the minds of such men as Crashaw and Copland had been hope-
lessly scattered to the winds. The attitude of the settlers to the
savages had ranged from merciless hostility to half-contemptuous
kindness. Here and there we had given them some small
share of the material gains of civilization, more than balanced
by the degradation which accompanies its baser side. The pious
labors of isolated men such as Gookin and Eliot, the spirit of
justice and humanity with which Penn imbued his followers,
had done something to redeem the credit of their countrymen,
to brighten the dealings with the savages, and to lighten the
inevitable misery of the conflict between barbarism and civiliza-
tion. But the heathenism of a continent remained unbroken,
almost untouched.

For more than a century the colonies had gone on in the
varied paths which their material conditions seemed to mark out
The settle- for them, with destinies determined by outward con-
Georeia. ditions of coast line, climate, and soil, by the habits
and beliefs which the settlers brought out with them, and by
the wishes and theories of statesmen at home. The projects and
hopes which in the sixteenth century filled the minds of all
those who thought about America at all seemed dead and buried.


Suddenly a historical cycle seems to reopen. In the coloniza-
tion of Georgia the old schemes seem to revive in a narrovi^er
field and in less ambitious forms. To curb the Spaniard in
Florida, to carry a knowledge of Christian truth to the savage,
to find prosperous homes for those whom vice, thriftless folly,
and the harshness of the world, working together, had made
wretched and homeless — these were the tasks which the founder
of Georgia set before him, and in which he won some share of
success, greater assuredly than had followed the more venturous
schemes of earlier days, as much, one may fairly say, as the
inherent difficulties of the various problems permitted.

The period which lies between the Revolution and the acces-
sion of George III. is peculiarly an age of biography. Pope's
James doctrine that the proper study of mankind is man

thorpe. had been accepted, and applied not to man as a philo-

sophical abstraction, but to individual men and women. The
crude, transparent advocacy of Burnet, the better veiled though
more partial advocacy of Swift, have furnished us with pictures
of their contemporaries often, it may be, misleading, but never
lacking in life. What they did for their own generation, Her-
vey and Walpole have done more artistically for the next. Even
writings which would usually fall into more abstract forms
have not escaped the general tendency. The social and moral
speculations of Sterne and Addison, the satire of Pope, even
the spiritual teaching of Law, have left us vivid pictures of actual
men and women. Thus in studying the drama of eighteenth
century history we move among the actors as among familiar
friends. It is seldom, however, that colonial history comes in
any way into contact with this full-flowing stream of biography.
But if he had never crossed the Atlantic, if Georgia had
never come into being, Oglethorpe would still live for us in
the pages of Boswell and Walpole, and other less known social

By birth James Oglethorpe belonged to what one may call
the constitutional and moderate wing of the Jacobite party.
His father. Colonel Theophilus Oglethorpe, the head of an
old Yorkshire house, did good service at Bothwell Bridge and
against Monmouth. He played a part against the Prince of
Orange active and conspicuous enough to lead to the loss of
his commission. But he appears to have kept free from the


political intrigues of his party, and he twice sat in Parliament
during the reign of William. Two at least of his children
drifted further into Jacobitism than their father. Theophilus,
the eldest son, lived as an exile and figured in the Jacobite
peerage of St. Germains. His sister Anne earned like rank by a
connection which she did something to redeem by loyalty and
good sense, too rare among the advisers of the Old Pretender.
The support given by James Oglethorpe to the fallen cause was
of a soberer type, and after the Hanoverian accession he enlisted
himself among the followers of Windham. The outward con-
duct and policy of Oglethorpe reflected the more rational and
reputable side of Jacobitism. His temper and character, and
they are not hard to decipher, remind one of all that is best
in that creed, as disclosed to us by the writer who above all
others understood its strength and weakness. The genial cour-
tesy, the ready wit, the fearless simplicity of Oglethorpe, tem-
pered by a vein of wayward eccentricity, would have furnished
Scott with a companion figure to the Baron of Bradwardine.
It is well for such men when party obligations do not sit too
heavily on them. The men who can render efEective service
under a system of party politics are either those whose principles
are held so loosely that they can be pared down or extended
as needful, or those who hold a few great principles with such
overwhelming and tenacious conviction that the sacrifice of
all that is not essential seems as nothing. Oglethorpe assuredly
rose above the one type. He hardly attained to the other.
The condition of his party suffered him to play the part for
which he was best fitted, that of a free lance.

