History of Georgia
February 12, 2003 marks 270
years since General James Oglethorpe and his
shipload of settlers reached their new home and founded the colony of Georgia.The last of the 13 British colonies on the Atlantic seaboard, Georgia was founded on February 12, 1733 at the present site of the city of Savannah.
On June 9, 1732, King George
II granted a charter to Oglethorpe and a group of 20 friends,
organized as trustees, to establish a colony named for the king.
Oglethorpe's concern for the poverty and unemployment in England
to help relieve the poor from the harsh conditions found in debtors' prisons. It was also hoped that founding a new colony would increase trade and wealth and provide a buffer for South Carolina against attack by the Spanish, the French and the Indians
The Royal Charter for the
colony of Georgia was officially certified on June 9, 1732.114
passengers left Gravesend, England on the Anne, a 200-ton
frigate commanded by Captain John Thomas. The ship was crowded,
but the voyage went smoothly.Two sickly children died on the
trip, yet in general the company stayed healthy.�A baby,
Georgius Warren was christened on November 12 and the passengers
celebrated Oglethorpes birthday with a special dinner at
The company finally sighted Charles Town, South Carolina on January 13, 1733.
Oglethorpe gave a copy of the
Georgia Charter to the Governor of South Carolina. A scribe made
another copy in 1734, which South Carolina gave to Georgia in
1965.�The Secretary of States Office displays the 1734 Charter
in the State
Capitol on Georgia Day.
The Georgia settlers left South Carolina in a group of small boats on January 30 and landed at Yamacraw Bluff, 17 miles up the Savannah River.�Oglethorpes first official act was to kneel with the company to offer thanksgiving and prayer to God.
Four large tents were erected
that night, but soon Oglethorpe was busy laying out the land
lots for Savannah.� The first child in the colony, Georgia
Close, was born
on March 17, but she died ten months later.�Fortifications and a few houses were erected by summer, but life was very hard for the first year.� Pure water was lacking, illness spread in the muggy climate and many died.
Fortunately, the colony received some assistance from South Carolina and help from the Yamacraw Indians, whose old chief Tomo-chi-chi proved to be a lasting friend to Oglethorpe.
As more colonists arrived, the Trustees hoped that Georgia could produce silk, wine and other semitropical goods.�Nearly 500 pounds of raw silk - the most gathered in one year under the Trustees - were sent to England in 1751, but the trade in silk never succeeded as the Trustees hoped.�Sitting in London, the Trustees did not have a realistic view of life in Georgia.�Many colonists came from the cities and did not understand farming.�It was harder to grow food than the Trustees expected.�While there were good harvests in 1738 and 1739, there were many years when food had to be imported.�Though the Trustees were trying to protect the settlers when they prohibited rum and slaves, many of the colonists disliked these rules.�After Parliament refused the Trustees request for funds in 1751, the Trustees disbanded.�The colony came under the Kings control and the first Royal Governor, Captain John Reynolds, arrived in Savannah on October 29, 1754.
By that time, the colonists were already celebrating Georgia Day in memory of the first landing at Yamacraw Bluff. William Stephens, Secretary of the Province of Georgia from 1737 to 1750, wrote in his journal that the day was marked by the firing of guns, the hoisting of the flag and the drinking of toasts. He hoped that Ages to come will celebrate this Day annually here...
The Georgia Legislature gave legal recognition to the celebration in 1909 and recommended that public schools of the state hold special ceremonies each year.
In recent years, Georgia Day has been celebrated most colorfully in Savannah, where people hold parades, parties and historic programs.