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Carolina was within their limits. Weary of these encroach. ments, the Carolinians themselves favored the scheme of a barrier colony, which should serve as a defence against their troublesome neighbours in Florida, and a check upon the savages.
Oglethorpe, if not the first mover of this enterprise, was one of the most ardent and resolute of its promoters. Twenty-one associates, gentlemen of rank, wealth, and influence, petitioned the throne for an act of incorporation. This was granted, and a charter for a new colony was obtained, dated June 9th, 1732, which, in compliment to the king, was called Georgia. Among the objects of the petitioners, recited in the preamble, are the following. “ Many of his Majesty's poor subjects are, through misfortunes and want of employment, reduced to great necessity, insomuch as by their labor they are not able to provide a maintenance for themselves and families; and if they had means to defray their charges of passage, and other expenses incident to new settlements, they would be glad to settle in any of his provinces in America; and by cultivating the lands, at present waste and desolate, they might not only gain a comfortable subsistence for themselves and families, but also strengthen the colonies, and increase the trade, navigation, and wealth of his Majesty's realms." The names of twenty-one trustees, among whom was Oglethorpe, were inserted in the Charter. At their own request, they and their successors were restrained from receiving any salary, fee, perquisite, or profit, either as managers of the general affairs of the colony, or for any services they might bestow. All the powers of government were entrusted to them, including legislation, judicial regulations, and military defence, for the period of twenty-one years, after which the government of the colony was to devolve upon
the crown. There is no example of a colony having been founded on principles more honorable to its projectors.
It being the first design of the trustees to afford an asylum for indigent persons, who could not themselves pay the charges of emigration, or furnish the means of support on their arrival in the colony, a fund was raised for these purposes by subscription. Individuals in various parts of the kingdom contributed liberally. Parliament made a grant of ten thousand pounds. The money was deposited in the Bank of England. Public notice was then given by the trustees, that they were ready to receive applications from such destitute persons as were disposed to emigrate to Georgia. Their passage was to be paid ; they were to receive lands when they arrived, and provisions till they should have tiine to cul. tivate their lands; and they were to be provided with farming tools and other utensils suited to their wants in a new country. The prisons were searched for insolvent debtors, who could procure a relief from their creditors. In every instance the trustees took special care to ascertain the character and circumstances of the applicants, that none might be admitted except such as gave a fair promise of becoining sober, honest, and industrious citizens.
By the charter Georgia was included between the Savannah and Altamaha rivers, and between two direct lines running from the heads of these rivers westwardly to the “ south seas." At so late a date, when the geography of this part of the continent was well known, it is remarkable that such a boundary should have been assigned, especially as it carried the limits of Georgia beyond the recognized possessions of the French on the Mississippi and of the Spaniards still further west. The tenure by which the settlers held their lands was peculiar. Fifty acres only were granted to any one person, a certain portion of which was to be cultivated within a given time under the penalty of forfeiture. No person could sell or otherwise alienate his lands without a special licence from the trustees. Male issue only could inherit, and, in default of such, the lands reverted to the trust. As the colony was designed to be a military barrier, it was deemed requisite that every settler, who held lands, should be a soldier. This was the reason for the last provision. To encourage industry and thrift, it was thought equally necessary that each individual should be confined 10 a particular portion of land, and be compelled to cultivate it. Men of substance, who chose to emigrate to Georgia, might purchase lands, but in no larger quantity than five hundred acres for any individual; and this the purchaser was obliged to cultivate within a specified time. Some of these conditions were looked upon as hardships by the settlers, and they were afterwards modified.
At length thirty-five families embarked from England, with Oglethorpe at their head, to seek their fortunes in the new colony. “ In pursuance of the benevolent designs of
the trustees, Oglethorpe engaged in this expedition entirely at bis own expense, furnished his own cabin-fare on board, and was constantly attentive, during the whole voyage, to the situation and comfort of the passengers.” He was appointed by the trustees to be the governor of the colony. They arrived in Charleston on the 13th of January, 1733, where they were received with every mark of respect and kindness by the civil authorities and the inhabitants. The ship was conducted into the harbour of Port Royal, where the emigrants disembarked. Oglethorpe proceeded forward, accompanied by Colonel Bull of South Carolina, and selected a spot for a town on a bluff near Yamacraw, which he called Savannah, from the Indian name of the river which flowed along its margin. He then returned for his people, and landed them all safely at their place of destination on the 1st of February. Here they pitched their tents.
A town was marked out, and they immediately commenced the work of erecting houses, and making such preparations for protection and comfort as their circumstances required. They received prompt and valuable assistance from their neighbours. Colonel Bull brought with him four laborers. Others were sent from Carolina, skilled in selling trees, and preparing plantations. Provisions were likewise supplied; and all without charge.