Of the three features of special interest which attach to the
colonization of Georgia, two do not come before us till the
His colony is fairly launched on its career. The utility

policy. of the settlement as an outpost against the Spaniard

in Florida, the part which it played as a center for the mission-
ary operations of the Wesleys, these were minor and incidental
objects quite secondary to the main purpose for which the colony
existed. The supreme interest of Georgia in its early days lies
in the fact that it was the first attempt to devote a colony sys-
tematically and exclusively to the relief of pauperism. One may
go further and say that it was the first attempt by any one
definite organized scheme of industry to cope with the problems


■of poverty. Here lies the real interest of the story, an interest
by which in colonial history it stands alone.

A figure like that of Oglethorpe seems to stand out among
the corrupt and place-hunting officials of the Hanoverian age,
like Max Piccolomini among the intriguers of Wallenstein's
camp. Yet Oglethorpe did not so much rise above his age, as
reflect a side of it which is often overlaid by its more striking
or more obvious characteristics. In many respects the eighteenth
century deserves the stigma laid upon it: in a certain sense it
may be fairly called prosaic and unimaginative. Its literature
was confined and one-sided ; its art, looked at as a whole, lacked
grace, fancy, and imagination; its religion was cautious, super-
ficial, and unspiritual. We, living in an age which has freed
itself from these failings, which, when it errs, errs in ways
widely different, see only these things, and are blind to the
better aspects of that century. It has suffered from its very
admirers and advocates. They have dwelt on the outward
features of the time, features which they would describe as
"quaint," and have been unjust to that vein of real heroism
which runs through the public life of the time. If the eight-
eenth century was the age of Addison and Horace Walpole, it
was in a far more abiding sense the age of Chatham and Wolfe
and Clive. Oglethorpe's career was on a small scale the fore-
taste of that adventurous and public-spirited heroism to which
we owe our Canadian and our Indian empires.

In one respect, however, Oglethorpe undoubtedly did rise
above his age. It is hardly an exaggeration to call him the
founder of modern philanthropy. Hitherto public men had
acquiesced in the existence of vice, ignorance, and squalor com-
bined, not as isolated plague spots, but forming what one may
call a solid phalanx in the midst of our social life. They were
prepared so far to accept Mandeville's doctrine of the utility
of private vice, as to believe that much social evil was an inevi-
table accompaniment, probably a needful condition, of material
prosperity. Men accepted as inevitable a condition of things
such as we see in Hogarth's Gin Alley, in the perversion of jus-
tice and the administrative tyranny at the expense of the poor
painted for us by Fielding.

Oglethorpe first, and for a while alone among public men,
saw and acknowledged that the community was largely responsi-


ble for the suffering of its poorer members, that to remedy
and prevent such suffering was a task which needed, if not the
interference of government, at least some systematic and organ-
ized effort.

It is worth noting that Oglethorpe's labors in this matter
moved on lines somewhat different from those who in later
days have followed in his footsteps. It was not the condition
of the wage-earning classes that chiefly excited his pity. Both
for the peasant and the artisan, the first half of the eighteenth
century was a time of rapidly increasing prosperity. The evil
which specially stirred up Oglethorpe to his work of reform
was the suffering of the imprisoned debtors. That mania of
speculation which soon after the accession of George I. ran
through all trading classes, great and small, of which the South
Sea Bubble was but the most noteworthy and widespread in-
stance, must have filled the debtors' prisons with victims, often
deserving of no moral blame, yet exposed to the wrath of cred-
itors themselves half ruined and therefore necessitous and

Oglethorpe's first appearance as a public man was in obtain-
ing a Parliamentary inquiry into the condition of the debtors'
prisons. The results of that inquiry forced upon him the con-
viction that for the victims there could be no hope save a fresh
start in a new world.

