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Dec December

In Their Own Words

December 05, 1738

Malcontents Stirred Up Unrest

The colonists at Darien had expressed their unhappiness the previous day; on this day the Malcontents in Savannah took up the same complaints, as noted by William Stephens in his journal:

“…The same Subject of Discourse, which Yesterday was whispered about, now became the publick and common Talk of every Body; which nevertheless found more or less Credit, in Proportion to the good or ill Disposition of such as heard it: For through Prejudice among too many. Truth was not always easy to come at: From what I had observed however for awhile past, it was sufficiently apparent to me, that under the same Calamity, which bore very hard upon several Families, hitherto unblameable, uncommon Pains were taken by some whose Talent lay that Way, to aggravate their Misfortunes, and possess them with a Belief never to expect to see better Things in Georgia, till they could make it worth their Pains and Expence to go on in cultivating Lands, for which End some Expedient ought to be found (as they alledged) or the Colony would be deserted in a short Time. The chief Propagators of such Talk were at this Time (I knew from one of the principal Men among them, whom I had enquired of upon a Jealousy I had conceived of it, and he freely owned that they were) forming a Representation of divers Grievances, which they resolved to send to the Trustees; wherein among other Things, they should clearly demonstrate, that no Person could carry on any Improvement of Land here upon the Footing we now were, without certain Loss; and the greater Labour and Cost he was at, the more certain was his Ruin. I then asked the same Person, whether or not they would proceed to do that, without first applying to General Oglethorpe, who was now in the Country; and was answered, that they intended to acquaint him with it. From all these Circumstances, I was fully persuaded in myself to believe, that the whole Affair was concerted among them, and that if it proved true, that Darien led up the Dance, there were not wanting others elsewhere, who were ready to fall in with them. At the same Time such Encouragement is given, and even Invitation by our good Neighbours of Carolina to all who appear uneasy here, that it is to be feared too many may be tempted to make Experiment what better Fare they may find in that Province: Such at present was the dark Appearance of Affairs among us, whilst the General continued in the South; but being expelled among us again soon, it was much wished that his Presence might have such Influence, as to reduce People to a better Way of thinking.”

Source: Allen D. Candler, ed. The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, Vol. IV, Stephens’ Journal 1737-1740, Atlanta, GA, 1906, pp. 239-241.