Episode 015: Get to Know James Edward Oglethorpe Part 3, 1733 – 1743
We call Oglethorpe the founder of Georgia, but did you know that he was only one of 21 original Georgia Trustees? But, Oglethorpe was the only Trustee who volunteered to go with the first colonists to Georgia. Oglethorpe left England with 114 colonists in November 1732 and arrived at the site of the new colony on February 12, 1733. Interestingly, none of the original colonists were debtors.
Oglethorpe was involved in everything in the new colony. He didn’t have an official title, other than Georgia Trustee, but he acted as the new colony’s governor, military commander, and chief negotiator.
He negotiated with the Yamacraw Indians for permission to build the colony’s first city, named Savannah, on their land. He had a very good relationship with Tomochichi, chief of the Yamacraw Indians. In fact, Oglethorpe took Tomochichi and other members of his tribe to England in 1734 to meet the King and negotiate about trade and other issues.
Oglethorpe also took charge of laying out the city of Savannah, assigning land, and constructing buildings and forts. Although we don’t know for sure, some historians think that Oglethorpe designed Savannah’s city plan himself.
Oglethorpe also took charge of defending the colony against the Spanish in Florida. He built forts, trained colonists to be soldiers, and kept asking Parliament for more defense money. King George II made him a colonel and sent soldiers to Georgia to help defeat the Spanish. In 1740 Oglethorpe led an attack on St. Augustine. The British and Spanish were fighting a conflict called the War of Jenkins’ Ear at the time.
Unfortunately for Oglethorpe, the attack did not go well and he had to retreat to St. Simons Island. The Spanish tried to invade Georgia in 1742, but Oglethorpe and his men were able to defeat the Spanish forces. It was a great victory; it was the last time the Spanish tried to invade the colony of Georgia.
Did you know that not all of the colonists liked James Oglethorpe? Some of the colonists were very unhappy with the Georgia Trustees and their rules, especially the rules about slavery and land ownership. They did not think the colony was successful. They wrote that Oglethorpe was their “Perpetual Dictator.” They were being a little sarcastic, but they were genuinely upset because they did not vote for Oglethorpe. In fact, they didn’t have any local elected representatives.
colony: A colony is a group of people who settle in a new place but keep ties to their homeland. The people who founded the United States first came to America to live as part of a British colony.
dictator: A dictator is someone who has absolute power — or who at least behaves as if they do by bossing others around.
Georgia Trustees: a group of men appointed by the King to administer the Georgia Colony from 1732 to 1752.
negotiator: someone who negotiates (confers with others in order to reach a settlement)
Parliament: The most common meaning of parliament refers to a country’s legislative (law-making) body. England’s parliament is very famous.
perpetual: continuing forever or indefinitely
representatives: The US and many other democracies have representative governments, in which voters elect people to act on their behalf — to represent them.
The definitions on this list were taken from Vocabulary.com. Read a review of vocabulary.com on Sophia’s Schoolhouse.
Question 1: True or False? James Edward Oglethorpe was only one of twenty-one original Georgia Trustees. _________
Question 2: What was James Edward Oglethorpe’s official title in the new colony?
a. Chief negotiator
c. Georgia Trustee
d. Commander and Chief
Question 3: How did James Edward Oglethorpe help defend the Georgia Colony? _________
a. requesting money and soldiers from Parliament
b. leading soldiers against Spanish forces in Florida
c. All of the above
d. None of the above
Question 4: True or False? James Edward Oglethorpe had a bad relationship with Tomochichi. _________
Question 5: True or False? All of the colonists loved James Edward Oglethorpe? _________
*Scroll to bottom for answers.
Suggested Links and Readings:
Inscoe, John, ed. James Edward Oglethorpe: New Perspectives on His Life and Legacy. Savannah: Georgia Historical Society, 1997.
Jackson, Harvey H., and Phinizy Spalding, ed. Forty Years of Diversity: Essays on Colonial Georgia. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984.
List of Georgia Trustees. Designed by Brendan Crellin, Georgia Historical Society.
Landing at Savannah, in, A Comprehensive and Popular History of the United States: Embracing a Full Account of the Discovery and Settlement of the Country and Events Down to the Present Time, From the Georgia Historical Society Rare Collection, E178 .S834 1882.
Map Detail, Oglethorpe Meeting Indian Chief, 1733. From the Georgia Historical Society Map Collection, MS1361-MP215.
De Brahams Plans, in, The Spanish official account of the attack on the colony of Georgia, in America, and of its defeat on St. Simons Island by General James Oglethorpe. Georgia Historical Society Main Collection F281 .G35 vol. 7, pt. 3.
A View of the Town and Castle of St Augustine and the English Camp before June 20, 1740 by Tho Silver “Gentleman’s Magazine” (London, England : 1736), 1 AP4 .G32. From the Georgia Historical Serials Collection.
Map of St Simon and Frederica showing Bloody Marsh Battle, in, The Spanish official account of the attack on the colony of Georgia, in America, and of its defeat on St. Simons Island by General James Oglethorpe. Georgia Historical Society Main Collection F281 .G35 vol. 7, pt. 3.
*Video Quiz Answers
Question 1. True; Question 2. C; Question 3. C; Question 4. False; Question 5. False