The relief of the distressed was not, however, the only motive
which urged Oglethorpe to take up colonization. The presence
Sir Robert of Spanish neighbors to the south had long been a
go^cry's source of danger to South Carolina. It was a danger,
project. (.QQ^ which the colony was ill-fitted to face. The
population was sparse, the Indians on the western marches were
warlike and unfriendly, the slaves were constantly escaping to
the Spaniard, and serving to replenish a negro regiment which
might at any moment be used against the colony. More than
one project had been set on foot for a military colony, designed
to cover the frontier of South Carolina. One of these was at
least ambitious enough to deserve special notice. Among the
followers of Lord Cardross in his ill-starred attempt to colonize
in South Carolina was a Nova Scotia baronet. Sir Robert Mont-
gomery. His son and successor, also Sir Robert, undeterred by
his father's misfortunes and by the tragic results of the Darien


settlement, revived Lord Cardross's project in a vague form-
He obtained from the Proprietors of South Carolina so much
of the province as lay beyond the Savannah. To this province
or, as he not unfittingly called it, Margravate, he gave the name
of Azilia. Colonial history can show us not a few wild schemes
of fortunes to be made without risk or effort out of the bound-
less resources of the New World. But of all such schemes,
those of Sir Robert Montgomery are probably the wildest and
most extravagant. They are set forth by him in what may
be called in modern language a prospectus, inviting subscrip-
tions. In this the soil of the Margravate is offered in lots of
five acres or more, at forty shillings an acre. The purchasers,
however, are not to be in the position of colonists or landowners,
so much as shareholders. As far as one can understand Sir
Robert's proposals, he was to administer the agriculture and
trade of the colony for the joint benefits of the whole body of
subscribers. Only half the capital subscribed was to be called
up. In addition to a dividend on their capital every subscriber
of five hundred pounds was at a future day to receive as a bonus,
six hundred and forty acres of land with a house. The province
was to be parceled out into symmetrical departments, each
securely fortified against Spanish invasion. The colony was to-
make the English consumer independent of foreign markets.
Coffee, tea, figs, raisins, currants, almonds, olives, silk, wine,
cochineal, "and a great variety of still more rich commodities,"
"all these,'' the Proprietor announced, "we shall certainly propa-
pate.'' At the same time he modestly admits that these are dis-
tant views. For the present the profits of the shareholders were
to come from potash and rice. The labor of a single man is to
cost the shareholders thirty-three pounds a year, and will in
either of the industries produce fifty pounds. The ordinary cost
of boiling potash was to be greatly reduced by some process not
explained, whereby all metal would be dispensed with.'

Nothing in this wonderful document is more amazing than
the unquestioning confidence with which the projector appeals
to the public. One is reminded of Subtle's promises to Sir
Epicure. There are no doubts, no hints at the possible need of

* Montgomery's Prospectus, entitled *' A Discourse concerning tlie designed
establishment of a New Colony to the South of Carolina, the most delightful
country in the Universe," was published in 1717. It is reprinted in Force's.
Tracts, i.


modifying his schemes in the future. Sir Robert describes his
province of a hundred and sixteen squares each a mile on every
side, the four great parks filled with all kinds of cattle, and
the city with "a large void space afEording a fine view of the
city in drawing near it," and with "the Margrave's house con-
taining all sorts of public edifices for dispatch of business."

Montgomery anticipates, only to dismiss with magnificent
-scorn, the suggestion that it might be well to have trustees, or as
we should rather call them directors, to look after the interests
of the shareholders. And it must be admitted in justice that
Montgomery argues with some shrewdness against the evils of
divided counsels, and illustrates his point effectively from the
early history of colonization. Intending shareholders might
probably have felt that, though the government of a directorate
might be bad, that of one who was either a wild enthusiast or
an unscrupulous projector would be worse. No attempt was
made, as far as history shows, to put Montgomery's schemes into
practice. The design itself is an episode of some little interest
as illustrating the wild projects of speculation which were float-
ing in the air. As far as colonial history goes, it has but a
negative importance. If Montgomery's schemes had been a
little more sane or more sanely expressed, if they had had in
them just enough show of reason and sobriety to enlist any fol-
lowers, they might have discredited Oglethorpe's projects and
laid practical difficulties in his way.

