IN A LETTER written by Governor Robert Johnson of South Carolina to James Oglethorpe in September 1732, the American colonial leader offered his advice to the man who, more than any other, was responsible for the movement to establish a colony south of the Savannah River. Bring over, he counseled, “none but people used to Labour and of Sober Life and Conversation.” A different sort, he continued, “will never be govern’d nor make good Settlers.” One distress after another, Johnson said, would attend the first arrival of new colonists in America — distresses “which will not be born by people used to Idleness or Luxury, and so far from being thankfull for the bounty bestowed upon them, will be discontented and mutinous.”1 Although this message crossed the ocean from Charles Town to London in just over two months — a reasonable passage for those days — Oglethorpe was not at the Georgia Office when Johnson’s words from the southern frontier were received. Roughly one month earlier, Oglethorpe and his first settlers had dropped down the Thames River and had sailed from Gravesend on the ship Anne.2 For better or worse, for permanency or for transience, the Georgia experiment was under way.
Had Johnson been fully aware of the situation in England his doubts might have been allayed. The Georgia idea had not been implemented without a great deal of thought; Oglethorpe had sailed from England well informed of the theoretical problems of colonization. In fact, when the pamphlet that follows this introduction is examined carefully, it may occur to the reader that Oglethorpe knew perhaps too much; his theory may have been ahead of his practice or, as Robert Browning might have said, his reach. Where, it could be asked, is the happy medium in such a circumstance? In effect, how balance theory with experience? — a question many have tackled, but few have solved. Any satisfactory response to such a challenge must depend, as always, on the situation and on the leader involved. Much is known about Oglethorpe — at least the public figure — once he assumed responsibility in Georgia. And, thanks to recent research, a good deal more is being pieced together about Oglethorpe’s interests before and after the Georgia phase of his long and distinguished career. His family, his early military exploits, his ability as a publicist, his final campaigns in Europe in the 1750s when he fought under a nom de guerre, his marriage, and his associations with the Johnson-Boswell circle are all subjects currently under scrutiny.3 It is curious, though, that little new information has been discovered on the subject that touches Oglethorpe the author and colonial theorist. With the publication of this booklet and with the identification of Oglethorpe as the author of other imperial tracts and pamphlets as well, Georgia’s leader takes an additional stature and begins to assume his proper place as an equal with even the most prominent of the seventeenth-century founders of American colonies.
On the basis of hard evidence presented in the second half of this introduction, it appears indisputable that Oglethorpe was the author of Some Account of the Design of the Trustees. Therefore, and in light of the information accumulating that shows Oglethorpe to have been even more active as a colonial publicist than most scholars and biographers have thought in the past, it seems pertinent and necessary to ask why Some Account is significant for a fuller understanding of the planting of Georgia. Additionally, it should be useful to probe into the ramifications of that particular event.
Some Account reflects a well-educated, well-read, sensitive mind. Classical references abound as does documentation of sources — something of a rarity for eighteenth-century writing on American topics. For a man who could dash off a Latin poem with aplomb and who, in later life, was to have the gall to debate politics and ideas with Samuel Johnson,4 mere documentation was no special problem, particularly when evidence indicates that Oglethorpe held in his personal library most if not all of the books to which he made reference.5 In fact, the lengthy quotations and at times unnecessary footnoting make several sections of the pamphlet a trifle turgid — rather like an anxious academic showing off for his senior colleagues. Although he had authored pamphlets before that aimed to shape public opinion, notably The Sailor’s Advocate in 1728, Some Account was his first serious venture into the complex world of American colonial theory. He must have spent endless hours poring over key sections of his discourse, and, probably nervous about the work’s reception at the hands of a critical public and his even more critical Georgia associates, he buttressed his points with learned citations to fend off the dubious and the doubting.
