Georgia Colony

 

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State Seal of GeorgiaGeorgia, the latest settled State of the original thirteen. It framed its first State constitution in 1777, its second in 1789, and a third in 1798, which was several times amended. On June 2, 1788, Georgia ratified the national Constitution. The settlers on the frontier suffered much from incursions of the CREEK and CHEROKEE INDIANS, but their friendship was secured by treaties in 1790-91. By a treaty in 1802 the Creeks ceded to the United States a large tract, which was afterwards assigned to Georgia, now forming the southwestern counties of the State. The same year Georgia ceded to the United States all its claims to the lands westward of the boundaries of its present limits. Finally difficulties arose between the State and the national government, respecting the Cherokees, and on their removal to the country west of the Mississippi, in 1838, Georgia came into possession of all their lands. Immediately after the election of Mr. Lincoln in 1860, the politicians of Georgia took measures for accomplishing the secession of the State. Its delegates in the Confederate government organized at Montgomery, Alabama, were conspicuous, ALEXANDER. H. STEPHENS being made Vice-President of the Confederacy. The governor of Georgia ordered the seizure of the public property of the United States within the limits of his State, and war made havoc on its coasts and in the interior. Sherman swept through the State with a large army late in 1864, " living off the country," and within its borders the President of the Confederacy was captured in May, 1865 (see DAVIS, JEFFERSON). Within its borders was the famous Andersonville prison. In June, 1865, a provisional governor was appointed for the State. A convention held at Milledgeville late in October repealed the ordinance of secession, declared the war debt void, amended the constitution so as to abolish slavery, and in November elected a governor, legislature, and members of Congress. Congress did not approve these measures, and the Senators and Representatives chosen were not admitted to seats. In 1867, Georgia, with Alabama and Florida, formed a military district, and was placed under military rule. A convention at Atlanta, in March, 1868, framed a constitution, which was ratified in April by a majority of nearly 18,000 votes. On June 25, Congress, by act, provided for the readmission of Georgia, with other States, upon their ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the national Constitution. For a violation of the RECONSTRUCTION ACT, in not permitting colored men, legally elected, to occupy seats in the legislature, Georgia representatives were not permitted to take seats in Congress. The Supreme Court of the State declared that negroes were entitled to hold office. A new election was held, both houses of the State legislature were duly organized, January 31, 1869, all the requirements of Congress were acceded to, and, by act of July 15, Georgia was readmitted into the Union. Its representatives took their seats in December, 1869. Since the close of the war Georgia has had a most remarkable material development, caused in large part by the introduction of cotton manufacturing. Its mills are among the largest in the world, and their output is steadily increasing. The State was the first to feel the life of the "New South." The Cotton Expostition in 1881 and the Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895, both in Atlanta, showed to the world the practical accomplishments under the new order of things, and greatly stimulated all industrial efforts. In 1900 the assessed valuation of all taxable property was $435,000,000, and the recognized bonded debt was $7,836,000. The population in 1890 was 1,837,353; in 1900, 2,216,331.

Founding of Georgia Colony

When, in 1729, the proprietors of the Carolinas surrendered their charter to the crown, the whole country southward of the Savannah River to the vicinity of St. Augustine was a wilderness, peopled by native tribes, and was claimed by the Spaniards as a part of Florida. The English disputed the claim, and war clouds seemed to be gathering. At that juncture GENERAL JAMES EDWARD OGLETHORPE, commiserating the wretched condition of prisoners for debt who crowded the English prisons, proposed in Parliament the founding of a colony in America, partly for the benefit of this unfortunate class, and as an asylum for oppressed Protestants of Germany and other Continental states. A committee of inquiry reported favorably, and the plan, as proposed by Oglethorpe, was approved by King George II. A royal charter was obtained for a corporation (June 9, 1732) for twenty-one years, " in trust for the poor," to establish a colony in the disputed territory south of the Savannah, to be called Georgia, in honor of the King. Individuals subscribed largely to defray the expenses of emigrants, and within two years Parliament appropriated $160,000 for the same purpose. The trustees, appointed by the crown, possessed all legislative and executive power, and there was no political liberty for the people. In November, 1732, Oglethorpe left England with 120 emigrants, and, after a passage of fifty days, touched at Charleston, giving great joy to the inhabitants, for he was about to erect a barrier between them and the Indians and Spaniards. Landing a large portion of the emigrants on Port Royal Island, he proceeded to the Savannah River with the remainder, and upon Yamacraw Bluff (the site of Savannah) he laid the foundations of the future State in the ensuing spring of 1733. The rest of the emigrants soon joined him. They built a fort, and called the place Savannah, the Indian name of the river, and there he held a friendly conference with the Indians, with whom satisfactory arrangements for obtaining sovereignty of the domain were made. Within eight years 2,500 emigrants were sent over from England at an expense to the trustees of $400,000.

