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Biographical Memorials of James Oglethorpe online

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me a difference to determine, which otherwise would have occasioned a

"Our people still lie in tents, there being only two clapboard houses
built, and three sawed houses framed. Our crane, our battery of
cannon, and magazine are finished. This is all that we have been able
to do, by reason of the smallness of our number, of which many have
been sick, and others unused to labor; though, I thank God, they are
now pretty well, and we have not lost one since our arrival here."[1]

[Footnote 1: _Political Taste of Great Britain_, Vol. XLV. p. 445.]

The following extract from a letter dated Charlestown, 22d March,
1732-3, and printed in the South Carolina Gazette, describes, in
honorable terms, the attention which the leader of this enterprise
devoted to its furtherance.[1]

[Footnote 1: See also "_Account showing the progress of the Colony of
Georgia from its first Establishment_." Lond. 1741. The _Appendix_,
No. 2 contains the Letter, with this notice - "Written by a Gentleman
of Charlestown, who, with some others, went thither, [i.e. to
Savannah] out of curiosity."]

"Mr. Oglethorpe is indefatigable, and takes a great deal of pains.
His fare is but indifferent, having little else at present but salt
provisions. He is extremely well beloved by all the people. The
general title they give him is _Father_. If any of them are sick, he
immediately visits them, and takes a great deal of care of them. If
any difference arises, he is the person that decides it. Two happened
while I was there, and in my presence; and all the parties went away,
to outward appearance, satisfied and contented with his determination.
He keeps a strict discipline. I never saw one of his people drunk, nor
heard one of them swear, all the time I was there. He does not allow
them rum; but in lieu gives them English beer. It is surprizing to see
how cheerful the men go to work, considering they have not been bred
to it. There are no idlers there. Even the boys and girls do their
part. There are four houses already up, but none finished; and he
hopes, when he has got more sawyers, which I suppose he will have in a
short time, to finish two houses a week. He has ploughed up some land;
part of which he has sowed with wheat, which has come up, and looks
promising. He has two or three gardens, which he has sowed with divers
sorts of seed, and planted thyme, sage, pot-herbs, leeks, skellions,
celery, liquorice, &c., and several trees. He was palisading the town
and inclosing some part of the common; which I suppose may be finished
in about a fortnight's time. In short, he has done a vast deal of
work for the time; and I think his name justly deserves to be

"Colonel Bull, who had been sent by Governor Johnson to assist in
laying out the town, and to describe to the people the manner of
felling the trees, and of clearing, breaking up, and cultivating the
ground, was a very efficient helper. He brought with him four of his
negroes, who were sawyers, to help the workmen; and also provisions
for them; being resolved not to put the Trustees to any expense; but
to bestow his aid in the most free and useful manner. Others from
Carolina, also, sent laborers, who, being accustomed to preparing
a plantation for settlement, were very expert, and of essential

Thus generously assisted, the new settlers were enabled to cut down a
great number of trees[1]; to clear the land, to construct comfortable
houses[2], to make enclosures of yards and gardens, to build
a guard-house and fortification, and to effect other means of
accommodation and defence.

[Footnote 1: Four beautiful pine-trees were left upon the plain, under
which General Oglethorpe encamped.]

[Footnote 2: These were all of the same size; 22 by 16 feet. The
town-lots consisted of one quarter of an acre; but they had other
lots, at a small distance out of town, consisting of five acres,
designed for plantations.]

A public garden was laid out, which was designed as a nursery, in
order to supply the people with white mulberry trees, vines, oranges,
olives, and various necessary plants, for their several plantations;
and a gardener was appointed for the care of it, to be paid by the

Things being put in a good train, and the proper station and
employment of every man assigned him, Oglethorpe went to Charlestown
on a visit to Governor Johnson and the Council. His object was to make
a more intimate acquaintance with them, gratefully to acknowledge the
succors for the new comers which had been so generously bestowed; and
to consult measures for their mutual intercourse.

On Saturday, June 9th, presenting himself before the Governor and
House of Assembly, he thus addressed them.

