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This Day in Georgia History

September 30, 1770

George Whitefield Died

To view an image of George Whitefield, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

Anglican minister George Whitefield [pronounced and sometimes spelled “Whitfield”] died in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Born in Gloucester, England on Dec. 16, 1714, he attended Oxford University. Just prior to graduating in 1736, Whitefield was ordained as a deacon in the Church of England. At the encouragement of friends John and Charles Wesley, Whitefield came to Georgia in 1738 and began preaching to colonists in Savannah. Three months later, he decided Georgia needed an orphanage so he returned to England to raise the necessary money. In 1739, Whitefield returned to America by way of Philadelphia, where he began preaching with a charismatic style not associated with the Church of England. From New England to South Carolina, Whitefield had a tremendous impact on audiences. In 1740, he gave up his Savannah ministry to reach a larger audience in America, though he did succeed with creation of the Bethesda Orphanage on 500 acres granted by the Trustees near Savannah. Though his religious impact extended far beyond Georgia to both sides of the Atlantic, Whitefield maintained his interest in Bethesda Orphanage until his death.