The condition upon which the lands were parcelled out was military duty; and so grievous were the restrictions, that many colonists went into South Carolina, where they could obtain land in fee. Nevertheless, the colony increased in numbers, a great many emigrants coming from Scotland and Germany. Oglethorpe went to England in 1734, and returned in 1736 with 300 emigrants, among them 150 Highlanders skilled in military affairs. John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield came to spread the gospel among the people and the surrounding natives. Moravians had also settled in Georgia, but the little colony was threatened with disaster. The jealous Spaniards at St. Augustine showed signs of hostility. Against this expected trouble Oglethorpe had prepared by building forts in that direction. Finally, in 1739, war broke out between England and Spain, and Oglethorpe was made commander of the South Carolina and Georgia troops. With 1,000 men and some Indians he invaded Florida, but returned unsuccessful. In 1742 the Spaniards retaliated, and, with a strong land and naval force, threatened the Georgia colony with destruction. Disaster was averted by a stratagem employed by Oglethorpe, and peace was restored.

James Edward Oglethorpe

THE LANDING OF OGLETHORPE IN GEORGIA.

Slavery was prohibited in the colony, and the people murmured. Many settlements were abandoned, for tillers of the soil were few. Finally, in 1750, the restrictions concerning slavery were removed; and in 1752, the trustees having surrendered their charter to the crown, Georgia became a royal province, with privileges similar to the others. A General Assembly was established in 1755, and in 1763 all the lands between the Savannah and St. Mary rivers were, by royal proclamation, annexed to Georgia. The colony prospered from the time of the transfer to the crown. The Georgians sympathized with their Northern brethren in their political grievances, and bore a conspicuous part in the war for independence. A State constitution was adopted by a convention on February 5, 1777, and Georgia took its place among the independent States of the Union, with BUTTON GWINNETT, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, as acting governor.

Under the King's charter for planting the new colony, there were twenty-one trustees. Lord (Viscount) Perceval was chosen president of the trustees, and a code of regulations for the colony, with agreements and stipulations, was speedily prepared. The title of the association was, Trustees for Settling and Establishing the Colony of Georgia. The trustees were: Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury, John (Lord) Perceval, Edward Digby, George Carpenter, James Edward Oglethorpe, George Heathcote, Thomas Tower, Robert Moore, Robert Hucks, Roger Holland, William Sloper, Francis Eyles, John La Roche, James Vernon, William Beletha, John Burton, Richard Bundy, Arthur Beaford, Samuel Smith, Adam Anderson, and Thomas Coram. They were vested with legislative powers for the government of the colony, for the space of twenty-one years, at the expiration of which time a permanent government was to be established by the King or his successor, in accordance with British law and usage. They adopted a seal for the colony, which indicated the avowed intention of making it a silk-producing commonwealth. On one side was represented a group of toiling silk-worms, and the motto, "Non sibi, sed alias"; on the other, the genius of the colony, between two urns (two rivers), with a cap of liberty on her head, in her hands a spear and a horn of plenty, and the words, "Colonia Georgia Aug." This was a strange seal for a colony whose toilers and others possessed no political freedom. The code of laws and regulations adopted by the trustees provided that each tract of land granted to a settler should be accepted as a pledge that the owner should take up arms for the common defense whenever required; that no tract should exceed 25 acres in extent, and no person should possess more than 500 acres; that no woman should be capable of succeeding to landed property; that, in default of male heirs, the property of a proprietor should revert to the trustees, to be again granted to another emigrant; that if any portion of land granted should not, within eighteen years thereafter, be cleared, fenced, and cultivated, it should relapse to the trustees. It was recommended that the daughters of a deceased proprietor having no male heirs, unless provided for by marriage, should have some compensation, and his widow have the use of his house and half his land during her life. No inhabitant was permitted to leave the province without a license; the importation of rum was disallowed; trade with the West Indies was declared unlawful, and negro slavery was Absolutely forbidden. It has been well said that, with one or two exceptions, this code did not exhibit a trace of common-sense. It is no wonder the colony did not prosper, for the laws were hostile to contentment, discouraging every planter whose children were girls, and offering very poor incentives to industry. When, in 1752, the trusteeship expired, and Georgia was made a royal province, its growth was rapid.