"I should think myself very much wanting in justice and gratitude,
if I should neglect thanking your Excellency, you gentlemen of the
Council, and you gentlemen of the Assembly, for the assistance which
you have given to the Colony of Georgia. I have long wished for an
opportunity of expressing my sense of the universal zeal which the
inhabitants of this province have shewn for assisting that colony; and
could not think of any better opportunity than now, when the whole
province is virtually present in its General Assembly. I am,
therefore, gentlemen, to thank you for the handsome assistance given
by private persons, as well as by the public. I am to thank you,
not only in the name of the Trustees, and the little colony now in
Georgia, but in behalf of all the distressed people of Britain and
persecuted Protestants of Europe, to whom a place of refuge will be
secured by this first attempt.

"Your charitable and generous proceeding, besides the
self-satisfaction which always attends such actions, will be of the
greatest advantage to this province. You, gentlemen, are the best
judges of this; since most of you have been personal witnesses of the
dangerous blows which this country has escaped from French, Spanish,
and Indian arms. Many of you know this by experience, having
signalized yourselves personally, either when this province by its
own strength, and unassisted by any thing but the courage of its
inhabitants and the providence of God, repulsed the formidable
invasions of the French; or when it defeated the whole body of the
southern Indians, who were armed against it, and was invaded by the
Spaniards, who assisted them. You, gentlemen, know that there was a
time when every day brought fresh advices of murders, ravages, and
burnings; when no profession or calling was exempted from arms; when
every inhabitant of the province was obliged to leave wife, family,
and useful occupations, and undergo the fatigues of war, for the
necessary defence of the country; and all their endeavors scarcely
sufficient to guard the western and southern frontiers against the

"It would be needless for me to tell you, who are much better judges,
how the increasing settlement of a new colony upon the southern
frontiers, will prevent the like danger for the future. Nor need I
tell you how every plantation will increase in value, by the safety of
the Province being increased; since the lands to the southward already
sell for above double what they did before the new Colony arrived.
Nor need I mention the great lessening of the burden of the people by
increasing the income of the tax from the many thousand acres of land
either taken or taking up on the prospect of future security.

"The assistance which the Assembly have given, though not quite
equal to the occasion, is very large with respect to the present
circumstances of the Province; and, as such, shows you to be kind
benefactors to your new-come countrymen, whose settlements you
support; and dutiful subjects to his Majesty, whose revenues and
dominions you by this means increase and strengthen.

"As I shall soon return to Europe, I must recommend the infant Colony
to your further protection; being assured, both from your generosity
and wisdom, that you will, in case of any danger or necessity, give it
the utmost support and assistance."

To the insertion of this speech in the _Political State of Great
Britain_, October, 1733, page 361, it is added, "On the Sunday evening
following he set out again for Georgia; so that we may perceive
that there is no endeavor wanting in him to establish and make that
settlement a flourishing colony; but his conduct in this whole affair
is by much the more extraordinary, and the more to be applauded,
because, by the nature of the settlement, he cannot so much as expect
any private or particular benefit; he cannot possibly have any other
reward but that which is the certain, the eternal reward of good
actions, a consciousness of having done a service to his country, and
to mankind."

Favored by their industry, and the smiles of a propitious providence
in that delightful region, "the wilderness and the solitary place was
glad for them; and the desert rejoiced and blossomed as a rose."[1]
"They planted vineyards, and made themselves gardens, and set out in
them trees of all kinds of fruits."[2]

[Footnote 1: Isaiah, xxxv. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Ecclesiastes, ii. 3.]

In aid and encouragement of the settlement, the Trustees received
a letter from THOMAS PENN, Proprietor of Pennsylvania, dated
Philadelphia, March 6th, 1732-3, approving very highly of the
undertaking, promising to contribute all the assistance in his power,
and acquainting them that he had for himself subscribed one hundred
pounds sterling, and that he was collecting what sums of money he
could get from others, to be sent them, in order to be employed for
the purposes of their charter[1].

[Footnote 1: _Political State of Great Britain_, for June, 1733, Vol.
XLV. p. 543.]

It has been already observed that "Oglethorpe endeavored very early to
secure the favor of the Indians, who, by ranging through the woods,
would be capable of giving constant intelligence to prevent any
surprise upon the people, and would be a good out-guard for the inland
parts of the Colony; as also to obtain of them grants of territory,
and privilege of undisturbed occupancy and improvement[1]." He was
pleased, therefore, on his return from Charlestown, to find the chiefs
of the Lower Creeks in waiting; the purpose of whose visit, as
made known by Mr. Wiggan[2] and Mr. John Musgrove, who acted as
interpreters, was to treat on an alliance with the Colony.

