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1732 Two Hundred And Fifty Years Ago

July 2024
1min read

T HE LAST OF the English colonies in America—Georgia—comes into being on June 20. The circumstances of its birth are unusual; they symbolize the kind of moral regeneration the Old World hopes the New will provide. Some London philanthropists, led by James Oglethorpe, are concerned over the plight of honest men imprisoned for debt: where better than America to offer them a fresh start in life? His Majesty’s government grants a charter to these “trustees” to manage the colony without profit to themselves.

It is to be a model of virtue. No liquor and no slaves. Freedom of conscience for everyone except Catholics. Each man will be given a farm of fifty acres, which is nontransferable. But the settlers, although ready to cope with hostile Indians and Spaniards, find this mandated purity both unattractive and unenforceable. They discover ways of extending their holdings, slaves are imported, and the rum begins to flow freely. By 1754 the trustees have had enough and give up. Georgia becomes a royal colony.

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