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In Their Own Words

June 24, 1740

Agricultural Problems in Colonial Georgia

In his journal, the Salzburgers’ Lutheran minister Johann Martin Boltzius observed three reasons for the many complaints among English colonists about Georgia’s infertility and their inability to sustain themselves:

“… 1) the land was allotted to the colonists for planting according to a plan or sketch drawn up in England, hence most of them were supplied with very bad ground. They were not in a position to make it fertile with manure; and they either worked in vain or did no work from well-founded worry about working in vain, but rather applied themselves to other ways of making a living or left the region. If they had been allowed the freedom first to seek out the best land and earn their bread from it … the poor land could have been used by and by, and the colony would have soon gained strength and a good reputation. In this way, however, provisions from the store house were given for a few years, but in the end the people were not capable of supporting themselves.

“2) People were brought into the land who never held an axe or hoe in their hands in their entire life, much less did they bring the skill and strength and will to work the land. On the contrary they came here with the notion of living here comfortably and better, also doubtless of becoming richer and more prominent with less trouble than in Europe… .[T]hat type of life (i.e., agriculture) does not suit most of the people in this country. Hence they apply themselves to trade or become lazy, wasting what they brought with them or was given them for assistance… .

“Some people bring a few servants along or get them here in this country. However, these sometimes understand as little about field work as their masters; or, because they long for their freedom and are kept badly in food, clothes and work, they make a lot of mischief, run away, or have to be forced to do their work, or only pretend to do it. If a person has to buy his own servants, he cannot succeed because the crops a servant can draw from the land in a year are not worth nearly the cost of keeping him… .

“3) It causes great harm in the land when people on the plantations cannot choose neighbors with whom they get along but rather have to have the neighbors they are assigned. Hence a diligent worker gets a lazy neighbor, and as a consequence the diligent one gets no help building his fences… .”

Source: George Fenwick Jones and Don Savelle (trans. and ed.), Detailed Reports on the Salzburger Emigrants Who Settled in America … Edited by Samuel Urlsperger (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1983), Vol. 7, pp. 170-172.