[Footnote 1: _Account, showing the Progress of the Colony of Georgia,
from its first Establishment_. Lond. 1741, p. 13.]

[Footnote 2: William Wiggan, who accompanied Sir Alexander Cuming in
the beginning of the year 1731, on his journey to the Cherokees,
is, in the narrative of that expedition, called not merely "the
interpreter," but "the complete linguist."]

These Creeks consisted of eight tribes, united in a kind of political
confederacy; all speaking the same language, but being under separate
jurisdictions. Their deputation was composed of their micoes, or
chiefs, and leading warriors, about fifty in number.[1]

[Footnote 1: "Besides a king, every Indian town has a head warrior, who
is in great esteem among them, and whose authority seems to be greater
than their kings; because the king is looked upon as little else than
a civil magistrate, except it so happens that he is at the same time
a head warrior." _Narrative of a Journey among the Indians in the
Northwest parts of South Carolina_, 1731, by Sir ALEXANDER CUMING.
See, also, Appendix, No. XII.]

The General received them with courtesy, and then invited them to "a
talk," in one of the new houses. He informed them that the English, by
coming to settle there, did not pretend to dispossess, nor think to
annoy the natives; but above all things desired to live on good terms
with them, and hoped, through their representatives, now present, to
obtain from them a cession of that part of the region on which he had
entered, and to form and confirm a treaty of friendship and trade.

When he had explained his views with respect to the settlers, and
their designs in making the location, Ouechachumpa, a very tall old
man, in the name of the rest, informed the British adventurers what
was the extent of the country claimed by their tribes. He acknowledged
the superiority of the white men to the red; and said that he was
persuaded that the Great Spirit who dwelt above and all around, (whose
immensity he endeavored to express by throwing abroad his hands,
and prolonging his articulations as he spoke,) had sent the English
thither for the good of the natives; and, therefore, they were welcome
to all the land which the Creeks did not use themselves. He confirmed
his speech by laying before Oglethorpe eight buckskins, one for each
of the Creeks; the best things, he said, that they had to bestow. He
thanked them for their kindness to Tomo Chichi, who, it seems, had
been banished with some of his adherents, from his own nation; but
for his valor and wisdom had been chosen mico by the Yamacraws, an
emigrating branch of the same stock.

The declarations of the speaker were confirmed by short speeches of
the others; when Tomo Chichi, attended by some of his friends, came
in, and, making a low obeisance, said, "When these white men came,
I feared that they would drive us away, for we were weak; but they
promised not to molest us. We wanted corn and other things, and they
have given us supplies; and now, of our small means, we make them
presents in return. Here is a buffalo skin, adorned with the head
and feathers of an eagle. The eagle signifies speed, and the buffalo
strength. The English are swift as the eagle, and strong as the
buffalo. Like the eagle they flew hither over great waters; and like
the buffalo nothing can withstand them. But the feathers of the
eagle are soft, and signify kindness; and the skin of the buffalo is
covering, and signifies protection. Let these, then, remind them to be
kind, and protect us."

The alliance was soon made. The treaty contained stipulations on the
part of the English, concerning trade; reparation of injuries, should
any be committed; and punishment for impositions, should any be
practised upon them; and, on the part of the Indians, a free and
formal cession of that part of the region which was not used by the
Yamacraws, nor wanted by the Creeks. By this cession they made a grant
to the Trustees of the lands upon Savannah river as far as the river
Ogechee, and all the lands along the sea-coast between Savannah and
Alatamaha rivers, extending west as high as the tide flows, and
including all the islands; the Indians reserving to themselves the
islands of Ossabaw, Sapeloe, and St. Catherines, for the purposes of
hunting, bathing and fishing; as also the tract of land lying between
Pipe-maker's bluff and Pallachucola creek, above Yamacraw bluff, which
they retained as an encampment when they should come to visit their
beloved friends in that vicinity. This special reservation of some
islands had been made by them in their treaty with Governor Nicholson,
in 1722.