But it is not the segments dealing with Roman and Greek colonization that are the most important in this pamphlet. Oglethorpe shows in Some Account a sensitivity to the southern frontier that few, if any, contemporary writers could match. It is obvious that Oglethorpe knew John Barnwell’s ideas concerning fortified outposts and settlements in the back areas, and that he was also conversant with Governor Johnson’s township plan, which had been taken up before the Board of Trade in 1730. He obviously had read John Oldmixon, and he had absorbed Joshua Gee; he most certainly knew Sir Josiah Child and Charles Davenant’s works. As for the distant past, the tract shows him to be an admirer of Greek and Roman colonization projects, particularly the latter. He applauded Rome’s ability to hold its borders and appreciated fully the empire’s incorporation of colonial peoples and their ideas into the Roman mainstream.
More important for Oglethorpe and for the settlement he was to lead, he shows a keen awareness of the problems Carolina had labored under for several decades; he was determined that Georgia would not suffer from these same difficulties. He was troubled by American land speculation, the rapid growth of the institution of slavery, and the luxury and vice which that institution bred. In this light trusteeship Georgia can be looked upon as a sort of reverse Carolina: the warning signals that brought the older province to its knees in the Yamasee War and thereafter are clearly noted in Some Account. Oglethorpe’s and the Trustees’ subsequent actions in expressing their unique and sturdy rules for Georgia appear a natural outgrowth of these concerns.
To mention only a few points. Oglethorpe maintains that relations with the Indians had — at least for Britain — been more than just satisfactory in Carolina’s early years. But the “extortion and violence” of the traders ruined these relations and the upshot was the Yamasee War — a conflict that set Carolina’s affairs, and hence England’s, back substantially. The Yamasee War played havoc and “many negligent Planters perished.” Although defeated, the Indian uprising had caused such “terror” in South Carolina that its borders were wide open to Spain and France.6 Georgia’s settlement, he writes, would keep South Carolina’s black slaves “in awe,” and would calm the trauma felt by the older colony, particularly when it trembled at the horrid prospect of a concerted Negro-Indian alliance.
By the time this pamphlet was written it must have seemed evident to Oglethorpe that the problem with the natives went beyond the surface relations between them and the aggressive British traders on the frontier. At the core of the difficulty was a system in Carolina that not only condoned fraudulent and dishonest trading but also lavished enormous land grants upon a certain favored few in its midst. The pattern of large landholding that had developed by about 1715 resulted in vast stretches lying vacant and defenseless, all but asking for an invasion by Britain’s enemies. Speculation was rife; merchants, planters, and Indian traders jockeyed for positions of preference, first with the all-but-moribund proprietors, and later with the first royal officials to be appointed for Carolina.7
In Some Account, Oglethorpe is clearing a colonial path that he hopes will lead his new colony in a direction quite different from that followed by South Carolina. He is projecting a land system as yet untried on the American scene; most of the guidelines that ultimately resulted in the exotic fifty-acre tail male grants can be found in this early tract. Oglethorpe had resolved that Georgia would not repeat the system found in Carolina or other southern continental provinces. The reader can almost hear the author’s thought processes at work as he dictates the outlines of his thinking on the question of the disposition of land as well as on the articulation of a well-balanced Indian policy.
Oglethorpe is groping, in this tract, for a solution to the age-old problem of relations between the natives and the English, especially with regard to issues concerning trading goods and appropriate procedures to be followed in the backcountry. At this stage in his colonial experience it appears that he has no advanced notion of the sort of legislation — if, in fact, legislation was to prove the panacea — needed to keep both traders and natives in a peaceful relationship with one another, and with England. It is probably correct to say that Oglethorpe arrived in America without having evolved clear-cut concepts of Indian society. Dealing with the natives at firsthand made him realize that the gross abuses characteristic of the trade, as carried on by the Carolinians and the Virginians, had to be ended. Oglethorpe proved to be an adept diplomat, and the evidence that he and others have left behind indicates his admiration for the structure of Creek and Cherokee societies. He seemed, furthermore, once exposed to the natives, to enjoy their company.8 He was fascinated by their stories, and their religion appealed to him. The word of Oglethorpe’s simpatico spread throughout Indian country, and delegations from even the far-off Choctaws and Chickasaws came to meet him. It most certainly was during the period of his earliest colonial apprenticeship that Oglethorpe decided to protect these tribes in the backcountry, if such a thing were in his power. He saw such a step as being in England’s best interest, of course, but he also admired these straightforward people as individuals. His return to England in 1734, accompanied by Tomochichi, mico of the Yamacraws, and the chief’s queen and heir, sealed his respect. As the natives were impressing England with their mellifluous speeches and their quiet dignity, Oglethorpe and the Trustees were putting the finishing touches on the Indian Act of 1735, designed to put Georgia officials in decisive positions in the backcountry. Carolinians, Virginians, or any other colonial traders would have to secure licenses to trade with “Georgia” Indians from Oglethorpe himself or from men he handpicked for the job. As a general rule, such licenses had to be renewed each year in Savannah, bond had to be posted for good behavior and adherence to Georgia’s regulations, and “that demon Rum” — the favored item in the old trade — was expressly forbidden in the backcountry.9
