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In Their Own Words

September 03, 1734

Unhappy Doctor Wrote to Trustees

One of Georgia’s colonists was Isaac Clarke, a doctor who had agreed to practice medicine in Savannah for a year if the Trustees would provide him a house. Apparently, Clarke thought that he would be Savannah’s only doctor, which should allow him to support himself from patient fees. With James Oglethorpe in England, Thomas Causton was in charge of Savannah, and Clarke was very upset over Causton’s treatment of him, as evidenced by this letter from Clarke to the Trustees written on this day:

“I am obliged to attend the guard upon all occasions, to mount guard, to do day duty, to relieve guard &c. And those days I am upon duty, there are so many complaints made against me to Mr. Causton (for not attending the sick) that it is intolerable.

“It was agreed that a house should be built for my attendance on the sick for one whole year, and every since I have been here I have been in a hut which is so exposed that I have nothing left but what is rotten and spoiled. I have mentioned the building several times to Mr. Causton, whose answer was generally this, or the like effect, viz. We have so many things to be done for the public that it can’t be gone about, or that he expects sawyers from Charles Town and then he will see what is to be done. Ever since my arrival here, either myself, wife or servant have been ill. According to a moderate estimate, with what monies I have received and the injuries I have sustained, £280 this currency will not excuse me.

“… Here is no less than seven or eight professors to physick, all which assume a prerogative very much to my detriment without any contradiction from Mr. Causton… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. I, pp. 49-50.