The scheme of a colony south of Carolina, a mark as one
may call it, appealed to Oglethorpe's two ruling passions.
Inception philanthropy and soldiership. He saw that the proj-
th°r|e% ^<^*s of a pauper colony and a military outpost might
scheme. ]jg combined, and he doubtless felt that each scheme
would strengthen the other by enlisting different supporters
and appealing to different sets of motives. His first step was
to get partners and capital. On June 9, 1732, a body of trus-
tees, twenty-one in number, was incorporated by charter.^ Two
only of the names besides that of Oglethorpe meet one in the
■general history of the time. One was George Heathcote, a
member, though not a prominent one, of the constitutional
Jacobite party who followed Windham; the other Lord Perci-
val, afterwards Lord Egmont, an independent and somewhat

^ The charter is printed in the True and Historical Narrative.


"wayward politician. It would seem as if the colonial scheme
had the good fortune not to be identified with any party, politi-
cal or ecclesiastical.

The charter described the partners as trustees, and their func-
tions were strictly limited in accordance with that description.
They were expressly debarred from enjoying any direct pecun-
iary interest in the colony either as landholders or as paid offi-
cials. A careful system of audit was enforced, whereby the
accounts of the trust had to be annually submitted to the Lord
Chancellor, the two Chief Justices, the Chief Baron, and the
Master of the Rolls. Private contributions came in to the
amount of rather more than three thousand seven hundred

Although the military side of Oglethorpe's scheme counted
for something in his own mind and that of his supporters, yet
Special the establishment of the colony as a means for the

interest ,. ^ ^ ,. ^ ^. , . , .

of the relief of distress came first. Elsewhere in the gal-

Georgia, lantry of Oglethorpe and his Highland soldiers, in
the mingled self-devotion and self-will of the Wesleys, we have
incidents full of dramatic and biographical interest. To those
who study colonial history in a serious and scientific spirit, the
special importance of Georgia in its early days lies in the battle
between industry, organized and guided by benevolent intelli-
gence, and pauperism. Regarded thus the history of Georgia
in its first years has a unique value. For the most part the con-
ditions of colonial life were so simple and so favorable, and its
■economical problems therefore so easy of solution, that from
that point of view colonial history does not carry with it much
profitable instruction. The efforts of the legislature in the
early days of New England to control wages and prices show
the hopeless and unpractical nature of such attempts. Later
-colonial history reminds one of the economic evils of a reckless
issue of inconvertible paper money. But in neither of these
instances can we say that colonial history does more than illus-
trate what all sane men recognize as true. No one believes, no
•one but a party politician pretends to believe, that the ordinary
laws of demand and supply can be suspended for his own special
benefit. But the problem which the founders of Georgia set
themselves to solve lies in that debatable land between politics

^Account showing the Progress, &c., p. 13.


and economics, where every ray of light which can be gained
from practical experience is valuable. It is one of those ques-
tions where the teaching of abstract economy fails, because many
of the premises lie wholly outside its sphere. Political economy
will tell us what will be the ultimate result of certain conditions
if things are left to themselves. But it may be that the matter
which concerns the legislator and the man of affairs is not the
ultimate result, but some intermediate stage. That does not
make it otherwise than folly to ignore the plain teaching of
economy. But it should remind us that political economy only
teaches, while public morality or public expediency commands.

To gather together those who form the waste and wreckage
of society, to form them into an industrial community isolated
more or less from the world in which they have lived and failed,
to give them a fresh start, free from the evil influences which

Online LibraryJohn Andrew DoyleEnglish colonies in America ... → online text (page 33 of 49)