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In Their Own Words

December 13, 1738

Whitefield Reported to Trustees

Anglican minister George Whitefield was in England to complete the requirements for ordination as a priest. On this day, he met with the Georgia Trustees and told of conditions back in the colony, as recorded by the Earl of Egmont in his diary:

“Then Mr. Whitfeild, lately arrived from Georgia in order to take priest’s orders and then return, was called in; he acquainted us briefly with the state of the Colony, which did not give us entire satisfaction, for he told us the people are many of them lewd, drinkers of rum in spite of our law against it, even to the killing themselves, and generally very lazy; that most of them alleged the cause of their not improving the lands granted to them was the barrenness thereof, and the not allowing females to inherit, and that the disappointment of last year’s crop by the want of rain had discouraged many who are industrious. That many who had servants of their own lived by hiring them out to others, the profit of whose labour they took to themselves and had spent, neglecting to employ them on their lands, and when the servants’ time is out, these men must leave the Colony for want of means to hire new ones, their lands, as has been said, being untilled and waste. And that the servants themselves, when free, do leave the Colony, though they have a title to lands, because they have not any money to cultivate those lands oar ability to hire servants, without whose help they are not able singly to do it.

“That, nevertheless, some are industrious, and very many religiously disposed, he having had at Savannah crowded churches, and at morning and evening prayers near two hundred persons. That the children’s schools are well frequented and carefully conducted by the schoolmasters; that at his arrival in Savannah he told Mr. Causton, our chief magistrate, that was resolved not to intermeddle at all in civil affairs, upon which Mr. Causton said, then he would not intermeddle in ecclesiastical affairs. That he was very fond of his duty there and the people loved him, and he would return again, in case certain propositions delivered by him in writing were complied with by the Trustees, otherwise that would remain in England, where he hoped to be able to do more good than he could do in Georgia unless those conditions were complied with. He then told us of the admirable harmony, industry, neatness and piety of the Saltsburgers at Ebenezer… .”

Source: Source: U.K. Historical Manuscripts Commission, Diary of the First Earl of Egmont (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1923), Vol. II, p. 512.