Province of Georgia

The Province of Georgia (also Georgia Colony) was one of the Southern colonies in British America. It was the last of the thirteen original American colonies established by Great Britain in what later became the United States. In the original grant, a narrow strip of the province extended to the Mississippi River.

The colony's corporate charter was granted to General James Oglethorpe on April 21, 1732, by George II, for whom the colony was named. The charter was finalized by the King's privy council on June 9, 1732. Oglethorpe envisioned a colony which would serve as a haven for debtors. General Oglethorpe imposed very strict laws that many colonists disagreed with, such as the banning of alcohol. Oglethorpe disagreed with slavery and thought a system of smallholdings more appropriate than the large plantations common in the colonies to the north. However, land grants were not as large as most colonists would have preferred. Oglethorpe envisioned the province as a location for the resettlement of English debtors and "the worthy poor". Another motivation for the founding of the colony was as a "buffer state" (border), or "garrison province" that would defend the southern part of the British colonies from Spanish Florida. Oglethorpe imagined a province populated by "sturdy farmers" that could guard the border; because of this, the colony's charter prohibited slavery.


Oglethorpe, accompanied by the second settlers, arrived on February 13, 1732, at Yamacraw Bluff, in what is now Savannah, and established a camp with the help of a local elderly Indian chief, Tomochichi. A Yamacraw Indian village had occupied the site, but Oglethorpe arranged for the Indians to move. The day is still celebrated as Georgia Day. One plan had called for Georgia to be created to be a safe home for debtors. However, this purpose was never fulfilled and 240 men, women, and children were selected to become the original colonists.

The original charter specified the colony as being between the Savannah and Altamaha Rivers, up to their headwaters (the headwaters of the Altamaha are on the Ocmulgee River), and then extending westward "sea to sea." The area within the charter had previously been part of the original grant of the Province of Carolina, which was closely linked to Georgia.


The Privy Council approved the establishment charter on June 9, 1732, and for the next two decades the council of trustees governed the province, with the aid of annual subsidies from Parliament. However, after many difficulties and the departure of Oglethorpe, the trustees proved unable to manage the proprietary colony, and on June 23, 1752, they submitted a deed of reconveyance to the crown, one year before the expiration of the charter. On January 7, 1755, Georgia officially ceased to be a proprietary colony and became a crown colony.

From 1732 until 1758, the minor civil divisions were districts and towns. In 1758, the Province of Georgia was divided into eight parishes, and another four parishes were partitioned in 1765; in 1777, the original eight counties of the State of Georgia were created.

In practice, settlement in the colony was limited to the near vicinity of the Savannah River. The western area of the colony remained under the control of the Creek Indian Confederation until after the American Revolutionary War.

In the beginning, the colony had a sluggish start. James Oglethorpe did not allow liquor, and colonists who came at the trustees' expense were not allowed to own more than 50 acres (0.20 km2) of land for their farm in addition to a 60 foot by 90 foot plot in town. Those who paid their own way could bring 10 indentured servants and would receive 500 acres of land. Additional land could neither be acquired nor sold.

Discontent grew in the colony because of these restrictions, and so Oglethorpe lifted the restrictions. With slavery, liquor, and land acquisition the colony improved much faster. Slavery had been permitted from 1749. There was some internal opposition, particularly from Scottish settlers, but by the time of the War of Independence, Georgia was much like the rest of the South.

On April 24, 1802, Georgia ceded to Congress parts of its western territories. These became the Mississippi Territory and later (with other adjoining lands) the states of Alabama and Mississippi.

See also

  • Georgia cracker
  • History of Georgia (U.S. state)
  • List of colonial governors of Georgia
  • Oglethorpe Plan
  • Thirteen Colonies


Further reading

  • Coleman, Kenneth (1976). Colonial Georgia: A History. Scribner. ISBN 0-684-14555-3. 
  • Hawke, David F. (1966). The Colonial Experience. Bobbs-Merrill Company. ISBN 0-02-351830-8. 

External links

  • LOC: Establishing the Georgia Colony 1732â€"1750
  • Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia: Georgia History
  • Sir John Percival papers, also called: The Egmont Papers, 1732â€"1745. University of Georgia Hargrett Library.
  • Diary of Viscount Percival afterwards first Earl of Egmont. University of Georgia Hargrett Library.
  • Charter of Georgia from the Avalon Project
  • Royal Charter for the Colony of Georgia, 09 June 1732 from the collection of the Georgia Archives.
  • Original Grantees of the Colony of Georgia, 21 December 1733 from the collection of the Georgia Archives.

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