Spaniards Attack Georgia

In 1742 the Spaniards at St. Augustine determined to invade, seize, and hold Georgia, and capture or drive the English settlers from it. With a fleet of thirty-six vessels from Cuba and a land force about 3,000 strong, they entered the harbor of St. Simon's in July. Oglethorpe, always vigilant, had learned of preparations for this expedition, and he was on St. Simon's Island before them, but with less than 1,000 men, including Indians, for the governor of South Carolina had failed to furnish men or supplies. The task of defending both provinces from invasion devolved upon the Georgians. When the Spanish fleet appeared Oglethorpe went on board his own little vessels and addressed the seamen with encouraging words; but when he saw the ships of the enemy pass the English batteries at the southern end of the island, he knew resistance would be in vain, so he ordered his squadron to run up to Frederica, while he spiked the guns at St. Simon's and retreated with his troops. There, waiting for reinforcements from South Carolina (which did not come), he was annoyed by attacks from Spanish detachments, but always repulsed them. Finally, he proceeded to make a night attack on the Spanish camp at St. Simon's. When near the camp a Frenchman in his army ran ahead, fired his musket, and deserted to the enemy. The Spaniards were aroused, and Oglethorpe fell back to Frederica, and accomplished the punishment of the deserter in a novel way. He addressed a letter to the Frenchman as a spy in the Spanish camp, telling him to represent the Georgians as very weak in numbers and arms, and to advise the Spaniards to attack them at once; and if they would not do so, to try and persuade them to remain at St. Simon's three days longer; for within that time a British fleet, with 2,000 land troops, would arrive to attack St. Augustine. This letter was sent to the deserter by a Spanish prisoner, who, as it was expected he would, carried it to the Spanish commander. The Frenchman was put in irons, and afterwards hanged. A council of war was held, and while it was in session vessels from Carolina, seen at sea, were mistaken for the British fleet alluded to. The Spaniards determined to attack Oglethorpe immediately, and then hasten to the defense of St. Augustine. They advanced on Frederica, along a narrow road flanked by a forest and a morass; and when within a mile of the fort Oglethorpe and his Highlanders, lying in ambush, fell upon them furiously. Nearly the whole of the advanced division were killed or captured, and a second, pressing forward, shared their fate. The Spaniards retreated in confusion, leaving about 200 dead on the field. They fled to their ships, and in them to St. Augustine, to find that they had been outgeneraled by Oglethorpe. The place of the slaughter is called "Bloody Marsh" to this day. This stratagem probably saved Georgia and South Carolina from utter destruction.

