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In Their Own Words

January 16, 1739

Ogethorpe Opposed to Slavery

From Fort Frederica, James Oglethorpe wrote the other Trustees in London about the Malcontents’ continuing plea to allow slavery in the colony of Georgia. Oglethorpe had philosophical beliefs against slavery, but his letter stressed practical reasons in opposing slavery:

“… And indeed, if Negroes could be allowed, this colony must be immediately destroyed, for it would be impossible to prevent them deserting to the Spaniards, our near neighbours who give freedom, land and protection to all runaway Negroes.

“Besides which, all the lands in the colony will be very soon in that Negro merchant’s hands who furnishes them.

“They would pretend that there might be some limitation in numbers [of slaves]. But limitations cannot be put in practice, as experience has proved in other countries.

“And wherever Negroes are, though never so few, the white men grow idle. And I believe the idleness of the town of Savannah is chiefly owning to their seeing the Negroes in Carolina … .

“The people of Darien have petitioned against Negroes, and I heard that the people of Frederica intend to do the same… . “

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. II, p. 388.