Timeline: Georgia as an English Colony 1732-1775
This section of GeorgiaInfo correlates with Georgia Performance Standard SS8H2
King George II issued Georgia’s first official charter.
Georgia’s Trustees held their organizational meeting and elected John Percival, Earl of Egmont, as president.
Georgia’s Trustees decided that the new colony’s first settlement would be located on the Savannah River and would be named Savannah.
James Oglethorpe and 114 colonists departed England aboard the Anne.
James Oglethorpe and a party of settlers crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the ship Anne to begin settlement of the colony of Georgia. They first arrived off the coast of Carolina, then negotiated permission to settle from Yamacraw Chief Tomochichi. Acting as interpreters were John Musgrove, who had a trading post in the area, and his wife Mary Musgrove, who was part Yamacraw. The settlers then entered the mouth of the Savannah River, finally disembarking at Yamacraw Bluff on February 12 - now known as Georgia Day. The settlement they founded was named Savannah. Note: despite Oglethorpe’s hopes to establish Georgia as a haven for debtors; reality prevented it (the settlers were chosen for their skills). None of the original settlers aboard the Anne were debtors, and few ever settled in Georgia. See This Day in Georgia History for February 1, 1733.
Soon after settlement, James Oglethorpe took Tomochichi on a visit to Charles Town, SC with him; his positive reception there helped lead Oglethorpe to make the decision to take Tomochichi and a group of Yamacraws to England the following year.
On July 11, a group of 42 Jewish settlers arrived in Georgia. The Trustees had earlier decided not to allow Jews in the colony, but James Oglethorpe allowed them to land - largely because one of them was a doctor - Samuel Nunes. While there was some controversy amongst the Trustees regarding the new settlers, they were ultimately allowed to remain in Georgia.
An agreement was reached between the Lower Creek Indians and the Georgia colonists, containing “Articles of Friendship and Commerce between the Trustees for Establishing the Colony of Georgia in America and the Chief Men of the nation of the Lower Creeks.” This was the first Treaty of Savannah; there would be another one later in the colonial period.
A group of German Salzburgers arrived in the colony of Georgia. They were led by Pastor Johann Martin Boltzius, and established the settlement of Ebenezer. James Oglethorpe took Tomochichi, his wife, nephew (and his successor), and a group of five Yamacraw warriors to England.
John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley sailed from England for Georgia, Charles to serve as secretary to James Oglethorpe, while John was to be a minister to the Georgia colonists. John Wesley’s time in Georgia was an unhappy one, as he wished to be a missionary to the Indians, plus he fell in love with a young woman who chose to marry another man.
Future signer of the Declaration of Independence Button Gwinnett was born in England.
John Musgrove, an Indian trader who had helped translate for James Oglethorpe on his first meetings with the Indians, died near Savannah.
A group of Moravian Church colonists arrived in Georgia.
Alice Riley was hanged in Savannah for participating in a murder, making her the first woman to be executed in Georgia - here is a story of her “crime,” punishment, and how her ghost is reported to still haunt the place where she was hanged.
James Oglethorpe and over 200 new colonists departed England for Georgia, with instructions to build a fort on St. Simons Island.
A group of Scot Highlanders sailed from Inverness, Scotland bound for Georgia. They would settle on the Altamaha River, where they founded New Inverness, later named Darien.
Fort Frederica was built on St. Simons Island.
The Scot Highlanders who had sailed the previous year arrived in Georgia.
After the building of Frederica, James Oglethorpe returned to England to report to the Georgia Trustees in person.
James Oglethorpe arrived in England in January to attempt to get money and men from Parliament for the defense of Georgia at Fort Frederica. He was successful in gaining funds and 600 soldiers, and while in England was named “Colonel of the Regiment of Foot for the Defence of His Majesty’s Plantations in America.” He sailed back to Georgia in July.
The Georgia Trustees named William Stephens secretary for the colony.
Construction began on a fort north of Savannah where the fall line crossed the Savannah River. It was called Fort Augusta.
John Wesley and his brother Charles departed Georgia permanently. John’s stay in Georgia had been an unhappy one, but he would later experience a spiritual rebirth and found the Methodist movement. Soon after Wesley’s departure, George Whitefield was commissioned by the Trustees to serve as minister to Georgia, although he would not be officially approved until the following year.
In January of this year, George Whitefield sailed from England to replace John Wesley as minister to the Georgia colonists. He would not be officially approved by the trustees until May 10, but was so eager to begin his duties that he sailed months earlier, arriving in Georgia May 7. Traveling with Whitefield was James Habersham, who would become one of colonial Georgia’s leading citizens. Soon after Whitefield’s arrival, he visited Tomochichi - once on May 16 (no one was there to speak English and interpret), then again on May 20.