Oglethorpe then presented to each of the eight chiefs a laced coat
and hat, and a shirt; to each of the eight war-captains, a gun, with
powder, flint, bullets and shot; to the beloved men a duffle mantle
of coarse cloth; - and distributed some smaller presents among their
attendants. Upon this they took their leave of him, highly satisfied
with the treatment which they had met.[1]

[Footnote 1: This Treaty was sent to England, and was confirmed by the
Trustees on the 18th of October, 1733. For a copy of it, see McCALL,
_History of Georgia_, Appendix to Vol. I. p. 357.

The _History of Georgia_, by Major McCALL has great merit. It was
written by the worthy author under circumstances of bodily suffering,
submitted to, indeed with meekness, borne with heroic fortitude, and
endured with unfailing patience. It is wonderful that he succeeded
so well in the accomplishment of his work, considering the scanty
materials which he could procure; for he says, that, "without map or
compass, he entered an unexplored forest, destitute of any other
guide than a few ragged pamphlets, defaced newspapers, and scraps of

Having taken much pains to become acquainted with the character of the
natives, he furnished a very intelligent traveller, by whom he was
visited, with an interesting account of their manners and customs; who
annexed it to the published volume of his travels.[1]

[Footnote 1: As this is an extremely rare book, I give the title from
a copy in the library of Harvard College. "_A new voyage to Georgia,
by a young gentleman: giving an account of his travels in South
Carolina, and part of North Carolina. To which is added a curious
account of the Indians by an Honorable Person; and a Poem to James
Oglethorpe, Esq., on his arrival from Georgia_." London, 1735. 12mo.

The author of the "_History of Georgia_," contained in the 40th volume
of the "_Universal History_," page 456, quotes passages from this
"Account of the Indians," and ascribes it to Oglethorpe. - Mr. SALMON
in the 3d vol. of his _Modern History_, p. 602, giving an account of
_the present state of Georgia_, introduces a quotation from what he
calls "Mr. OGLETHORPE'S account of the religion and government of the
Creeks," in the following words: "Mr. OGLETHORPE, speaking of the
religion and government of the Creek nation, in 'a letter from Georgia
to a person of honor in London,' says 'There seems to be a way opened
to our Colony towards the conversion of the Indians,' &c. This is
decisive in fixing the author; for Mr. SALMON knew the General
personally; and, on publishing another edition of his elaborate work,
obtained from him, a very interesting '_Continuation of the present
state of Georgia_.'" The Letter is copied into the _Gentleman's
Magazine_, Vol. III. p. 108 and 483. See also Appendix, No. XIII.]

On the 18th of June he went to the Horse-quarter, which lies six miles
up the river Ogechee, and there took with him Captain McPherson, with
a detachment of his rangers, on an excursion into the interior. After
a march of forty miles westward, he chose a post, commanding the
passages by which the Indians used to invade Carolina in the late
wars. Here, upon an eminence which commands all the country round,
he directed that a fortification should be built, to be called "Fort
Argyle," in memory of his honored patron John Duke of Argyle.[1] It is
on the west bank of the Ogechee river. Its design was to protect the
settlers from invasions by the Spaniards. Captain McPherson and his
troop were to be quartered there, and ten families from Savannah to be
removed, as cultivators, to its immediate vicinity.

[Footnote 1: See Appendix, No. XIV.]

On the 7th of July, at day break, the inhabitants of Savannah were
assembled on the strand for the purpose of designating the wards of
the town, and assigning the lots. In a devotional service, they
united in thanksgiving to God, that the lines had fallen to them in a
pleasant place, and that they were about to have a goodly heritage.
The wards and tithings were then named; each ward consisting of four
tithings, and each tithing of ten houses; and a house lot was given
to each freeholder. There being in Derby ward but twenty one houses
built; and the other nineteen having no house erected on them, Mr.
Milledge and Mr. Goddard, the two chief carpenters, offered, in the
name of themselves and seventeen of their helpers, to take the unbuilt
on lots, and give the built ones to those who were less able to help

The people then partook of a plentiful dinner, which their generous
Governor had provided.[1]

[Footnote 1: An account of this transaction in the _South Carolina
Gazette_, under the date of August 8th, closes with this remark; "Some
of the people having privately drunk too freely of rum, are dead; and
that liquor, which was always discountenanced there, is now absolutely

In the afternoon the grant of a Court of Record was read, and the
officers were appointed. The session of the magistrates was then held,
a jury impanneled, and a case tried.

