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In Their Own Words

December 11, 1738

Malcontents Gathered Support

The Malcontents - the colonists opposed to the Trustees’ regulations concerning colonial Georgia - had written a letter to the Trustees and gathered many signatures on it, as noted by William Stephens in his journal:

“…The Representation which was carrying on, with Intent to be laid before the Trustees, was now the common Talk of the Town; and the surprizing Concurrence it met with from almost every Body, shewed plainly the Contents of it were what they had at Heart, though they had hitherto refrained from making such open Complaint: No less than seventy (as I was informed) had already signed it; and that without being asked, only as it was left open, at the House where it was wrote fair, viz. Mr. Williams’s; all who came voluntarily might sign it, if they liked it, or let it alone, if they pleased; so that it ran like Wild-fire, and seemed almost universal: All Attempts of reasoning upon it were either turned into Ridicule, by those who were most warm; or received by the most sober in such a Manner as to give a plain Indication, that they wer6 quite weary and out of heart in planting, at the Rate they had done for Years past; which had sufficiently demonstrated the Inability they were under, of supporting themselves and Families by cultivating Land on the Footing they had gone: So far were they from thinking the General would be offended at it, who was expected in Town before the 14th (the Day appointed for holding a Court of Claims) that some of them offered to lay a Wager with me, he would approve of it, and promote it: With such a Spirit was this Affair carried on, and such Confidence of Success, as perfectly amazed me: But the Consequence I feared. In the Evening I took Occasion to go and sit an Hour or two with some, who were well known to be the first Promoters of this Work, at a publick House, where there seldom failed to be a pretty full Meeting most Nights, and the Room being common, the Company was generally mixt, which made Conversation the less agreeable; wherefore I seldom frequented it, only sometimes a little out of Curiosity: And now I found them pretty much elated (as I expected) at the Readiness of so many to join with them in what they were doing: They were since the Morning advanced from the Number they then said they were to near ninety; and the People at Highgate had all signed it as soon as it was brought to them, and read in their Language. They were of various Opinions (I found) in what Manner to lay it before the General when he came, whether it would best be done by the whole collected Number, or by two or three deputed by the rest; and whether it would be proper to present it to him at his House, or rather in open Court, when he sat there: This Point I did not stay long enough to see determined among them, but took my Leave, and returned home…”

Source: Allen D. Candler, ed. The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, Vol. IV, Stephens’ Journal 1737-1740, Atlanta, GA, 1906, pp. 243-244.