It seems apparent from a reading of the following piece that its author has some serious questions in his mind about black slavery. At the time of the writing of Some Account, Oglethorpe still had an official association with the Royal African Company, but the reader can perhaps sense a change of approach in the author’s thinking. With his emphasis on the military posture the colony must take, with his insistence upon limited landholding with inheritance strings attached, and with his strong aversion to Carolina society, it would seem that the prohibition of slavery in Georgia was a logical, sensible step to insist upon. In his drive to make sure that Georgia would not be another Carolina he recognized the intimate relationship between large grants, land speculation, slavery, and staple crops. But similar to the situation with the Indians, it took an on-the-spot inspection of the realities of life in South Carolina to convince him what he must do. A trip to Charles Town and some of its outlying dependencies in the spring of 1733 showed him the actuality at firsthand,10 and once back in England he and his allies pushed for and secured the passage of the Negro Act. Such legislation as this, and the Indian and Rum Acts as well, is presaged in the passages of Some Account. All ordinances and legislation ultimately expressed by the Georgia Trastees touching upon land distribution, rum, the Indian trade, and slavery stuck firmly in the Carolina craw and were destined to pit these colonies against each other as long as Oglethorpe and his restrictions held the field.11
Apparently Some Account also helped Oglethorpe decide on the kind of site he wanted for his colony. Although his mind was probably already made up as a result of his own reading, observation, and past military experience, this pamphlet finds Oglethorpe for the first time delineating precisely the sort of location to be chosen by the leader of the province of Georgia. The spot must be north-facing, have good air and drinking water, be defensible, be accessible to ready water transportation, and not be near the miasmic marshes. This is a perfect description of the Yamacraw Bluff site on the Savannah River, picked by Oglethorpe for Georgia’s first settlement with the approval of the resident chief, Tomochichi. Unfortunately there are no solid hints in this booklet as to the origin of Oglethorpe’s strikingly effective urban plan for Savannah. His admiration for the Romans and his penchant for the military life might indicate the genesis of the Savannah layout, but we lack final evidence to prove any of the hypotheses concerning the basis of his ideas.12
In this booklet the reader senses Oglethorpe wrestling with the questions of the relationship of the established church — and other Christian sects as well — to the individual settler. The adherents of the Church of England were to be more closely regulated than followers of other faiths, and the role of the founder — patriarchal in tone — was carefully laid out on board ship. Oglethorpe, however, does not really go beyond a sort of general religious oversight in this essay. His opinion in the pamphlet, just as in the reality to come, was that the secular concerns of Georgia were paramount should they ever conflict with the spiritual.13
In fact, the reader of Some Account can almost see the colony of Georgia take substantive shape before his eyes. Beneath the surface of the entire social theory that provides Georgia’s foundation is what Betty Wood of Cambridge has called a sincere and dedicated “concern with white virtue, white manners, and white morals.” Oglethorpe and the Trustees sensed “the possible nature of the relationship between chattel slavery and the manners and morals of white society.”14 In Oglethorpe’s tract this relationship is spelled out — sometimes laboriously, sometimes lugubriously. Moral purpose and reform of white society in Georgia might ultimately be transported back to England and provide the impetus for the desired changes that Oglethorpe and many of his colleagues deemed necessary to cleanse the mother country’s body politic. The Trustees, with Oglethorpe at their head, had begun evolving a kind of enlightened, primarily secular Zion in America that would perform a function far greater than even the most sanguine founders of other American colonies — the Puritans excepted — had dreamed possible for their provincial experiments.15
Oglethorpe set his goals high. He outlines in Some Account precisely what the leader of this new and exotic colony of Georgia should do. Although there is room to think that Oglethorpe is trying to box rival philanthropist Thomas Coram into a corner should he offer to lead the first settlers to America, there is equal reason to believe that Oglethorpe was outlining the role he himself secretly wished to play. In this light he might be seen as drafting himself for the role of founding father. Oglethorpe was not shy and never hid his light under a bushel. He most certainly felt competent to lead such an expedition. And, indeed, why should he not?
