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In Their Own Words

February 10, 1733

Oglethorpe Letter to Trustees

From the new settlement at Yamacraw Bluff now known as Savannah, James Oglethorpe wrote the Trustees back in London:

“I gave you an account in my last of our arrival at Charles Town. The Governour and Assembly have given us all possible encouragement. Our people arrived at Beaufort on the 20th of January, where I lodged them in some new barracks built for the soldiers whilst I went myself to view the Savannah River. I fixed upon a healthy situation about ten miles from the sea. The river there forms a half moon, along the South side of which the banks are about 40 foot high and upon a top a flat which they call a bluff. The plain high ground extends into the country five or six miles and along the riverside about a mile. Ships that draw twelve foot water can ride within ten yards of the bank. Upon the riverside in the center of this plain, I have laid out the town. Over against it is an island [Hutchinson Island] of very rich land fit for pasturage, which I think should be kept for the Trustees’ cattle. The river is pretty wide, the water fresh. And from the quay of the town you see its whole course to the sea with the Island of Tybee, which forms the mouth of the river; and the other way you may see the river for about six miles up into the country. The landscape is very agreeable, the stream being wide and bordered with high woods on both sides. The whole people arrived on the first of February. At night their tents were got up. ‘Till the 7th we were taken up in unloading and making a crane, which I even then could not get finished so took off the hands and set some of the fortification and begun to fell the woods. I marked out the town and common. Half of the former is already cleared, and the first house was begun yesterday in the afternoon. Not being able to get Negroes, I have taken ten of the Independent Company to work for us, for which I make them an allowance… .Mr. Whitaker has given us one hundred of cattle. Colonel Bull, Mr. Barlow, Mr. Julian and Mr. Woodward are come up to assist us with some of their own servants. Our people are all alive, but ten are ill with the bloody flux, which I take to proceed from the cold and their not being accustomed to lie in tents. I am so taken up in looking after a hundred necessary things that I write now short but shall give you a more particular account hereafter. A little Indian Nation, the only one within fifty miles, is not only at amity but desire to be subject of the Trustees, to have land given them and to breed their children at our schools. Their chief and his beloved man, who is the second man in the Nation, desire to be instructed in the Christian religion.”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. I, pp. 4-5.