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Born December 22_ 1696_ Godalming_ County Surray_ England

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Born December 22_ 1696_ Godalming_ County Surray_ England Powered By Docstoc
					                 Born: December 22, 1696, Godalming, County Surray, England
        Died: June 30, 1785, Cranham Hall, County Essex, England
When he was a boy, James Edward Oglethorpe's oldest brother and father went off to
fight in Queen Anne's War (War of Spanish Succession, 1702-1714), never to return.
James, seventh of nine children in a large, wealthy family, began to prepare for a military
career at an early age. The lessons learned by young Oglethorpe and the people he met
would play an active roll in shaping the man and the colony of Georgia.
Enrolled at Oxford, he received a commission as ensign at the age of 16. After serving a
short time as aid-de-camp for the English ambassador to Sicily and other Italian States,
he returned to England in 1716 and was appointed Lt. Captain of the Queen's Guard on
the recommendation of Lords Argyle and Marlborough. These two men also brought him
to the attention of Prince Eugene of Savoy.
It was Oglethorpe's employment under Prince Eugene, where he advanced from an
obscure secretary to an aid-de-camp, that brought him into the public spotlight. In contact
with the prince almost daily and participating in almost all battles on the Hungarian
frontier (where Eugene defeated an Ottoman army that was twice the size of his),
Oglethorpe rose to prominence among his peers. His return to England was not
glamorous. He ended up killing a man in a brawl and served five months in prison.
Upon leaving the prison he became a member Parliament from Haslemere (1722), where
his father and two brothers had served. He would be re-elected to successive terms for 32
years. During his service in this august body, Oglethorpe was a staunch defender of the
rights of colonists and strongly against any kind of slavery. Although copies of his
speeches given in Parliament are still available, they are not verbatim. Reporters (at the
time, people who would record speeches) were not allowed on the floor.
Oglethorpe was noted as a philanthropist and for his benevolence, including helping
children and defending seamen against impressment (being forced into service against
one's will). It was his work on the Prison Discipline Committee that brought him in
contact with the idea of creating a colony of debtors in the New World. Proposed by a
number of writers and in at least one book, the concept gained some acceptance before
Oglethorpe became a driving force in the group in 1728. A friend of Oglethorpe's died in
Fleet Debtor's Prison after contracting smallpox. This event would change Oglethorpe's
life.
Oglethorpe, along with other famous military men on the Prison Discipline Committee,
like Admiral Edward Vernon and Field Marshal George Wade, had witnessed first-hand
the atrocities of both the Fleet and Marshalsea Debtors Prisons.
A group of 21 men (List of Georgia trustees), including Oglethorpe and Lord Percival,
created a charter for the new colony named Georgia (in honor of King George II). The
grant included all land between the Altamaha and Savannah Rivers and from the
headwaters of these rivers to the "south seas." The charter specifically prohibited any
trustee from making money on the venture. Oglethorpe used his connections to move the
Charter for the colony of Georgia quickly to the king, who signed it on June 9, 1732.
When time came to choose the men and women who would establish the new colony
none were from debtors prison because enough non-debtor colonists were found.
Funds to pay for the trip across the Atlantic Ocean were raised, some even from the
Parliament. Oglethorpe paid his own way. Today he referred to as "resident trustee" by
the state of Georgia although he held no position either elected or appointed.
After putting ashore in South Carolina in January, 1733, James Oglethorpe, William Bull
(an engineer from Charles Town), Peter Gordon and a group of the militia left the
colonists and headed south and turned into the mouth of the Savannah River, sailing 18
miles upstream. They landed at the site of present-day Savannah. Oglethorpe was
impressed with the area because Yamacraw Bluff afforded protection against an assault
from the river. Around the perimeter swampy areas added to the defensive nature of the
position.
Near the site selected for the settlers John and Mary Musgrove, the son of a former
governor of South Carolina and his full-blooded Creek wife, made a living trading goods
with local Creek Indians. Musgrove aided Oglethorpe in securing this land from
Tomochichi, leader of the nearby Creek village, prior to the arrival of the settlers.
Oglethorpe then returned to South Carolina to get the colonists. On February 1, 1733 (old
style calendar) the settlers arrived in their new home. After setting up tents they
immediately began work on a "palisade," a wall to surround the compound where the
forty families would live. Work in the new colony was done "in common"; the group
would work together to complete a task, then begin the next task. Over a period of time a
string of forts would expand the defensive ring around Savannah. First, on the Ogeechee
River, was Fort Argyle, named for his friend and benefactor Lord Argyle. Although Fort
Argyle is gone, many other forts built by Oglethorpe still stand.
Colonial Georgia was formed into the vision of its leader. He would act as doctor and
judge to the families that joined him on the venture, and many texts refer to him as a
"strict disciplinarian." As more settlers arrived, Oglethorpe returned to England to secure
additional funds and have the trustees formally ban rum and slavery. Tomochichi made
the journey to England with the General, an honorary title for Oglethorpe now being used
by the colonists. Coming back to Georgia on the return trip were John Wesley (founder of
the United Methodist Church) and his brother Charles. On a later trip he returned with
George Whitefield (pastor, founded the orphans school known as Bethesda). During a trip
to the Creek capital of Coweta to negotiate a treaty Oglethorpe went through the
Ocmulgee Old Fields. A member of Oglethorpe's Georgia Guard wrote a passage in his
personal diary about these impressive prehistoric mounds.
As Georgia grew its resident trustee devoted himself to improving the colony's defenses,
traveling between the individual settlements with a eye on the Spanish, south of the
fledgling colony. In 1736 Oglethorpe traveled south from St. Simon to explore the coast
between the mouths of the St. Mary and St. John's River. During this expedition he gave
English names to islands, bays and other geographic entities.
By 1738 he was deeply concerned about Georgia as a whole and the 1,100 residents of
Savannah in particular, however, the major concerns of the people of Savannah appear to
be securing land, rum and Negroes. In the charter residents of Georgia were tenants and
not landowners; they blamed their economic woes on the lack of slaves and their dry
throats on a lack of rum and other hard liquor. To quell the rebellion Oglethorpe banished
the most vocal members to South Carolina. While this calmed the immediate problem,
trouble was fermenting inside and outside Georgia.
Late in 1739 The War of Jenkin's Ear broke out in the Western Hemisphere, mostly
between English Georgia and Spanish Florida (it fueled a much larger conflict, the War
of Austrian Succession). While the war was not continuous, over the next three years the
General spent most of his time planning his options against the Spanish. After
successfully capturing Fort Picolata, Fort San Francisco de Pupo, and Fort Mose
(Moosa), Oglethorpe laid siege on the Spanish stronghold of St. Augustine (May-June,
1740). A contingent of Spanish regulars arrived from Havana and took back Fort Mose,
killing 150 Georgians and forcing Oglethorpe to raise the siege.
For almost two years only minor skirmishes broke the unstable peace. Then, on June
28th, 1742 a fleet of 36 boats appeared at the mouth of the Altamaha River. A week later
the fleet began a move up the river between Fort Frederica and Fort St. Simons forcing
Oglethorpe to abandon the garrison at St. Simons, which the Spanish occupied on July 6.
The General was desperate for a victory; his rout at St. Augustine and loss at Fort Mose
had brought heavy criticism.
On July 7th a patrol of some 120 Spanish soldiers and Indians split into two groups were
headed north from Fort Saint Simon when they swept across a small group of colonial
regulars. Although the outnumbered regulars were quickly routed, the activity alerted
Oglethorpe. He gathered every available man and attacked at Gully Hole Creek, routing
the advancing enemy and pursuing them south into a marsh. The intruders also heard the
activity and dispatched a large force in support of the earlier patrols. At the point of
contact the Spanish began to turn the Georgians when Oglethorpe rallied his men and
defeated a larger force at the Battle of Bloody Marsh.
By this time, however, James Oglethorpe's fate had been sealed. William Stephens, who
had been sent to the colony by the trustees to assist Oglethorpe was made the official
head of the colony. Neither the settlers or the trustees had been particularly happy with
Oglethorpe's performance as an administrator. He returned to England to face more
battles, including an unfounded attack on both his character and his actions while resident
trustee.
Eventually, James Oglethorpe began a long and healthy retirement befriending Samuel
Johnson, Edmund Burke, and others who were supporters to varying degrees of American
freedom. Before his death the General enthusiastically greeted John Adams, ambassador
to England from the newly formed United States. He had lived to see his infant colony
become a free and independent state. At the age of 88 the General died suddenly at
Cranham Hall on June 30, 1785.


