« PreviousContinue »
THE STATE AND UTILITY
THE PROVINCE OF GEORGIA.
AN IMPARTIAL INQUIRY.
The many reports, which have been industriously propagated to the disadvantage of the Colony of Georgia, call for an inquiry into the reasons and validity of them ; especially at this time, when the importance of the Province is so necessary to be known. And this inquiry will be made in the plainest manner, as there is no intention to amuse or deceive the public, but only to lay the naked truth before them; or to persuade them into an opinion of the colony ; but with regard to the general interest of Great Britain. The principal objections consist of the following particulars, viz.
1. That the climate is unhealthy. · 2. That the soil is barren.
3. That no produces for trade can be raised in it.
4. That the lands were granted upon improper tenures and conditions.
5. That it will be impracticable to render the colony of any value, without the use of negroes.
These objections will be considered in order; and as the first three of them relate to matters of fact about the country, they will be truly stated, and the answers to them will be chiefly collected from the evidence of persons who have been in the province; and the evidence itself will be annexed in an Appendix, as it was delivered upon oath before a magistrate in Georgia, or before some of the masters in Chancery here. The affidavits which were made before the masters in Chancery, are none of them confined to any particular points; they branch out into several, as the business or curiosity of the deponents led them into an observation of them; and where they speak of the same things, they agree.
In answer to the last objection, I shall show, from his majesty's royal charter, the first design of the establishment, and how inconsistent negroes are with it, as likewise with the welfare of Georgia ; and if Georgia should receive them how prejudicial they would be to South Carolina : how needless also they were for the products which are designed to be raised there; and in support of the arguments, a petition will be added, of many of the inhabitants against them, in the Appendix.
In the last place I shall endeavor to make appear, upon the oaths of experienced persons, the goodness and great importance of the harbors, and then give some account of the present state of the colony.
But first it may be requisite to take notice, that the objections have been raised by different sorts of people, from their different views; but none of these views seem to have been directed towards the true interest either of Great Britain or the province itself.
The agents of the Court of Spain have from the beginning been industrious to make it thought of no importance to us, perhaps from a true and just sense of how much use it might be to them. They seemed to think, that, by undervaluing, they should make Great Britain more negligent of it, and more ready to give it up on demand. But by this demand they have given a proof of its value, and a strong argument for our preserving it. The late Spanish minister Geraldino has often declared, that his master would as soon part with Madrid, as with his claim to Georgia. The king of Spain did claim it by a memorial from Monsieur Geraldino, September 21, 1736, and an armament was sent to Cuba, at a great expense, in the beginning of the year 1737, to take by force what they had represented as a barren, useless spot.
it, and minor have given in it.
The late. I would as soon
Some of the objections have taken their birth from the discontent of a few of the persons who were sent thither, but principally from others of a superior rank, who went at their own expense. These, being too sanguine in their hopes, or idle in their dispositions, formed romantic scenes of happiness, and imagined they could find the conveniences and pleasures of life without any labor or toil. They did not consider the hardships inseparable from the first settlement of a new country, uncultivated, and consequently requiring industry and time, before it could afford them necessaries : therefore, finding themselves disappointed, they grew uneasy in their situation, and for their uneasiness would assign some plausible excuse.
The difficulties which attend the beginning of a settlement, are very great, especially beginning it with low and necessitous people. It is hard to form these into society, and reduce them to a proper obedience to the laws. They always repine at the preferment of any of their own body to be magistrates over them, and they think every regulation a grievance, how mild soever it may be, or evidently for their. welfare.
As they have never been used to look forward, they live but to the present day, and are unwilling to labor for any thing but an immediate subsistence; they start at any difficulties near, and are disheartened from attempting at any profits which may be distant. In short, as Lord Bacon says, *« They consume provisions, grow weary of the place, and then write over to the prejudice and discredit of the plantation." .