Sir James Wright was appointed royal governor of Georgia in 1764. He ruled wisely, but was a warm adherent of the royal cause. His influence kept down open resistance to the acts of Parliament for some time; but when that resistance became strong, it was suddenly overpowering. In January, 1776, Joseph Habersham, a member of the Assembly, raised a party of volunteers and made Governor Wright a prisoner, but set him free on his parole not to leave his own house. This parole he violated. A sentinel was placed before his door, and all intercourse between Wright and friends of the crown was forbidden. One stormy night (February 11, 1776), Governor Wright escaped from a back window of his house, with an attendant, fled to a boat at the riverside, and went down the Savannah 5 miles to Bonaventure, the residence of his companion; thence he was conveyed before daylight to the British armed ship Scarborough, in Tybee Sound. So ended the rule of the last royal governor in Georgia. Sir James was a native of Charleston, S. C.; the son of a chief-justice (Robert Wright) of that province; agent of the province in Great Britain; and attorney-general ; and in 1760 was appointed chief-justice and lieutenant-governor. In 1772 he was created a baronet. After his escape from Savannah he retired to England, losing all his large estate in Georgia by confiscation. He died in 1786.

Late in 1771 Noble Wimberley Jones was chosen speaker of the Georgia Assembly. He was a man of exemplary life, but the royal governor, Sir James Wright, who had reported him a strong opposer of government measures, would not consent to the choice. The Assembly voted this interference a breach of their privileges. Hillsborough, the secretary of state for the colonies, censured the House for their "unwarrantable and inconsistent arrogance," and directed the governor to "put his negative upon any person whom they should next elect for speaker, and to dissolve the Assembly in case they should question the right of such negative." So the affections of the colonies, one after another, were alienated from the mother country by her unwise rulers.

Revolutionary Activities

The Provincial Congress of Georgia assembled at Tondee's Long Room, in Savannah, July 4, 1775, at which delegates from fourteen districts and parishes were in attendance - namely, from the districts of Savannah, Vernonburg, Acton, Sea Island, and Little Ogeechee, and the parishes of St. Matthew, St. Philip, St. George, St. Andrew, St. David, St. Thomas, St. Mary, St. Paul, and St. John. Archibald Bullock was elected president of the Congress, and George Walton secretary. The Congress adopted the American Association, and appointed as delegates to the Continental Congress Lyman Hall (already there), Archibald Bullock, Dr. Jones, John Houstoun, and Rev. Dr. Zubley, a Swiss by birth, who soon became a Tory. Sir James Wright (the governor) issued proclamations to quench the flames of patriotism, but in vain. His power had departed forever.

In the winter of 1778-79, General Lincoln was sent to Georgia to take the place of General Howe. General Prevost, commanding the British forces in east Florida, was ordered to Savannah, to join Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell for the subjugation of Georgia to British rule. On his way, Prevost captured Sunbury (January 9, 1779) and took 200 Continental prisoners. As soon as he reached Savannah he sent Campbell against Augusta, which was abandoned by the garrison, who escaped across the river. The State now seemed at the mercy of the invader. An invasion of South Carolina was anticipated. The militia of that State were summoned to the field. Lincoln was at Charleston. With militia lately arrived from North Carolina and the fragments of Howe's force, he had about 1,400 men, whom he stationed to guard the fords of the Savannah. The force under Prevost was much larger, but he hesitated to cross the river, the marshy borders of which were often overflowed to the width of 3 or 4 miles, threaded only at one or two points by a narrow causeway. A detachment sent by Prevost to take possession of Port Royal Island was repulsed by Colonel Moultrie. Lincoln, being reinforced, sent Colonel Ashe, of North Carolina, with 1,400 troops, to drive the British from Augusta. The British fled down the Georgia side of the river at his approach. He crossed and pursued, and at Brier Creek, about halfway to Savannah, he lay encamped, when he was surprised, and, after a sharp skirmish, was defeated, and his troops dispersed. The British reoccupied Augusta and opened a communication with the South Carolina Tories and the friendly Creek Indians. Now secured in the quiet possession of Georgia, Prevost issued a proclamation reinstating Sir James Wright as governor, and the laws as they had been before 1775. Savannah became the headquarters of the British army in the South.

