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In Their Own Words

August 27, 1735

Letter Asked Trustees to Remove Ban on Slavery

In what would become a recurring plea, Georgia colonist Patrick Tailfer wrote the Trustees on behalf of himself and others outlining reasons why they should reverse their ban on slavery:

“We, all having land in your colony of Georgia and having come here chiefly with a design to settle upon and improve our land, find that it is next to an impossibility to do it without the use of Negroes. For in the first place, most part of our white servants not being used to so hot a climate can’t bear the scorching rays of the sun in the summer when they are at work in the woods, without falling into distempers which render them useless for almost one half of the year. Second, there is a great deal of difference betwixt the expense of white servants and Negroes, for Negroes can endure this climate almost without any clothes, only a cap, jacket and pair of trousers made of some coarse woollen stuff in the winter and one pair of shoes; where white men must be clothed as Europeans proportionable to the season all the year throughout. And then as to their diet, the charge of maintaining Negroes is much less than of white men, for the first live in good plight and health upon salt, Indian corn and potatoes which they raise themselves with no expense to the master but the seed and having nothing to drink but water; whereas white men must be fed with flesh meat, bread and other victuals suitable to the European diet which they have been used to and bred up with from their infancy, and must likewise have beer or other strong liquors in due quantities for their drink, otherwise they turn feeble and languid and are not capable to perform their work. Thirdly, there are a great many disadvantages attend the use of white servants here which do not Negroes, for we have white servants only for a short time, being generally indented for four or at most five years, one of which at least is lost by their frequent sickness … . Nay let us take all possible care we could, they would be continually stealing and embezzling our goods and, which is a worse consequence, forming plots and treasonable designs against the colony … . Another great disadvantage is their frequent running away which they have must more opportunity of doing than Negroes, for there is no law as yet made to take up people who are traveling, nor could it easily be distinguished whether they were servants or not; where Negroes would always be known and taken into custody unless they could produce a certificate from their master… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. I, pp. 225-226.