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In Their Own Words

March 27, 1737

Letter Expressed Fear of Slave Revolt

The three main reasons for the founding of Georgia - charity, defense, and economics - are generally well known. Also commonly understood is the fact that slavery was not allowed in the new colony. Less recognized was a particular interest South Carolina had in the founding of a new British colony without slaves to its south. Spain had a policy of encouraging South Carolina slaves to escape to freedom in Florida. There, just north of St. Augustine, was a growing contingent of blacks who had joined the Spanish Army, and Carolinians feared it was only a matter of time until these former slaves marched north to lead a slave rebellion. Thus, a Georgia without blacks would make it harder for Carolina slaves to escape south and would help protect South Carolina from a Spanish invasion and from a slave revolt inspired from Florida. Documenting this concern was a letter from Andrew Rutledge of South Carolina read to the Trustees and recorded in the journal of the Earl of Egmont on Mar. 27, 1737 as follows:

“That there is reason to believe the Spaniards views are not confin’d to Georgia, but extend to Carolina, where they have neither Forts nor Castles worth mentioning to Secure their Stores, provisions, Women & children in, But must leave them exposed to a more dreadful Enemy than the Spaniards, viz. their Slaves, to whom the Spaniards are to give them their freedom, and I am jealous that Some of them know it.”

Source: Robert G. McPherson, The Journal of The Earl of Egmont: Abstract of the Trustees Proceedings for Establishing the Colony of Georgia, 1732-1738 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1962), pp. 249-50.