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In Their Own Words

June 15, 1738

Letter Expressed Farming Difficulty

From Georgia, Hugh Anderson wrote to Adam Anderson in England a about the problems he and many other Georgians were experiencing in trying to support themselves:

“It is some months since I removed from town all my family to such accommodation as I could provide for them in the country and have applied myself with the greatest diligence to improve my little farm. I have cut down, cleared, fenced and planted ten acres of corn, peas and potatoes and four acres of rice, beside some garden ground, nurseries, cotton, tobacco &c. in small quantities for experiments… .

“As to what return my improvements may make this season, I will not allow myself to complain, though my corn shares the general fate of the province, of suffering extremely by the drought of the summer, and that I can never expect to balance the expense they have cost me. To write of any unlucky divisions or parties among us is a point too ticklish for a private person.

“The land here, Sir, is not so fruitful by far as represented at home. The high grounds [are] extreme sandy and loose, and the action of the sun so powerful that the strength and substance of the strongest mixtures and manures are soon exhausted, and noting but an insipid Caput mortuum of it remains, so that a person who with great expense and trouble has cleared five, ten or a greater number of acres, enclosed and planted them, the first year the brush springing up from the roots deprive the ground of its strength and the grain of its nourishment; if he plants early, the corn is the more exposed to the weevil and other worms and insects and, if late, to drought, and in three years without proper manure and enriching is exhausted. Nay, want of air and shade of surrounding trees are equally pernicious to the corn as want of moisture. Add to this destruction by deer, who cannot be fenced against, and a long etcetera of other accidents.”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 19909), Vol. II, pp. 338-340.