         Georgia founder James Edward Oglethorpe, tenth and last child of Theophilus and
Eleanor Oglethorpe, was born in London, England on December 22, 1696. Although the
Oglethorpe family estate was in Godalming, located in Surrey County, the Oglethorpes
lived in a London townhouse during the winter months. Educated at Eton and Corpus
Christi College at Oxford, James yearned for adventure and served as aide to Prince
Eugene of Savoy while fighting the Turks, who had invade Europe. After a victorious
truce, Oglethorpe returned to England, where he was elected to the same House of
Commons seat that his father and one of his older brothers had held before him. In
Parliament he became known nationally for his efforts on behalf of prison reform. It was
here that he and colleague Sir John Percival got the idea of pushing for a new colony in
America to which England's worthy poor could be sent on charity. After several years of
effort, they finally received a charter for the new colony of Georgia in June 1732.
Oglethorpe was named one of twenty-one Trustees of Georgia, and in November 1732 he
personally accompanied the first boatload of colonists to Georgia. Arriving on February
12, 1733, Oglethorpe obtained permission from Yamacraw chief Tomochichi to build the
settlement of Savannah.
On and off, James Oglethorpe was in Georgia from 1733 to 1743. In 1736, he was given
the rank of colonel and a British regiment to defend the colony from Spain. Oglethorpe
lived the last six years of his stay in Georgia on St. Simons Island, where he built Fort
Frederica. Here, in 1742, his forces turned back a Spanish invasion in what came to be
known as the Battle of Bloody Marsh, for which Oglethorpe was promoted to brigadier
general in the British Army. Oglethorpe returned to England in 1743, where he became
less and less involved in the affairs of Georgia because of his opposition to the trustees
abandoning such key cornerstones of the colony as the prohibition on slavery. He married
and lived his final four decades divided between London and his wife's inherited estate in
Cranham. James Oglethorpe died at age 88 on June 30, 1785.

				
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