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In Their Own Words

September 28, 1739

Oglethorpe Opposition to Slavery Recorded

Fear of a slave rebellion was a constant concern for whites in South Carolina - and one of the reasons for the Trustees’ policy of prohibiting blacks in Georgia. But, as the following journal entry of Johann Martin Boltzius indicates, James Oglethorpe’s opposition to slavery went deeper than that of his fellow Trustees:

“A man brought the news that the Negroes or Moorish slaves are not yet pacified but are roaming around in gangs in the Carolina forest and that ten of them had come as far as the border of this country just two days ago. In answer to the request of the inhabitants of Savannah to use Moorish slaves for their work, the Lord Trustees have given the simple negative answer that they will never permit a single Black to come into the country, for which they have sufficient grounds that aims at happiness of the subjects. Mr. Oglethorpe told us here that the misfortune of the Negro rebellion had begun on the day of the Lord, which these slaves must desecrate with work in other ways at the desire, command, and compulsion of their masters and that we could recognize a jus talionis [law of vengeance] in it.”

Source: George Fenwick Jones and Renate Wilson (ed. and trans.), Detailed Reports on the Salzburger Emigrants Who Settled in America … Edited by Samuel Urlsperger (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1981), Vol. 6, p. 226.