The trustees named three goals in establishing the Colony of Georgia: to give the deserving poor a chance, to bring trade and wealth to the Crown, and defend the Carolinas from the Spanish.
James Oglethorpe was the third son of English nobleman, who could have lived out his life with ease and excess. Instead, his focus and concern for the common man led him to a life of service.
After serving in the army, Oglethorpe moved to his family’s estate and reestablished himself in the community. He ran, and was elected by one vote, to the House of Commons in 1722. Oglethorpe became part of the committee charged with investigating debtors’ prisons. The prisons had been investigated before – but no reform had come about. Oglethorpe vowed to change this by investigating them himself and taking the committee to the prisons for them to see the terrible conditions. His work led to the 1730 Debtors Act, which provided rights to debtors.
However, Oglethorpe is best known for settling Georgia. There were various reasons why the emigrants that came with him fled the continent, some religious freedom, some fiscal freedom, others for a chance at building a new life. They all knew it would be hard, incredible backbreaking work – that some would die, that others would flee, but there was the chance that some would flourish. They were not given a guarantee of equal outcome, of equal education or even of universal healthcare. They were offered a chance – and that was all that they required.
Oglethorpe first established a treaty with the Creek Indians to settle Savannah. Next Oglethorpe worked towards establishing a defense on the southern end of the Colony to protect against the Spanish. Fort Frederica and Fort St. Simons were established on St. Simons Island and built into a community of over 1,000 people.
Oglethorpe’s influence led to the prohibition of rum, brandy, and other distilled spirits, as well as the prohibition of the importation of slaves into the Georgia Colony. He was personally involved in building Fort Frederica, often working by the side of the colonist to build buildings.
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