In 1733, Georgia became the last of the original 13 British colonies in North America, established nearly 50 years after New Hampshire. The land was named for King George II, who granted the charter to Georgia’s first trustees.
Georgia’s charter granted the trustees landbetween the Savannah and Altamaha rivers all the way to the South Sea, or the Gulf of Mexico.
Georgia was founded by James Oglethorpe, a member of Parliament and prison reformer who disliked debtor’s prisons. He granted inmates a second chance in America.
Oglethorpe extended freedom of religion to all Christians except Catholics. At the time, Catholicism was unpopular in England. He also worried about the influence of Catholics in Spanish-controlled Florida to the south, and wanted a buffer for South Carolina.
As the colony’s governor, Oglethorpe banned slavery and alcohol. After Oglethorpe left his post 12 years later to return to England, the colonists immediately lifted the ban on alcohol. Three years later, in 1749, Georgia allowed slaves.
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, came to Savannah in 1735 to preach to the colonists and convert American Indians. He soon stood trial for breaking a promise to marry a woman and fled back to England in disgrace.
The colonists hoped to make silk Georgia’s chief product, because the colony's plentiful mulberry trees were a food staple of the silkworm. The venture failed, and rice, indigo, lumber and fur became Georgia’s primary exports.
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