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In Their Own Words

July 19, 1740

Letter Petitioned for Slavery in Georgia

From Ebenezer, Johann Martin Boltzius recorded in his journal an effort to get the Salzburgers to support allowing slavery in the colony of Georgia:

“Today I received a letter from England, which had been enclosed in a letter to a Jew in Savannah. It comes from one N. [Thomas Stephens], who supposedly is the son of one Colonel N. [William Stephens] in S. the thrust of the entire letter was to persuade me and the Salzburgers to petition the Trustees for permission to keep black slaves, because the Trustees are supposed to be almost inclined to it by now. It would not turn well, he wrote, and it would even be harmful to us if there were Negroes in Savannah and Purysburg but not in Ebenezer. The writer claimed that it was not possible to live in Georgia without Negroes, and, even though we said it, that was not enough; we had to make it as plain and clear as two times two. I believe the man learned the the congregation had petitioned General Oglethorpe as well as the Trustees some time ago not to allowed Negroes to come into our region because the harm from it was obvious. In what distress would this colony now be, if such unreliable folk were in the country? People in Carolina were now already in great anxiety on account of the Negroes, especially if the war does not have a favorable outcome.

“Kieffer from Purysburg and a Frenchman, almost directly across from us in Carolina, each have such a black man. They are said to have been secretly at our place a few times and to have stolen all kinds of things, although the broad Savannah River is between us and them. I also believe that no Christian can buy such a black in good conscience, since it is known how such things usually come to pass; for they are snatched away from their own country and brought here, although people seek to paint the matter in favorable colors.”

Source: George Fenwick Jones and Don Savelle (ed. and trans.), Detailed Reports on the Salzburger Emigrants Who Settled in America … Edited by Samuel Urlsperger (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1983), Vol. VII, pp. 194-195.