Indian Lands

By a compact between the national government and Georgia, made in 1802, they forever agreed, in consideration of the latter relinquishing her claim to the Mississippi territory, to extinguish, at the national expense, the Indian title to the lands occupied by them in Georgia, "whenever it could be peaceably done on reasonable terms." Since making that agreement, the national government had extinguished the Indian title to about 15,000,000 acres, and conveyed the same to the State of Georgia. There still remained 9,537,000 acres in possession of the Indians, of which 5,292,000 acres belonged to the Cherokees and the remainder to the Creek nation. In 1824 the State government became clamorous for the en-tire removal of the Indians from the commonwealth, and, at the solicitation of Governor Troup, President Monroe appointed two commissioners, selected by the governor, to make a treaty with the Creeks for the purchase of their lands. The latter were unwilling to sell and move away, for they had begun to enjoy the arts and comforts of civilization. They passed a law forbidding the sale of any of their lands, on pain of death. After the breaking up of the general council, a few of the chiefs violated this law by negotiating with the United States commissioners. By these chiefs, who were only a fraction of the leaders of the tribes, all the lands of the Creeks in Georgia were ceded to the United States. The treaty was ratified by the United States Senate, March 3, 1825. When information of these proceedings reached the Creeks, a secret council determined not to accept the treaty and to slay McIntosh, the chief of the party who had assented to it. He and another chief were shot, April 30. A new question now arose. Governor Troup contended that upon the ratification of the treaty the fee simple of the lands vested in Georgia. He took measures for a survey of the lands, under the authority of the legislature of Georgia, and to distribute them among the white inhabitants of the State. The remonstrances of the Creeks caused President Adams to appoint a special agent to investigate the matter, and General Gaines was sent with a competent force to prevent any disturbance. The agent reported that bad faith and corruption had marked the treaty, and that forty-nine-fiftieths of the Creeks were hostile to it. The President determined not to allow interference with the Indians until the next meeting of Congress. Troup determined, at first, to execute the treaty in spite of the President, but the firmness of the latter made the governor hesitate. A new negotiation was opened with the Creeks, and finally resulted in the cession of all the Creek lands in Georgia to the United States. By this new treaty the Creeks retained all their lands in Alabama, which had been ceded by a former treaty.

Georgia in the Civil War

On the recommendation of Senator Toombs and others at Washington, in the winter of 1860-61, the governor of Georgia (Joseph Brown) ordered the seizure of the United States coast defenses on the border of the State before the secession convention met. Fort Pulaski, on Cockspur Island, at the mouth of the Savannah River, and Fort Jackson, near the city of Savannah, were seized on Jan. 3, 1861. On the same day the National arsenal at Savannah was taken possession of by Confederates, and 700 State troops, by the orders and in the presence of the governor, took possession of the arsenal at Augusta, January 24, when the National troops there were sent to New York. In the arsenal were 22,000 muskets and rifles, some can-non, and a large amount of munitions of war. The forts were without garrisons, and each was in charge of only two or three men.

Late in November, 1861, Commodore Dupont went down the coast from PORT ROYAL  with a part of his fleet, and with ease took possession of the Big Tybee Island, at the mouth of the Savannah River, from which Fort Pulaski, which was within easy mortar distance, might be assailed, and the harbor of Savannah perfectly sealed against blockade runners. On the approach of the National gunboats the defenses were abandoned, and on Nov. 25, Dupont wrote to the Secretary of Wan: " The flag of the United States is flying over the territory of Georgia." Before the close of the year the National authority was supreme from Warsaw Sound, below the mouth of the Savannah, to the North Edisto River, below Charleston. Every fort on the islands of that region had been abandoned, and there was nothing to make serious opposition to National authority. When the National forces reached those sea islands along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia, there was a vast quantity of valuable sea-island cotton, gathered and ungathered, upon them. When the first panic was over the Confederates re-turned, stealthily, and applied the torch to millions of dollars' worth of this staple.