Nothing has been omitted for the welfare of the people, and to give them a spirit of industry. They were sent over in convenient transports, where such regard was had to their provisions and accommodation, that out of upwards of fifteen hundred natives and foreigners, who have been sent at the public charge, above six have not died in the passage. They were furnished with clothing and provisions for some years.
They were likewise supplied with arms for their defence, working tools for their labor, a stock of cattle, and seeds of all kinds for their lands, which were judged proper for the country.
* Lord Bacon's Essays, vol. 3, page 349.
As the reader may perhaps be early in starting the following objection, Why was not more care taken in the choice of the persons who were sent ? It may be proper here to observe, that the intention was to make the settlement principally with those, who were a burden on the public at home. And though it was apprehended, that many of them would still continue idle, yet it was not doubted, but some would, as they do, prove industrious, and lay a foundation for foreign protestants and others to join them; and the Charity was confined to those, who were most indigent in town, it being thought not so proper to take people from the plough, or the necessary labors of the country, though these would have been more useful to the province.
As the objectors before mentioned have propagated the reports to the discredit of the Province; many have been too easy in their belief of them, and perhaps from a sincere regard to the public. They have seen no great quantity of any produce; and therefore have concluded that none can be raised. But besides the particular disadvantages, under which Georgia has labored, by the continued alarms of danger from the Spaniards; and by the necessity the people were under to fortify themselves, as well as clear their lands, build their houses, and raise a subsistence; it ought to be considered, that none of our most beneficial colonies have yielded any early profit. This has depended on, and must be owing to an increase of the people. Experience has always justified it, as the reason of it is obvious. Lord Bacon makes the following wise observation :* “Planting of colonies is like planting of woods, for you must make an account to lose almost twenty years profit, and expense your recompense in the end. The principal thing that has been the destruction of most plantations, has been the sordid and hasty catching at profit in the first years. It is true, quick returns are not to be neglected, so far as consists with the good of the plantation, but no farther.” Lord Bacon formed this judgment upon the most solid reasons, and he wrote this, upon observing people too sanguine in their expectations, and too ready to condemn upon the first disappointment of them. Virginia struggled long in her infancy, before she grew to any strength; many more years, than Georgia
* Lord Bacon's Essays, vol. 3, p. 349.
has been established, had past before any returns were made for the great sums which had been expended. Those, who were impatient, not seeing them so soon as they expected, raised and fomented clamors against its establishment. They declaimed upon the improbability of its success, and the ill consequences of drawing people from England only to per- ish for want. By letters from* discontented persons there, and by others who were too credulous here, it was represented as a barren and unprofitable country. These clamors spread, and prevailed, as time advanced unladen with any profits. Three several contributions of large sums too) were made by the first undertakers. One of them amounted to near £40,000, a very considerable sum in those days. For above forty years no great improvements were made, and till fthe government undertook to carry it on, and promoted it with vigor, it continued in the same languishing condition. But if they had been intimidated with the clamors, and had despaired of the little prospect of success in the spring of their undertaking, they had lost the harvest of their hopes and labor, and England had been deprived of what has proved one of her richest mines. But to proceed to the objections; and,
1. That the climate is unhealthy.
The reverse of this has been found by the people even in their first settling, in both parts of the Province, and this was the time of trial. No general illness has at any time prevailed there, (even when South Carolina has suffered by them) unless when rum and other spirituous liquors have stolen into the Province. By drinking of rum to an excess one year, many of the people were thrown into burning fevers, which carried off several, and that was the cause as they confessed at their deaths. The flux is a distemper to which new comers in most countries are liable, and some of the people in Georgia had it. But it was chiefly owing to the want of reflection, how requisite it is for men to regulate their diet and manner of living, in a different way in the latitude of thirty-one, from that which they were accustomed to in the latitude of fifty-one, in which they may safely eat and drink those things, which, if indulged in Georgia, would
* Declaration of the State of the Colony and Affairs of Virginia. By his Majesty's Council for Virginia. London, 1630.
+ Keith's History of Virginia.