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In Their Own Words

October 17, 1738

Desperate State of Finances in Colonial Georgia

William Stephens wrote in his journal of the desperate state of finances in colonial Georgia, which would ultimately cause James Oglethorpe, referred to here as the General, to borrow heavily against his own property in England to keep the colony afloat:

“…The great Mismanagement of the Trust Funds sent for the Support of the Colony, now more and more appearing, upon enquiring into; the General called all the Inhabitants together at the Town- House, and there made a pathetick Speech to them, setting forth how deeply the Trust was become indebted, by Mr. Causton’s having run into so great Exceedings beyond what they had ordered, which debts the Trust had nothing left at present to discharge, besides what Goods and Effects they had in the Store, which must in a great Measure be applied to those Purposes, especially first to all such as the Stores were owing any Thing to, by which Means there would be a Necessity of retrenching the ordinary Issues, that something might remain for the necessary Support of Life, among the Industrious People, who were not to be blamed. This had such an Effect, that many People appeared thunder-struck, knowing not where it would end; neither could the most knowing determine it.”

Source: Allen D. Candler, ed. The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, Vol. IV, Stephens’ Journal 1737-1740, Atlanta, GA, 1906, p. 213.