In England, the Princess of Wales gave birth to a son, who would become King George III, from whom the American colonists would declare their independence in 1776.
James Oglethorpe and Creek chiefs signed the Treaty of Coweta Town at Coweta on the Chattahoochee River. The treaty confirmed - but more clearly defined - the Creeks’ earlier Treaty of Savannah (signed in 1733), identifying areas open to British settlement.
The War of Jenkins’ Ear, between England and Spain, was officially declared; several conflicts between the combatants would take place in colonial Georgia.
James Oglethorpe led an invasion force of Georgia and South Carolina settlers, and some Indians, to attempt to capture Spanish St. Augustine. They captured one fort, then tried to lay siege to St. Augustine before being attacked at Fort Mose, where he lost a significant number of his men. He subsequently returned to St. Simons Island.
In April, the Georgia Trustees divided the colony into two counties - Savannah, consisting of all settlements on the Ogeechee River north to the Savannah River - and Frederica, consisting of all the land south of the county of Savannah. William Stephens, previously secretary to the Trustees, was named President of the county of Savannah.
In October, Stephens met with his four assistants to officially assume the duties assigned to him by the Trustees in April.
While it was not made official, it was assumed that James Oglethorpe would be president of the county of Frederica, but the Trustees wanted to consult with him first. Plus, he was busy coordinating the defense of Georgia during the war with Spain.
The major Georgia-related event of the war with Spain occured on July 7 - the Battle of Bloody Marsh - where James Oglethorpe and a group of men, largely Scot Highlanders, repulsed an attempted invasion of St. Simons Island by Spanish forces from St. Augustine.
Future southern Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene was born in Rhode Island on August 7.
Another attempt to capture Spanish St. Augustine failed, then later in the year another Spanish attempt to invade St. Simons Island was repulsed. For his efforts in defending Georgia, James Oglethorpe was promoted to brigadier general.
On July 23, 1743 James Oglethorpe left Georgia. He had borrowed heavily against his family estate to help fund the new colony, and needed to see to his finances at home. He may not have realized it at the time, but he would not return to the colony he founded and supported in it’s first decade of existence.
James Oglethorpe arrived in London on September 28.
Future Georgia Revolutionary leader and governor David Emanuel was born in Pennsylvania. (The exact date of his birth in unknown, but it was likely sometime in 1743).
The colony of Georgia struggled to find a viable, money making crop over the next few years, and gradually declined under the leadership of the Trustees.
James Habersham established Georgia’s first commercial house, for the purpose of shipping raw materials to England.
John Houstoun, future revolutionary leader, governor, and chief justice of Georgia, was born.
Francis Moore published an account of the settling of Frederica, which included a description of early Georgia wildlife - see Related Articles.
While the colony of Georgia still continued to struggle as a whole, some of the non-English settlers were doing relatively well agriculturally.
In March, James Oglethorpe (in England) was promoted to major general in the British army, based largely on his exploits in keeping the Spanish from successfully invading Georgia.
William Stephens met with Mary Musgrove and her new husband Thomas Bosomworth, to assure that she would be recompensed for her service to the colony (see 1733). There would be trouble between the colonists and this couple later regarding this situation.
James Habersham, Jr. was born. He would be a revolutionary leader, two time Speaker of the Georgia General Assembly, and serve on the Board of Trustees to establish the University of Georgia.
The colony continued its struggles and decline during the latter part of the Trustee period.
John Treutlen, who would become Georgia’s first state governor, arrived in Georgia at Frederica.
George Whitefield wrote an account of the Orphan House at Bethesda, in which he gave Charles Wesley and James Oglethorpe equal credit for its inception and construction. See March 21, 1746 In Their Own Words entry.
Mary Musgrove and her then husband John has translated for James Oglethorpe and the English colonists when they first settled Savannah in 1733. John Musgrove had since died; Mary’s new husband - Thomas Bosomworth - did not think she had been sufficiently reimbursed for her service. In 1747 the couple came to Savannah several times, claiming ownership of large parts of the colony, including Savannah. Eventually, she was granted ownership of Ossabaw, St. Catherines, and Sapelo Islands by the local Creek Indians - lands that would be ceded back to Georgia by a 1757 treaty.
Casimir Pulaski, future Revolutionary War hero, was born in Poland. He would be mortally wounded in a 1779 attack on British forces occupying Savannah.
John Percival, the Earl of Egmont, member of and chronicler of the Georgia Board of Trustees in England, died.
