The Moravians in Georgia HTML version

Chapter 1. Antecedent Events
The Province of Georgia.
It was in the year 1728 that the English Parliament was persuaded by James Oglethorpe,
Esq. -- soldier, statesman and philanthropist, -- to appoint a committee to investigate the
condition of the debtors confined in the Fleet and Marchalsea prisons. The lot of these
debtors was a most pitiable one, for a creditor had power to imprison a man for an
indefinite term of years, and the unfortunate debtor, held within the four walls of his
prison, could earn no money to pay the debt that was owing, and unless friends came to
his rescue, was utterly at the mercy of the oft-times barbarous jailor. The Committee,
consisting of ninety-six prominent men, with Oglethorpe as Chairman, recommended and
secured the redress of many grievances, and the passing of better laws for the future, but
Oglethorpe and a few associates conceived a plan which they thought would eradicate the
evil by striking at its very root, the difficulty which many found in earning a living in the
overcrowded cities.
In 1663 King Charles II. had granted to eight "Lords Proprietors" the portion of North
America lying between the 31st and 36th degrees of latitude, enlarging the boundaries in
1665 to 29 deg. and 36 deg. 30 min. By 1728 most of these Lords Proprietors had tired of
their attempt to govern the colonies they had established in "Carolina", and in 1729 seven
of the eight sold their interest to the English crown, the district being divided into "North
Carolina", "South Carolina", and a more southerly portion, nominally included in the
latter, which was held in reserve.
To this unused land the thoughts of Oglethorpe turned, and he and his friends addressed a
memorial to the Privy Council, stating "that the cities of London, Westminster, and parts
adjacent, do abound with great numbers of indigent persons, who are reduced to such
necessity as to become burthensome to the public, and who would be willing to seek a
livelihood in any of his majesty's plantations in America, if they were provided with a
passage, and means of settling there." They therefore asked for a grant of land lying south
of the Savannah River, where they wished to establish a colony in which these
unfortunate men might begin life anew, and where Protestants, persecuted in some parts
of Europe, might find a refuge. They also offered to take entire charge of the affair, and
their petition, after passing through the usual channels, was approved by the King,
George II, a charter was prepared, and the great seal was affixed June 9th, 1732.
This instrument constituted twenty-one noblemen and gentlemen a body corporate, by the
name and style of "The Trustees for establishing the Colony of Georgia in America", and
in them was vested full authority for the collecting of subscriptions and the expending of
moneys gathered, the selection of colonists, and the making and administering of laws in
Georgia; but no member of the corporation was allowed to receive a salary, or any fees,
or to hold land in the new province. The undertaking was to be strictly for the good of
others, not for their own pecuniary benefit. The charter granted to them "all those lands,
countries, and territories situate, lying and being in that part of South Carolina, in