« PreviousContinue »
Charles Wallace Howard, an agent of the state, "to repair to London, for the purpose of procuring the colonial records, or copies thereof, now in the colonial departments of Great Britain, that relate to the history and settlement of this state." By the further liberality of the same body, the papers, which were the result of his mission, are placed in our library, subject, however, to its future decision.
These documents fill twenty-two large folio volumes, averaging over two hundred closely written pages each. Fifteen are from the office of the Board of Trade; six from the State Paper Office, and one from the King's Library. The first four from the Board of Trade contain numerous fetters on various topics connected with the affairs of the colony, from the Rev. John Martin Bolzius, William Spencer, Major Horton, James Habersham, William Stephens, Samnel Urlsperger, C. de Munch, General Oglethorpe, Thomas Bosomworth, Benjamin Martyn, Noble Jones, John Reynolds, Slc. Depositions of Indian traders; memorials to the Board of Trade, and to the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts; orders of council, &,c. &.c. The succeeding eight, are filled with orders of the lords justices in council; proclamations by the same. Proceedings of the president and assistants in Georgia; accounts of the produce of Georgia; addresses and proclamations of Governor Reynolds; schedule of public despatches; treaties with the Indians, together with the correspondence of Pat Graham, Ottelonghe, Benjamin Martyn, Joseph Habersham, Governor Ellis and Governor Wright. The thirteenth and fourteenth, are composed of orders in council, correspondence of Governor Wright with General Gage, the Board of Trade, Earl of Hillsborough, Earl Shelburne; papers in relation to the silk culture; extracts from the journals of council in Georgia; talk with Indian tribes, and orders of the king in council at the court of St. James. The minutes of the house of assembly in 1780, occupy the last and fifteenth volume from this source. The first date of papers in this division is 1746, and a regular chronological order is preserved to 1780.
The six volumes obtained from the "State Paper Office"
are exceedingly rich in historical intelligence, derived from a
great variety of sources. They contain large portions of the
correspondence of Oglethorpe with many different persons,
b his transactions with the Governor of St. Augustine, papers and depositions relating to Spanish settlements, treaties with the Spanish authorities —journals and letters descriptive of the siege of St. Augustine, the affair at Musa, the Spanish invasion of Georgia, and all the difficulties with these enemies of the colony. They contain also the minutes and memorials of the Trustees, journals of the upper and lower houses of Assembly, messages from and petitions to the Governor, correspondence of Martyn, Harman Verelst, Governor Wright, the Earl of Dartmouth, Duke of Bedford, Earl of Hilsborough, Alex. Heron, James Habersham, and closes with an abstract of proceedings in 1775. This portion of the records dates back from 1735, but there is a hiatus from the year 1750 to 1760 inclusive.
The twenty-second volume, derived from papers in the King's Library, contains first "A general description of Georgia, climate, productions, Indians, &,c.," Governor Wright's letter to the Lords of Trade, Governor Wright's letter to the Earl of Shelburn, and lastly the Governor's answers at length to the queries of the Lords of Trade, which very fully and minutely detail all the principal facts relating to the Province. Such is a very cursory survey of the matter embraced in these invaluable records. They constitute an almost exhaustless mine, where not a shaft has been sunk, to recover its treasures, and give them the form and connection of History.
Next perhaps in value to these colonial documents, are several volumes of the original journal and correspondence, both private and official, of James Habersharn; commencing as early as 1739, and continued with some intermissions down to the Revolution. Seldom has a richer collection of letters been found; they are in themselves an inestimable legacy, containing the fervent effusions of a pious heart, the sentiments of an intelligent and judicious mind, the experience of a man of business, the advice and counsel of high official station, and the glowing enthusiasm of the sincere patriot. In those dark and troublous times consequent on the illjudged measures of the Trustees, when ruin and despair brooded over the colony, he remained by her the firm friend, the able counsellor, the effective agent, to heal the wounds they had unwittingly made, and raise the settlement to that eminence which it had been the hope and desire of its friends that it should attain. His letters during that period, portray in a graphic manner the distress and misery of the people; they shew him superior to the sordid and self-aggrandizing views which marked the conduct of many of its summer and sunshine friends; and they prove him to have been the bold and fearless advocate of the half depopulated and sinking province, when there were none to sustain her rights or truly exhibit her manifold grievances. A large number of the letters in one volume, and several in others, are written to his friend the eloquent Whitefield. On the establishment of the Georgia Orphan House by Mr. Whitefield, Mr. Habersham became its President, and his correspondence from Bethesda, detailing their operations from time to time, are particularly valuable, both as they relate to that celebrated divine, and to the first charitable institution founded in bur borders.