In a letter dated at Charleston, seven weeks after the first landing of the settlers, the writer speaks as follows. “ Mr. Oglethorpe is indefatigable, and takes a great deal of pains. His fare is indifferent, having little else at present but salt provisions. He is extremely well beloved by all the people. The general title they give him is Father. If any of them are sick, he immediately visits them, and takes a great deal of care of them. If any difference arises, he is the person that decides it. Two happened while I was there, and in my presence; and all the parties went away, to outward appearance, satisfied and contented with his determination. He keeps a strict discipline. I never saw one of his people drunk, nor heard one of them swear, all the time I was there. He does not allow them rum; but in lieu gives them English beer. It is surprising to see how cheerful the men go to work, considering they have not been bred to it.
There are no idlers here. Even the boys and girls do their part.” Already land had been ploughed, and wheat sown. Two or three gardens had also been planted with divers seeds of vegetables, shrubs, and trees, for the common benefit of the sellers. A palisade to enclose the town was begun.
Oglethorpe wisely regarded it as a matter of the first importance to be on good terms with the aborigines. A small tribe dwelt near Savannah, at the head of whom was Tomo Chichi, a venerable personage, past the age of fourscore. Years had added wisdom to a mind naturally strong, and experience had softened in his character the rough features of the savage warrior.
He was disposed to be the friend of the white man, and he met Oglethorpe's advances in a temper of peace and amity. Following ihe example of Penn, the founder of Georgia sought to secure a title to his lands from those, who held it by the best of all titles, possession from time immemorial. By the aid of an interpreter he accordingly made a treaty with Tomo Chicbi. But the old man had the sincerity to tell him, that his dominions were small, and that there were others, more powerful than bimself, to whom the territory chiefly belonged. Tomo Chichi undertook to be a mediator between Oglethorpe and the chiefs of the Creek Nation, and sent messengers to invite them to a conference at Savannah. In a few weeks a deputation from the Lower Creeks appeared there, chiefs and warriors to the number of about fifty. They represented eight tribes into which the confederacy of the Lower Creeks was divided. After the usual forms, Oglethorpe explained to them the motives that had brought him to America, and expressed his desire to obtain a cession of a part of their territory, to live in peace with them, and to enter into a treaty of friendship and trade. Ouechachumpa, “a very tall old man,” replied in the name of the deputies. He yielded to the white men the palm of superiority over the red, and " was persuaded that the Great Spirit, who dwelt above and all around, had sent the English thither for the good of the natives," and finally concluded with the generous offer of all the lands, which the Creeks did not want for themselves. Eight buck-skins, one for each tribe, laid at Oglethorpe's feet, served to confirm his words.
The other chiefs signified their assent in short speeches. Nor was Tomo Chichi an idle spectator. His speech on the occasion may be taken as a fair specimen of Indian elo
quence. “When these white men came," said he, “I feared that they would drive us away, for we were weak; but they promised not to molest us. We wanted corn and other things, and they have given us supplies; and now, of our small means, we make them presents in return. Here is a buffalo skin, adorned with the head and feathers of an eagle. The eagle signifies speed, and the buffalo strength. The English are swist as the eagle, and strong as the buffalo. Like the eagle they flew hither over great waters; and like the buffalo nothing can withstand them. But the feathers of the eagle are soft, and signify kindness; and the skin of the buffalo is covering, and signifies protection. Let these, then, remind them to be kind, and to protect us.”
The treaty ended by a most liberal grant of lands, on the north between Savannah and Ogechee rivers, and along the seacoast to the head of tide-water as far as the Altamaha; with all the islands except three, which the Indians reserved for hunting and fishing. They also retained a little tract near Yamacraw bluff, “ as an encampment, when they should come to visit their beloved friends in that vicinity.” Oglethorpe took care not to be outdone by his guests in the value and variety of his presents. The treaty was sent to England, and confirmed by the trustees.
Meantime the emigrants advanced prosperously in their labors at Savannah. They worked in common, drawing their supplies from the public stores, which had been furnished by the trustees. At the end of five months they had erected twenty-one houses, and made other improvements. The town was then divided into wards, and a house-lot was assigned to each freeholder. Municipal regulations were established, and the town assumed the aspect of a thriving and well-ordered community.
Oglethorpe's thoughts were turned to the protection, as well as to the internal prosperity of his colony. Forty miles from Savannah, on the banks of the Ogechee, he constructed a fort, which he put under the command of Captain McPherson, with a small detachment of rangers. This he called Fort Argyle, in compliment to his friend the Duke of that name. He made an excursion among the islands in a row-boat to the mouth of the Altamaha, and on his way back ascended the Ogechee as far as the fort; thus acquiring a knowledge of the geography and resources of the country VOL. LIII. NO. 113.