England and Spain signed the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle which ended the War of Jenkins’ Ear, but left the Georgia/Florida boundary to be settled at some unspecified future date.
William Few, Jr., future Revolutionary War leader, delegate to the Continental Congress, Georgia and national legislator and federal judge, was born in Maryland.
George Walton, one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Virginia in either later 1749 or early 1750.
The move to allow slavery into Georgia gained steam, with the Georgia Trustees ultimately petitioning the British government to abolish the prohibition against slavery. It would not be approved until the following year.
With the war with Spain over, the army regiment at Frederica was disbanded.
James Oglethorpe, increasingly disillusioned by the Trustees’ willingness to allow slavery into Georgia and make other unwanted (by him) changes, attended his final meeting of the Georgia Trustees.
William Stephens resigned as president of the Georgia colony; Henry Parker had been named vice-president.
The prohibition on slavery in Georgia was abolished, though it would not officially go into effect until Jan. 1, 1751.
Future Revolutionary War colonel and Georgia governor Jared Irwin was born in North Carolina.
Future Revolutionary War general and Indian fighter John Twiggs was born in Maryland.
A group of Puritans from Massachusetts established the settlement of Midway.
Slavery was officially allowed in Georgia as of Jan. 1, 1751.
A Provincial Assemby convened in Savannah; it had only an advisory capacity.
Henry Parker was appointed president of Georgia.
The first silk house in America opened in Savannah.
The Georgia Trustees appointed a committee to prepare the surrender of the Georgia charter to the British government.
The first muster of the Georgia colonial militia was called.
Future Revolutionary War leader, speaker of the Georgia General Assembly, mayor of Savannah, and U.S. Postmaster General Joseph Habersham was born.
Jonathan Bryan moved to Georgia from South Carolina. He had been heavily involved in Georgia since the first settlement, even accompanying James Oglethorpe on his original expedition to find a place to settle in 1733.
George Handley, future governor of Georgia, was born in England.
William Stephens - long time president of the colony of Georgia - died on his plantation near Savannah.
James Gunn, future U.S. Senator from Georgia, was born in Virginia.
Georgia’s charter was scheduled to expire on June 9, 1753, but the Georgia Trustees had surrendered it a year earlier.
John Reynolds was appointed as Georgia’s first royal governor.
The French and Indian War (as it was called in America) began with skirmishes between American (led by George Washington) and French forces on the Virginia frontier. This war was called the Seven Years’ War in Europe, and was not officially declared until 1756, but the fighting started in 1754. This war and its aftermath would have a noticeable effect on Georgia’s borders, and relations with the Indians.
Abraham Baldwin was born in Connecticut. He served Georgia at the 1787 Constitutional Convention and was a leader on the Board of Trustees that established the University of Georgia.
Benjamin Hawkins, future Indian agent on the Georgia frontier, was born.
John Habersham, Revolutionary leader and member of the 1785 Continental Congress, was born.
Georgia’s new General Assembly, under royal government, convened for the first time - in Savannah. It consisted of an elected Commons House of Assembly and an appointed Upper House of Assembly.
One of the Assembly’s first acts was to provide that all males in the colony between the ages of 16 and 60 (with a few exclusions) be formed into militia companies and regiments organized according to the towns and districts where they lived. In addition, they were to be required to spend up to twelve days each year working on local roads.
Georgia’s first slave code was enacted.
The Battle of Taliwa, between Cherokee and Creek Indians, was fought. The Cherokees won a decisive victory forcing the Creeks to retreat permanently south of the Chattahoochee River.
John Reynolds had been appointed as royal governor - Georgia’s first - in 1754. But he was frequently at odds with the General Assembly, and did not get along with many colonists. This led to a number of complaints about him with the British government. In 1756 he was recalled to England to respond to the complaints, though he did not yet resign his position.
Henry Ellis was appointed lieutenant governor in August of this year; he would assume the governing duties when Reynolds was recalled.
Britain officially declared war on France, beginning the Seven Years’ War (called the French and Indian War in America, where skirmishing had actually begun two years earlier). See this In Their Own Words entry for an indication on how poorly prepared Georgia was for war at this time.
Henry Ellis became acting governor of Georgia.
Future Georgia governor John Milledge was born in Savannah.
Future Revolutionary war leader and Georgia politician James Jackson was born in England.
The Commons House of Assembly passed an act encouraging the immigration of debtors to Georgia.
The Creek Indians signed the Treaty of Savannah, which confirmed previous treaties, and also ceded to Georgia three islands - St. Catherines, Ossabaw, and Sapelo - as well as their reserve above Savannah. However the Creeks had ceded these islands to Mary Musgrove ten years earlier (see 1747), and it would be three years before a court in London would resolve the rival claims.
