Episode 013: Get to Know James Edward Oglethorpe Part 1, 1696-1717

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Video Guide

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Video Script:

Maybe you’ve heard that James Edward Oglethorpe helped found the colony of Georgia – but what do you really know about him?

James Oglethorpe was born on December 22, 1696, in London, England. His family was wealthy and had lots of important friends. His parents were Eleanor and Theophilus.

He was the youngest of ten children born in his family. Did you know that Oglethorpe’s father died when he was only six-years-old?

Did you know that Oglethorpe’s mother and father were Jacobites? The Jacobites supported James the II and his family – the Stuarts. In 1688 the English Parliament forced James II to leave England and his daughter Mary II and her Husband William of Orange became the new English monarchs. This is known as the Glorious Revolution. The Jacobites were not happy with the Glorious Revolution; they wanted James II to return from exile as King of England and Scotland.

It’s a little complicated, but it is important to know that Oglethorpe’s family were Jacobites and he sometimes had to work very hard to convince people that he was not a Jacobite himself and that he supported the current monarchy. It was treason to not support your king.

When James Oglethorpe turned seventeen he went to Corpus Christi College at Oxford. Oglethorpe left his college before graduating to help defend Europe against the Ottoman Empire.

He may not have stayed at Oxford long, but did you know that Oglethorpe could read and speak Latin? Oglethorpe loved to read classical literature and could quote Roman poetry from memory in his eighties! His ideas about how the Georgia colony should be run had a lot to do with what he learned and read about ancient Greece and Rome while at Corpus Christi College.

Oglethorpe left Oxford and went to military school in Paris before joining the army of the Holy Roman Empire to fight against the Turks. Oglethorpe was a military assistant to the famous Prince Eugene of Savoy and participated in the Siege of Belgrade in 1717.


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.

exile: If you are exiled from a place, you must leave and not return. Such punishment is called exile. For example, after he was removed from power, Napoleon lived in exile on the island of Elba.

Holy Roman Empire: a political entity in Europe that began with the papal coronation of Otto I as the first emperor in 962 and lasted until 1806 when it was dissolved by Napoleon

Jacobite: a supporter of James II after he was overthrown or a supporter of the Stuarts

monarchy: A  monarchy is a country that is ruled by a monarch, and monarchy is this system or form of government.

Ottoman Empire: a Turkish sultanate of southwestern Asia and northeastern Africa and southeastern Europe; created by the Ottoman Turks in the 13th century and lasted until the end of World War I; although initially small it expanded until it superseded the Byzantine Empire

Parliament: The most common meaning of parliament refers to a country’s legislative (law-making) body. England’s parliament is very famous.

siege: Your city is under siege if it is surrounded on all sides by an opposing force on attack. Think of a castle surrounded by a legion of armed knights.

Treason: The word is typically used to refer to the betrayal of a government or a country, like when a spy shares national secrets with another country, but it can be used to refer to personal betrayals as well.

The definitions on this list were taken from Vocabulary.com. Read a review of vocabulary.com on Sophia’s Schoolhouse.

Video Quiz:

Question 1: True or False? James Edward Oglethorpe’s family was wealthy and had important friends. _________

Question 2: Where was James Edward Oglethorpe born? _________
a. Georgia
b. England
c. South Carolina
d. Holy Roman Empire

Question 3: Why is it important to remember that James Edward Oglethorpe’s family were Jacobites? _________
a. because the Jacobites founded the colony of Georgia
b. because Oglethorpe had to convince people that he was not a Jacobite and supported the monarchy.
c. because the Jacobites defeated the Turks at the Siege of Belgrade.

Question 4: True or False? Oglethorpe left Corpus Christi at Oxford because he did not like to read. _________

Question 5: True or False? Oglethorpe participated in the Siege of Belgrade? _________

*Scroll to bottom for answers.

Suggested Links and Readings:


James Edward Oglethorpe Featured Historical Figure Pages

Three Centuries of Georgia History Online Exhibit: 18th Century

Today in Georgia History June 30, 1785 “James Oglethorpe Died.”

Jackson, Edwin L. “James Oglethorpe (1696-1785).” New Georgia Encyclopedia.

BBC History “The Jacobite Cause” by Louise Yeoman

The National Archives of the United Kingdom “Jacobite Rebellion of 1715.”

Suggested Readings:
Spalding, Phinizy. “Myths and the Man: James Edward Oglethorpe.” The Georgia Review 28, no. 1 (Spring 1974): 52-57.

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.

Image Credits

Stamp Commemorating the Bicentennial of the Settlement of Georgia, 1733 – 1933, with a portrait of General Oglethorpe, 1933. From the Georgia Historical Society Objects Collection, A-1361-532.

A Chart of the Atlantic Ocean, 1775, in, The West-India atlas, or, A compendious description of the West-Indies,G1600 .J4 1775. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

King James by Sir Godfrey Kneller, BT. Oil on Canvas, 1684. © National Portrait Gallery, London. NPG 666.

Queen Mary II by Jan Verkolje. Oil on Canvas, 1685. © National Portrait Gallery, London. NPG 606.

King William III by unknown artist. Oil on Canvas, circa 1690. © National Portrait Gallery, London. NPG 4153.

Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, 1688, in, Corpus Christi College (University of Cambridge) by Stokes, H. P.

Elderly James Oglethorpe, lithograph, in, Biographical memorials of James Oglethorpe : founder of the colony of Georgia in North America by Thaddeus Mason Harris. From the Georgia Historical Society Rare Collection, F289 .O34 1841.

Portrait of James Edward Oglethorpe at Belgrade in 1718 by R. W. Habersham. From the Georgia Historical Society Objects Collection, A-1361-327.

Map of Turkey, Arabia, and Persia by Guillaume de L’Isle and John Senex, 1721. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Prince Eugene in the Battle of Belgrade 1717 by a contemporary painter (ca. 1720). Oil on canvas, Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, Vienna, Austria.

*Video Quiz Answers
Question 1. True; Question 2. England; Question 3. B; Question 4. False; Question 5. True