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In Their Own Words

April 09, 1738

Servants Drunk on Rum

One of the problems that plagued early colonial Georgia was the easy availability and frequent drinking of rum. Though legally banned in the colony, rum even found its way into the household of Trustees secretary William Stephens, as he described in his journal entry for this day:

“The first Thing I discovered soon after I rose, was two of my Servants drunk; one of which had been taken up in the Night, and kept upon Guard till morning; but no farther Mischief being done, he was discharged, and sent Home. It was a constant Rule given them to observe, that at the End of the Week they should all come Home, by which I should see what Necessaries in their Clothing, or otherwise, might be wanting; after which they were to return again, taking such Things with them of all Kinds, as would serve them the Week ensuing. These two fellows, it seems, had watched my going to Bed last Night; after which they slipped out into the Town, from a back House where they lodged; and well knowing where to meet Comrades to their Liking, they played their Parts with them over Rum as long as they were able. It was to no Purpose to talk with them at present: But I resolved to make what Scrutiny I possibly could into this dark Work, to-morrow, before the Magistrates, when possibly we might discover something worth our Enquiry, concerning the Sellers of that Liquor, whose number increased daily… .”

Source: William Stephens, A Journal of the Proceeding in Georgia ([no city cited]: Readex Microprint Corporation, 1966), Vol. I, pp. 167-168.