Revolutionary War hero Gilbert Motier de Lafayette was born in France.
Georgia was divided into eight parishes: Christ Church, St. Matthews, St. George, St. Paul, St. Philip, St. John, St. Andrew, and St. James.
Future Revolutionary-era politician John Wereat settled in Georgia.
Future Revolutionary war leader and Georgia politician John Berrien was born in New Jersey.
Georgia offered 2100 pounds to Mary Musgrove in exchange for her claims to Ossabaw and Sapelo Islands.
See this letter excerpt for an indication of how difficult communication could be in colonial Georgia.
James Wright was appointed lieutenant governor of Georgia in May, sailed for the colony and reached Savannah in October. Henry Ellis, though much more popular with Georgians than previous governor - John Reynolds - had been, was unhappy in Georgia, primarily because of the excessive heat. He left Georgia two days after Wright’s arrival, making Wright the acting governor. Wright would become royal governor upon Ellis’s resignation the following year.
King George II died, leaving the throne to his grandson, King George III, against whom the American colonies would rebel sixteen years later.
James Wright was appointed royal governor of Georgia upon the resignation of Henry Ellis. Wright had been acting governor since Ellis’s departure from Georgia in November of the previous year. Wright was the final, and the most able, of Georgia’s royal governors.
Henry Mitchell, future Georgia military leader and politician, was born in Virginia.
The Georgia General Assembly passed a law requiring church attendance and prohibiting (with a few exclusions) any other travel on Sundays.
Future Georgia governor Matthew Talbot was born.
The Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War. Great Britain had went heavily into debt to finance the war, and still needed money to provide for the defense of the American colonies. To help raise this money and alleviate the debt, they began looking at ways to tax the colonies; this was the beginning of the unrest that would ultimately lead to the American Revolution.
The first issue of Georgia’s first newspaper was published; it was called the Georgia Gazette.
King George III issued the Proclamation of 1763, which expanded (though it did not precisely set) Georgia’s southern boundary.
Creek Indians ceded the land between the Altamaha River and St. Marys River to Georgia.
The Sugar Act of 1764 was passed by the British Parliament, the first attempt at raising revenue from the colonies to help pay off the debt incurred during the French and Indian War.
Future War of 1812 leader David Blackshear was born in North Carolina.
Future Georgia governor Josiah Tattnall was born near Savannah.
The British Parliament passed the Stamp Act. Reaction to it in the colonies was very negative.
Four new parishes were created out of the land between the Altamaha River and St. Marys River.
Future signer of the Declaration of Independence Button Gwinnett came to Georgia.
Cotton gin inventor Eli Whitney was born in Massachusetts.
A British official charged with administering the Stamp Act arrived in Georgia. He was escorted under armed guard to the governor’s house, but he left after two weeks. Georgia was the only colony in which any revenue was collected from the Stamp Act, when merchants agreed to pay the tax because the Savannah harbor was clogged with more than sixty ships. Royal governor James Wright wrote a letter to the British Board of Trade regarding the difficulties involved with the Stamp Act (see Related GeorgiaInfo items).
The Stamp Act was repealed in February, though word did not reach Georgia until July.
Future Georgia governor Edward Telfair came to Georgia from Scotland.
Future Georgia governor John Clark was born in North Carolina.
Future Georgia governor David Byrdie Mitchell was born in Scotland.
Though the Stamp Act had been repealed the previous year, the British still needed revenue to pay off their war debt and to provide for the defense of the colonies. Thus the Townshend Acts - a series of taxes on items such as glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea - were approved by Parliament.
Georgians began taking notable sides in the conflict with the British government. Those opposed to the policies of the British were called Whigs, or Patriots. Those who supported the British were called Tories, or Loyalists.
Further dispute between the colonists and the royal government eventually led to royal governor James Wright dissolving the General Assembly.
Benjamin Franklin was appointed as Georgia’s colonial agent; his duty being “to represent, solicit, and transact the affairs of this province in Great Britain.”
In the ongoing dispute over the taxation of the colonies, some Georgia merchants began boycotting the importation of British manufactured goods.
Future signer of the Declaration of Independence George Walton moved to Savannah.
Future prominent Georgia clergyman Jesse Mercer was born in North Carolina.
Future Georgia militia leader and politician John Floyd was born.
George Whitefield, who had been a minister to Georgia from 1738 to the early 1740s before moving on to become one of the leading clergymen of the Great Awakening movement, died. He had founded an orphan house in Savannah, and continued to maintain an interest in it up until his death.
