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In Their Own Words

January 30, 1742

Rum in Colonial Georgia

From the founding of Savannah, James Oglethorpe had believed that unlike beer and wine, rum was a particularly dangerous drink. He repeatedly reported to the Trustees back in London his belief that much of the illness and death suffered by the Georgia colonists was directly attributed to the drinking of rum. This belief was later shared by Georgia president William Stephens, who fought a seemingly endless, and ultimately fruitless, battle against rum in Georgia:

“…Divers other Persons who were presented for Misdemeanours, were also tryed, and found Guilty, among whom was one that retailed Spiritous Liquors, for which offence he was fined 5 pds. pursuant to the Act. If our Jurys hence forward would proceed in this way, certainly twould put a Stop to many great Evils, which we often find to be the Consequence of the Common People debauching themselves with Rum. …”

Source: E. Merton Coulter (ed.), The Journal of William Stephens, 1741-1743 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1959), p. 37.