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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

First Voyage to Savannah

Site of the filature where silk was produced
The first voyage of James Oglethorpe to Savannah carried indentured servants who had bound themselves over to the Trustees for specified periods of labour until the price of passage and subsistance had been worked out. At first, indentured servants received 25 acres of land of their own, irrespective of how much land their masters were granted, but later than was changed to 20 acres. Most trust servants were indentured for seven years. Also, it was generally true that a man in a family would come, working himself out of indenture, and then send for his family; but, it was also a fact that he allowed his wife to join him, also as a servant. One of the reasons for this was probably that he wanted to see what kind of conditions existed (if they were better than his homeland) before sending for his family. 

But the Trustees would only pay the expenses of the most industrious-type males, who were often recommended by members of the Nobility,e tc.), who would be good workers in the colony. Also, the Mother Country did not want vile, foolhearted men, and they would find out about the conduct of the settlers from their correspondants, James Oglethorpe, or from William Stephens. One instance, a woman, on her voyage to Savannah in 1734 slept naked between two men. Immediately upon arrival, this was reported and she was tied to cart and lashed sixty times, then paraded down Bull Street for everyone to see. Then made to promise good conduct. 

Vessels landed first at Purysburg and Charles Towne, South Carolina, where voyagers were told by Carolinians that Georgia was not a fit place to live, as well as other propaganda. South Carolina was definitely against Georgia settlement for a long while. Thomas Christie, Recorder at Savannah, in trying to get colonists shipped directly to Savannah, put it this way: 

"We raise the envy of the people of Carolina by whom we suffer many as persions and false reports, although we serve them for a bullwark against the indians, a curb to the negroes, raise the price of their markets and value of their lands and they get all our money in the bargain...with the advantage of their negroes, report that we need not sow any corn or rice, for they will always undersell us...I could wish the trustees would oblige all persons to whom they give grants, transport their persons and effects directly to this port." (Letter to James Oglethorpe from Thomas Christie dated at Savannah December 14, 1734). 

Thomas Christie was granted much land to place settlers and Count Zinzendorf was given lands for the Germans, but these settlements departed Georgia in 1741 when the people began disputing among themselves about high Quit Rents and lack of negroes in the colony. 

The first settlements were at Savannah, with protestants and Moravians, beginning in 1732, but there were people who also lived on Tybee Island. Nearly all of these persons were dead by September of 1735, however. 

Rev. Mr. George Whitefield engineered a land grant for a heavy Saltzburger (Germany) settlement at Ebernezer. From his first voyage, even persons died within a couple of months, but those remaining erected huts to live in until the first corn crops were in. This group was protestant, and were disinterested in his Majesty's dreams of silk propagation, nor of having slaves to raise cotton and grow rice. 

It was at Ebenezer that Mr. Orthman taught the principles of chriistian teaching, with John Martin Bolzius and Israel Christian Gronau as ministers. 

In November of 1733 others were landed at Ebenezer in the ship, "Prince of Wales", of Capt. George Dunbar, who wrote the Trustees his letter dated November 5, 1734: 

"Our voyage thither was detarded by a profound calme which continued from Thursday til this morning when I thank God we were favored with a faire wind and likely to continue. The indian king Quin and others are well and cheerful (remembering their English benefactors) except the Prince who is cold...but was much easier last night than any since he came on board. Messrs. Gordon and Vat manage the people with so much prudence and good...everything is as orderly as could be expected and I think myself extremely happy in both...."
Source: Colonial Records of Georgia by Jeannette Holland Austin

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