A harsh slave code was passed, declaring (among other items) that children of slaves were also slaves and the personal property of their owners; slaves could be whipped for traveling outside a town or plantation without special permission, and anyone teaching a slave to read and write would face a heavy fine.
Noted educator and future president of the University of Georgia Moses Waddel was born in North Carolina.
Future Georgia governor William Rabun was born in North Carolina.
Future Cherokee Indian leader Major Ridge was born.
Trouble continued to develop between those opposed to the policies of Great Britain (Patriots) and those still loyal to it (Loyalists). This was particularly apparent in this year, as the Commons House of Assembly elected radical patriot Noble Wymberly Jones speaker three times, only to have the election rejected by acting governor James Habersham. Finally, the House switched to Archibald Bulloch as speaker, but refused to expunge from the record the fact that Jones had been elected three times, so Habersham dissolved the assembly. See “In Their Own Words” entries for March 12, April 30, and September 13 to see how Habersham expressed the problems he was having dealing with the Patriots.
Future Georgia Senator, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and presidential candidate William H. Crawford was born in Virginia.
Royal governor James Wright returned to Georgia from England.
The Treaty of Augusta, in which the Creeks and Cherokees ceded lands that would eventually become Wilkes County, was signed.
The Tea Act was passed by Parliament. This act created a monopoly on selling tea in the colonies for the British East India Company, bypassing colonial merchants. Resistance to the Tea Act would eventually lead to the Boston Tea Party.
Future Georgia governor Peter Early was born in Virginia.
Sequoyah was likely born this year (precise date unknown) in what would become the Cherokee Nation area of Georgia. He devised the Cherokee Syllabary - a set of written symbols and characters that represented spoken syllables in the Cherokee language.
Trouble continued brewing between the American colonies and Great Britain. After the Boston Tea Party, Parliament passed a number of measures called the Coercive Acts, but referred to by colonials as the Intolerable Acts. They were designed primarily to punish Boston, but also included a provision that the colonies had to provide housing for British soldiers. This measure in particular, as well as the others, were opposed by many of the colonists, not just those in Massachusetts.
Royal governor James Wright prohibited any unlawful assembly to oppose British policy. Despite this prohibition a group of Georgia Patriots assembled at Tondee’s Tavern in Savannah five days later and adopted a series of eight resolutions opposing British policies (see Related GeorgiaInfo items).
The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia; Georgians were still very divided in their Patriot/Loyalist feelings, and faced danger from Indian attacks on its border, so the need for British soldiers was still considerable. Thus, Georgia was the only one of the thirteen colonies to not send delegates. The Congress voted to adopt a boycott of all trade with Great Britain. Before adjourning, they agreed to reconvene if necessary.
The Georgia Commons House of Assembly passed an act to prohibit the murder of free Indians, and to punish those who did (see Related GeorgiaInfo items).
Patriot delegates attended Georgia’s first provincial congress to discuss options for opposing the Intolerable Acts passed by Parliament the previous year. They urged the Commons House of Assembly (also in session) to adopt strong resolutions. Noble Wimberly Jones, Archibald Bulloch, and John Houstoun were elected as delegates to attend the Second Continental Congress.
In April the Battles of Lexington and Concord took place in Massachusetts. When news of the battles reached Georgia in May, patriot celebrations broke out and the royal powder magazine was raided; 600 pounds of gunpowder was seized. In June Georgia sent 63 barrels of rice and £122 for the relief of Boston after British reprisals following the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
Opposition to royal rule continued to build in June. Georgia Patriots spiked cannon in Savannah to prevent them from being fired for the king’s birthday. A Liberty Pole and Liberty Tree were erected in Savannah, where more than 300 Patriots had gathered. Finally they voted to join the other twelve colonies in a boycott of British goods and to set up a Council of Safety in Savannah to enforce the boycott. Some Loyalists received some rough treatment from the Patriots (see Testimony of Savannah Loyalist John Hopkins in Related GeorgiaInfo items).
In July a second Georgia provincial congress met in Savannah. Archibald Bulloch was elected president and George Walton as secretary. Lyman Hall and John J. Zubly were added as delegates to the Second Continental Congress. The congress sent a letter to royal governor James Wright stating that Georgia would not be the weak link among American colonies in opposition to British policies.
In September Georgia’s delegation sat with the Second Continental Congress. Among other actions taken, the Congress sent a petition - called the Olive Branch Petition - to the king asking for redress of their grievances. The king refused to accept it and declared the colonies in rebellion. Parliament passed the Prohibitory Bill, which prohibited all British trade with the thirteen American colonies in rebellion.
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