Georgia became the last of the original 13 American colonies in 1732 when James Oglethorpe was granted permission by King George II to establish a colony in the territory between South Carolina and Florida. The Georgia territory had previously been at the center of a conflict between Britain and Spain. After only existing as a colony for less than 50 years, Georgia's strong allegiance to Britain, compared with the other American colonies, put it in a difficult position during the American Revolution.
Following the establishment of the colony of South Carolina in 1670, the British increasingly turned their attention toward the territory between South Carolina and Florida which would one day become Georgia. This interest created increased conflict between Great Britain and Spain, which already had a number of missions in Georgia. By the beginning of the 18th century, the number of Spanish missions decreased, but the conflict between the British in South Carolina and the Spanish in Florida remained.
War of the Spanish Succession
In the early 1700s the War of the Spanish Succession caused an escalation in the conflict between the British in South Carolina and the Spanish in Florida. In 1715, this fighting resulted in the defeat of Spanish-supporting Native American tribes in the Georgia coastal area, to which the British then had greater access. Following this victory, the British struggled over the next decade to establish permanent settlements in Georgia.
By 1724, a proposal was made for a settlement named Georgina, in honor of Britain's King George II. Following this proposal, in 1729 the British Board of Trace suggested that the colony of South Carolina be extended south toward Florida for economic and defense purposes.
Simultaneously, James Oglethorpe, a member of the British Parliament, formed a committee and advocated the creation of a colony as an alternative place to house those in Britain's debtor prisons. By 1730, Oglethorpe's movement had gained support and his committee, made up by Lord John Percival and James Vernon, became known as the Georgia Trustees. The trustees took their idea to King George II and were approved in 1732. The trustees honored the King by naming the new colony Georgia.
The first group of settlers, which included Oglethorpe, arrived in Georgia in November 1732. Five hundred additional settlers arrived a year later.
The creation of the colony of Georgia made it the last of the original 13 American colonies. Under the direction of the trustees, Georgia survived but did not prosper. Finally, in 1752, the trustees returned the colony to the king and in 1754 John Reynolds was appointed as the first royal governor. Georgia's borders increased due to the French and Indian War, even though the colony was spared from many of the conflict's major battles.
In the aftermath of this territorial expansion, Georgia also benefited from the work of royal Governor James Wright, who drastically expanded Georgia's economy. Wright's success created a difficult situation in Georgia when the American Revolution began in 1776, as many Georgians, unlike their northern neighbors, were happy with their colonial government. This large Loyalist population made defeating the British in Georgia a difficult endeavor. Georgians were still not completely won over by the end of the Revolution.
- Georgia Historical Society: Georgia History
- "Oglethorpe and Colonial Georgia, A History 1733-1783"; David Lee Russel; 2006
- Our Georgia History: Colonial Georgia
- Our Georgia History: The American Revolution in Georgia
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