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In Their Own Words

November 01, 1737

Stephens Encountered Malcontent Early

William Stephens served as Trustees’ secretary, then later as President of the colony of Georgia from 1737-1750. In this role, he was often in conflict with the Malcontents - the group of colonists opposed to the Trustees’ regulations - particularly the ban on slavery in colonial Georgia. It did not take long for him to be aware of the conflict - one of the Malcontents approached him the evening of his first arrival in Savannah, as he noted in his journal:

“…In the Evening, upon spending a leisure Hour with Mess. Causton, Christie and Anderson at a publick House, Mr. Robert Williams came in to us, and at first Sight began to lay open his Mind pretty freely concerning What difficulties the Landholders lay under, as well with respect to the Want of Negroes, as the Tenure of Tail Male, vehemently exclaiming against the Method they were now in, and declaring that is was his Resolution, as it was also of many others, to leave the Colony, unless some remedy could be found, before they were quite ruined. I endeavored to persuade him into better Temper, told him, that if he or any others thought themselves aggrieved in any Thing, their wisest course would be to represent it in a decent manner to the Trustees…”

Source: Allen D. Candler, ed. The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, Vol. IV, Stephens’ Journal 1737-1740, Atlanta, GA, 1906, pp. 11-12.