These were necessary regulations for establishing a due regard to
order, discipline, and government. And yet, with all the influence
which their honored leader could give to sanction the measures and
support the authority, there was much to be done to render the
administration effective. The settlers had no common bond of
attachment or accordance; of course, it was very difficult to dispose
them to the reciprocal offices of a social state, much more so to the
still higher obligations of a civil compact. Together with these aims
of those who were put into places of authority, they were obliged
daily to use their endeavors to bring the restive and quarrelsome
into proper subordination; to keep the sluggish and lazy diligently
employed, and to teach the thriftless to be economical and prudent.

"Tantae molis erat disjunctis condere Gentem!"


Oglethorpe intended to visit Boston, in New England - Governor
Belcher's Letter to him - Provincial Assembly appoint a Committee to
receive him - Sets out on an exploratory Excursion - Names an Island,
Jekyl - Visits Fort Argyle - Returns to Savannah - Saltzburgh emigrants,
conducted by Baron Von Reck, come to settle in Georgia - Oglethorpe
assists them in selecting a place - They call it Ebenezer - He then goes
up the river to Palacholas - Returns - Goes to Charlestown, with Tomo
Chichi and other Indians, in order to take passage to England.

Oglethorpe intended to have made the tour of the Colonies;
particularly to have visited Boston, in Massachusetts. Apprized of
this intention, Governor Belcher addressed to him the following

[Footnote 1: Copied from the letter-book of Governor Belcher, in the
cabinet of the Massachusetts Historical Society.]

Boston, New England, May 3d, 1733. HONORED SIR,

It is with great pleasure that I congratulate you on your safe
arrival in America; and I have a still greater in the advantages
which these parts of his Majesty's dominions will reap from your
noble and generous pursuits of good to mankind in the settlement
of Georgia. May God Almighty attend you with his blessing, and
crown your toils with success. Several of my friends, sir, from
London, acquaint me with your intentions to pass by land from
South Carolina, through the king's territories as far as this
place; where I shall be very proud of shewing you the just esteem
which I have for you; and shall depend that you will please to
accept such quarters as my habitation affords during your stay in
this government. When you get to Philadelphia or New York, I shall
be glad of the favor of a line from you, to know how and when you
make your route hither.

I am, with great respect, sir,

Your most obedient, and most humble servant,


At the next Assembly of the Province, the Governor, in a special
message, apprized them of the expectation which he had of a visit from
the General; and in the House of Representatives "it was ordered that
a committee should be raised to prepare for the reception of James
Oglethorpe, Esq., who may be expected in Boston this summer; that so
the government may express their grateful sense of his good services
to the public interest of the Province."

June 21st, 1733, the following motion was agreed on: -

"Whereas James Oglethorpe, Esq., a member of Parliament, and now at
Georgia, near South Carolina, hath at several times appeared in favor
of New England; and, in a particular manner done many good offices
for this Province, of which this Court hath been advised by Mr. Agent
Wilkes, and that he intends, in a short time, to return to Great
Britain, by the way of Boston: -

"_Voted_, That Mr. Speaker, Mr. Cooke, Major Brattle, Mr. Thacher,
Mr. Welles, Mr. Cushing, Mr. Hall, Mr. Webb, and Major Bowles, be a
Committee, from this House, to congratulate that honorable gentleman
upon his arrival at Boston; and, in their name and behalf, acquaint
him that the Assembly are well knowing of the many good offices he
hath done this Province, in that, when the interest, trade, and
business thereof have been under the consideration of the British
Parliament, he hath, in a distinguishing manner, consulted measures to
perpetuate the peace and lasting happiness of this government. And,
as his worthy and generous actions justly deserve a most grateful and
public acknowledgment, to assure him that this country will retain a
lasting remembrance of his great benefactions; and that a recognition

Online LibraryThaddeus Mason HarrisBiographical Memorials of James Oglethorpe → online text (page 5 of 24)