Page images
PDF
EPUB

INTRODUCTION.

In presenting the second volume of its Collections to the public, the Georgia Historical Society cannot but express their satisfaction at the favorable reception which was given to its first volume, and indulge the hope, that the present will equal in interest the one which preceded it.

The former volume presented but one view of the infant settlement of Georgia. It held up a picture, drawn by the projectors and friends of the colony, in which they set forth, with high eulogium, its value and prospective benefit, and thus engaged for it the substantial interests and sympathies of the benevolent and philanthropic throughout Great Britain.

The present volume exbibits the colony in another aspect; or, rather, there is brought together, in one work, the descriptions of it by its friends and its enemies. The first volume was mostly taken up in showing what the Trustees designed Georgia should be; the second, in showing what, during the first years of its existence, it actually was; the structure of its government — the operations of its principles, and the character and condition of its inhabitants.

It was the intention of the editor of this volume to have inserted, as part of its contents, a biography of the Hon. James Habersham, for a long period President of bis Majesty's Council, and for two years the acting Governor of Georgia, in the absence of Sir James Wright, Bart. As his life, however, embraced a period which terminated just at the beginning of the Revolution, and would, therefore, in its details, involve notices of comparatively recent events, it was thought best to defer it for the present, and present the public with the most important papers and documents relative to the Trusteeship of the colony, before we came down to the time of the royal governors and revolutionary movements. The pamphlets in the former and present volume of Collections, together with those republished in the “ Historical Tracts” of Mr. Force, constitute the most interesting part of the printed materials relating to the history of the operations of the Trustees. “Stephensos Journal” is of course excepted, and so also are the several publications made in reference to the military affairs of Oglethorpe, during the Spanish war in Georgia and Florida. There yet remain, however, valuable inedited materials of this period, which may perhaps occupy the next volume of Collections. In the mean time, the Society earnestly requests, that any who may be in possession of documents, pamphlets, or papers of any kind, pertaining to Georgia, will deposite them in the archives of the Society, or allow copies of them to be made for its use.

The Society would acknowledge their obligations to Col. Peter Force, of Washington city, for his kindness in permitting them to republish, in this volume, the “ True and Historical Narrative" of Dr. Tailfer, &c., which it was important to introduce, as showing, in connection with the “Brief Account of the Causes which have retarded the Progress of the Colony of Georgia,” &c., the views and dispositions of the discontented colonists. All the other articles are republished from the original pamphlets.

HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS.

. DR. STEVENS'S DISCOURSE BEFORE THE GEORGIA

HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

FEBRUARY 12, 1841.

The period of our Revolution has been termed “The heroic age of American history.” The expression is beautiful and appropriate, but loses much of its adaptation, if regarded as a mere classical allusion. In the mystic stories of early Greece, this term was applied to a period memorable for the triumphs of physical strength; it was an heroic age of man, as a creature of prowess and of arms, and had no reference to his nobler nature, that “ bright image of eternity within." The epoch of the Revolution, however, rests not its claims to this distinguishing epithet, upon the exhibition of any corporeal qualities, real or fabulous; but upon that union of great natural endowments with the holy principles of religion ; with high developments of mind; and with all the potent influences of a refining civilization.

As the early events connected with the Revolution in Georgia, which are related in this Discourse, have never before been published, it is proper to state, that the authorities consulted are Colonial Documents from the Board of Trade, Plantation, and State Paper offices; comprising the journals of the Assemblies, correspondence of the Governor and his Majesty's Secretaries, and memorials and petitions from agents and public bodies ; obtained by the State from England. Original letters, and documents, furnished through the liberal courtesy of I. K. Tefft and William N. Habersham, Esqrs. Manuscript notes to Ramsay's History of South Carolina by General James Jackson, kindly loaned me by his son, Col. Joseph W. Jackson. Files of the Georgia Gazette for 1774–5–6. Parliamentary Debates on the American question, and a few minor sources of information. Those who compare the statements here made, with those detailed in McCall's “ History of Georgia,” will find that we agree in scarcely a single date, or in the constituents of a single event; sometimes differing four or five years as to the period of the same transaction. I have endeavored to verify all the dates, statistics, and facts, introduced by a careful reference to official papers, authenticated documents, and contemporaneous correspondence; having several interesting letter-books of that period by mne, where its stirring scenes were noted as they transpired, and concerning the accuracy of which there can be no mistake. The Societies alluded to, at the close of the Discourse, united with us in our anniversary celebration.

W. B. S. VOL. II.

1

With this rare combination, then, how richly does the era of our struggle for freedom merit the appellation of an “ heroic age;" for the spectacle then presented, of thirteen colonies rising in unison against the oppressions of their common mother, and by one long, sanguinary, but successful war, securing their independence, had never, till then, been witnessed by the world. It required heroes, to conceive the design; heroes, to execute it; and none but heroes, after leading armies to victory, and a nation to freedom, could resign in peace the laurels of war, and retire from the scene of their glory, at the very moment of its brightest lustre.

“ Then, tell me not of years of old,
Of ancient hearts and clime,
Ours is the land, the age of gold,
And ours the ballowed time."

From among the thronging incidents of colonial history, I have selected for consideration, this day, the origin and progress of revolutionary proceedings in Georgia. Upon this topic, nothing comparatively is known, and while, in all the older States, this period has been almost stripped of its interest, through the diligent labors of orators and historians, it has hitherto, for the want of authenticated documents, been a blank page in our written and traditionary annals. In the only history of Georgia which has been published, the momentous transactions consequent on the passage of the Stamp Act in 1765 are entirely unnoticed, and the whole train of events in this province which followed, until the commencement of hostilities, are scarcely mentioned, or, when mentioned, are so erroneous in point of time, place, and fact, as only to perplex and embarrass, rather than instruct and enlighten. The perusal of the interesting manuscript volumes, obtained through the mụnificence of the State from England, together with a variety of rare and original papers, both narrative and epistolary, has induced me to attempt to supply, if possible, this deficiency, and exhibit to you, for the first time with the certainty of documentary evidence, the position sustained by Georgia from the imposition of stamp duties, until she united herself with the other colonies in the Continental Congress.

To trace the progress of free principles in America would be to epitomize her whole history. From 1619, when the Vir

« PreviousContinue »