On January 2, 1861, elections were held in Georgia for members of a convention to consider the subject of secession. The people, outside of the leading politicians and their followers, were opposed to secession ; and Alexander H. Stephens, the most consistent and able statesman in Georgia, though believing in the right of secession, opposed the measure as unnecessary and full of danger to the public welfare. On the other hand, Robert Toombs, a shallow but popular leader, unscrupulous in methods of leadership, goaded the people on to disaster by harangues, telegraphic dispatches, circulars, etc. He was then one of the most active of the conspirators in the national Congress, and worked night and day to precipitate his State into revolution. The vote at the election was from 25,000 to 30,000 less than usual, and there was a decided majority of the members elected against secession. The convention assembled at Milledgeville, the capital of the State, on Jan. 16. There were 295 members present, who chose Mr. Crawford to preside. " With all the appliances brought to hear, with all the fierce, rushing, maddening events of the hour," said the writer of the day, " the co-operationists had a majority, notwithstanding the falling-off of nearly 30,000, and an absolute majority of elected delegates of twenty-nine. But, upon assembling, by coaxing, bullying, and all other arts, the majority was changed." On the 18th a resolution was passed by a vote of 105 to 130, declaring it to be the right and duty of the State to withdraw from the Union. On the same day they appointed a committee to draft an ordinance of secession. It was reported almost immediately, and was shorter than any of its predecessors. It was in a single paragraph, and simply declared the repeal and abrogation of all laws which bound the commonwealth to the Union, and that the State of Georgia was in " full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State." The ordinance elicited many warm expressions of Union sentiments. Mr. Stephens made a telling speech in favor of the Union, and he and his brother Linton voted against secession in every form. When, at two o'clock in the afternoon of Jan. 19, 1861, the ordinance of secession was adopted, by a vote of 208 against 89, Stephens declared that he should go with his State, and, in accordance with a resolution adopted, he signed the ordinance. A resolution to submit the ordinance to the people of the State for ratification or rejection was rejected by a large majority. At that stage of the proceedings, a copy of a resolution passed by the legislature of the State of New York, tendering to the President of the United States all the available forces of the State, to enable him to enforce the laws, was received, and produced much excitement. Toombs immediately offered the following resolution, which was adopted unanimously: " As a response to the resolution of New York, that this convention highly approve of the energetic and patriotic conduct of the governor of Georgia in taking possession of FORT PULASKI by Georgia troops, and request him to hold possession until the relations of Georgia with the federal government be determined by this convention, and that a copy of this resolution be ordered to be transmitted to the governor of New York."

While General Mitchel was holding the Charleston and Memphis Railway in northern Alabama, he set on foot one of the most daring enterprises attempted during the war. It was an effort to break up railway communications between Chattanooga and Atlanta, in Georgia. For this purpose J. J. Andrews, who had been engaged in the secret service by General Buell, was employed. In April, 1862, with twenty picked men, in the guise of Confederates from Kentucky seeking Georgia's freedom, Andrews walked to Marietta. At that place they took the cars for a station not far from the foot of Great Kenesaw Mountain, and there, while the engineer and conductor were at breakfast, they uncoupled the engine, tender, and box-car from the passenger train and started up the road at full speed. They told inquirers where they were compelled to stop that they were conveying powder to Beauregard's army. They passed several trains before they began to destroy the road. The first train that came to a broken spot had its engine reversed and became a pursuer of the raiders. Onward they dashed with the speed of a gale, passing other trains, when, at an important curve in the road, after destroying the track a considerable distance, Andrews said, " Only one more train to pass, boys, and then we will put our engine at full speed, burn the bridges after us, dash through Chattanooga, and on to Mitchel, at Huntsville." The exciting chase continued many miles. The raiders cut telegraph wires and tore up tracks. The pursuers gained upon them. Finally their lubricating oil became exhausted, and such was the speed of the engine that the brass journals in which the axles revolved were melted. Fuel failing, the raiders were compelled to leave their conveyance, 15 miles from Chattanooga, and take refuge in the tangled woods on Chickamauga Creek. A great man-hunt was organized. The mountain passes were picketed, and thousands of horse and foot soldiers scoured the country in all directions. The whole party were finally captured, and Andrews and seven of his companions were hanged. To each of the survivors the Secretary of War gave a bronze medal in token of approval.

 

 

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