In relation to the department of Indian History, a department so interesting in itself, and so intimately blended with the early settlement of this State; the Society has obtained some very rare and valuable manuscripts. These contain long and minute accounts of the manners and customs of the Indians. Proceedings of Indian agents, and treaties with several tribes, all greatly augmenting the materials of aboriginal history. Such in brief, (together with the usual amount of information to be gathered from the archives of the State) -are some of the materials which the future historian of Georgia will have at his command. They are rich, abundant, satisfactory. In whatever light we view our beloved State, whether as a colony planted by the benefactions of the philanthropist; as a frontier settlement, exposed to the horrors of Spanish and Indian invasion; as the youngest of the old confederacy, and yet among the first to proclaim her rights, and demand redress; or as burdened, harassed, and almost eradicated by the war of the Revolution; she deserves a historian who shall do honor to her name, who shall justly exalt her character, who shall proclaim her deeds of valor, and who, finding the graves of her heroes, as Cicero found the tomb of Archimedes, "septum vepribus et dumetis," shall clear away the weeds and brambles, and retouch, like Old Mortality, the half-defaced memorials of their worth, so that future generations may read of their self-sacrificing devotion for the benefit of their country..
The Georgia Historical Society is yet in the infancy of its being. It has not seen one annual revolution. But the spirit which animates its members is one of enlightened zeal and persevering labor. It comes in as auxiliary to the many similar associations already existing; and offers this, its first tribute, to the general object. It is laboring in a distinct field for our common country, and aims to enrich American literature, by treasuring up, and publishing the memorials of this important member of the Union.
We trust that the efforts which have resulted in this volume, will be rightly appreciated, and hope to be enabled to follow it with others, which shall be equally valuable, in elucidating the past, and rendering permanent the fleeting memorials of Colonial History.
JUDGE LAW'S ORATION BEFORE THE GEORGIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY,
February 12, 1840. *
When the great historic Poet of the Greeks derived his heroes from the gods, and ascribed their constant guidance and protection to some ethereal deity; when he sang of the renowned exploits of their ancestors combatting and vanquishing the fabled Centaurs, "rude dwellers on the mountain heights," f he ministered to a taste and sentiment of his countrymen natural to the human heart, and common to the human family. Prompted by pride and vanity all nations have desired to increase the lustre of their origin, and the fame of their ancestry, by filling the "immense vacuity," which lies beyond the limits of well authenticated memorials, with the splendid inventions of fable. We delight to honor the memories and celebrate the virtues of our Forefathers. The existence of this inherent principle is attested and illustrated by universal example. To gratify its indulgence, the boundaries of truth have been exceeded, and the mysteries of obscure antiquity penetrated. To heighten its
"The Georgia Historical Society was not organized until Tuesday, the 4th of June, 1S39. But the 13th of February, the day on which Oglethorpe landed in Georgia, has been selected as a more appropriate period for its anniversary.
The indulgence in extensive details, which characterizes the following sheets, miy strike the public taste and judgment as unsuitable to a public address. The writer has been betrayed into this error, if so it be conceived, from an anxious desire to awaken an interest for his subject, and excite a spirit of research and inquiry into the events and incidents of our colonial history, by reviving the remembrance of fict* almost lost sight of.
The older books furnishing sketches of the early history of Georgia are exceedingly rare, and are accessible only to a few; even McCalrs History has not been republished; and is becoming scarce and not very generally read. It was supposed, too, that in this introductory address the public curiosity would be most gratified, and the expectations of the Association best fulfilled, by the course adopted.
1 Cowper's Homer.