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In Their Own Words

November 15, 1733

Unexpected Expenses, Short Stay Planned for Oglethorpe

Nine months after arriving with Georgia’s first colonists, James Oglethorpe wrote the Trustees about unanticipated expenses he was facing during the colony’s first year. Oglethorpe also revealed the fact that he did not plan a lengthy stay in Georgia:

“I am now making up of all the accounts, in some parts of which I find a great deal of perplexity … . The expenses have been very largely increased by the raising of prices of provisions in Carolina occasioned partly by our demand and partly by the failure of this year’[s crop. Besides, I was obliged for encouraging of the people to pay them for building the Storehouse &c. as also (several of our people being disabled by sickness) to take in people of this country for opening of communications, sending messages by land and water, giving gratifications for fetching intelligence among the Spaniards, giving rewards for taking of thieves and runaways. I shall be obliged to draw for farther sums to pay the Negroes who were employed upon my first coming here for sawing. The maintenance of the garden as a nursery for mulberry trees, orange trees, vines &c. at Charles Town has also an article of large expense, but which I believe you will think very well bestowed, since a sample of thorough fine silk has been there made which shows what may be done in this country. And we have gained one year’s growth upon the mulberry and orange trees which is inestimable in a new settlement. I think everything here is now so well settled that I can leave it without danger of the colony’s miscarrying. As I doubt not to see you soon and perhaps before this letter I shall say no more but that I am, Gentlemen, &c.”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), p. 26.