Establishing the Colony of Georgia

In 1733, General James Oglethorpe, acting on behalf of the Trustees for the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia in England, landed a group of colonists and settled the town of Savannah in the new colony of Georgia. Scroll down to learn more about Georgia during the colonial period.


Plan of Savannah

View of Savannah as it stood on 29th of March 1734, drawn by Peter Gordon Georgia Historical Society Map Collection, MS1361-MP

In 1733, General James Edward Oglethorpe laid out the plan of the city of Savannah based on a system of town wards, each containing building lots, trust lots, and a central square. By 1734, the first four squares were laid out. Over the next century, Savannah would continue to grow and expand to the east, west, and south extending the square system as it went. The unique plan gives downtown Savannah much of its appeal to visitors today. Similar designs were used in the laying out of Ebenezer (seen below in 1747) and Brunswick.

In March 1734, Peter Gordon, one of the colony’s original settlers, sketched the above view of Savannah looking south across the Savannah River at the settlement. When he returned to England, he was able to provide the colony’s Trustees with this descriptive map and other invaluable information concerning the settlement of the colony.


Colony of Georgia

Copy of the Georgia Trustee’s seal for the establishment of the Colony of Georgia. From the GHS Objects Collection, A1361-126b.

Copy of the Georgia Trustee’s seal for the establishment of the Colony of Georgia. From the GHS Objects Collection, A1361-126b.

In 1733, General James Oglethorpe, acting on behalf of the Trustees for the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia in England, landed a group of colonists and settled the town of Savannah in the new colony of Georgia. Georgia was established in part as an experiment, based on ideals lost in the other colonies’ growth, and to provide the mother country with raw goods. The southern location and warm climate of Georgia led many to believe it would be suitable for the cultivation of silk and fruits.

The seal used by the Trustees represented the colony’s role within the British Empire, as well as its emphasis on the production of silk. The seal, seen in the above sketch, incorporated a black mulberry leaf with a silkworm and cocoon (mulberry leaves were used to feed the silkworms in sericulture, the cultivation of silk). The motto inscribed is”Non sibi sed aliis,” Latin for “Not for themselves but for others.” The seal and motto are a symbol of Georgia’s role as a mercantile colony established to be the source of silk, not for their own benefit, but for England’s.


Plan of Ebenezer

Plan of Ebenezer, Georgia, drawn by Samuel Urlsperger, 1747 Georgia Historical Society Map Collection, #112 GCCL, from the Delores Boisfeuillet Collection

Plan of Ebenezer, Georgia,drawn by Samuel Urlsperger, 1747. From the Georgia Historical Society Map Collection, MS 1361MP.

The town of Ebenezer was settled by German-speaking Protestants called Salzburgers who were forced to leave Germany because of their religious beliefs. The first Salzburger settlement did not have good access to the Savannah River and the colonists suffered from diseases like malaria. At their second site, closer to the Savannah River, the Salzburgers still struggled with disease, but the isolated religious community managed to prosper and grow.


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