How carefully Oglethorpe planned can be seen in his ideas concerning how the first transport should be organized and led. In line with suggestions in his tract, eight of the Trustees assembled at Gravesend on November 16, 1732, to muster the colonists aboard and send them on their travels. On the voyage itself, Oglethorpe followed the procedures that he had suggested in Some Account, although he seems to have relented from implementing prayers twice daily. At least Thomas Christie, whose journal is an important source for the Anne’s crossing, mentions only weekly prayers, along with Dr. Henry Herbert’s sermons on Sundays and special days. But as Oglethorpe had suggested in the tract, he saw to it that vinegar was used to swab the living quarters, that bedding was brought up to be aired, that the colonists were given a plentiful and varied diet, and that the men were frequently exercised with firelock and bayonet. He also established rigid discipline, implemented his proposed basic social and political division of tythings, and to enforce his insistence upon paternal authority, when Mrs. Anne Coles beat her husband, he resorted for punishment to the folk custom of skimmington. Throughout the voyage Oglethorpe acted in the paternal fashion he had suggested in his tract, so that before the colonists reached America, he had been accepted as the father image he projected in Some Account. Had this piece been intended for the stage, at its premiere Oglethorpe would have been listed as author, stage director, producer, and principal player all in one.
Some Account provides a basis for Benjamin Martyn and other pamphleteers to draw from in their later prose sketches of the Georgia blueprint. And it also gives an inside view of the developing ideas of philanthropy and white virtue as they relate to this new colonial experiment. In addition, Oglethorpe’s piece contemplates a new way for English society and American colonizers to view Indian affairs, the institution of slavery, and the discriminating use of land grants by the Trustees.
Probably most important of all, though, this wide-ranging scheme for colonization gives the reader a new picture of its author. From these pages James Oglethorpe emerges as one of the most original leaders in Britain’s imperial history. The image of Oglethorpe taking substance in Some Account is that of one of the best-informed Englishmen of his time in the field of colonial affairs. His plan for Georgia, a mixture of hard thinking, scholarship, philanthropy, experience, imperial enterprise, and idealistic theory, underscores this claim. Some Account will add to James Oglethorpe’s already-established reputation as one of the most thoughtful philosophers of the first British empire.
Some Account of the Design of the Trustees for establishing Colonys in America has for many decades lain, almost unnoticed, in the Tampa-Hillsborough Library, in Tampa, Florida, incorrectly ascribed to Benjamin Martyn, the first secretary to the Georgia Trustees.16 However, as an examination of the manuscript and other contemporary documents shows, James Oglethorpe wrote the original draft probably during late 1730 and early 1731. He read the Tampa manuscript to the Bray Associates in early 1732, when it was somewhat revised. For various reasons it was never published.
The manuscript is a quarto of 110 pages, written on laid paper made in the Netherlands around 1732.17 The leaves, which appear to be untrimmed, measure about 8 by inches. Inside the cover is the purple bookplate of the Cholmondeley Library, but the coat of arms displayed there differs slightly from that of the marquesses of Cholmondeley or of the barons Delamere of Vale Royal.18 There are no other marks to indicate previous or subsequent ownership.
Although the Preface, of nineteen manuscript pages, has been left virtually untouched, the text, of ninety-one manuscript pages, has been considerably revised, mostly in penciled interlineations and marginalia; several passages have been scored out; and extensive rearrangements have been indicated. The manuscript was apparently intended for publication but was incompletely revised — only the text through page 36. There is a formal title page, its verso blank. The Preface ends with a blank page. The text begins with a head title and ends with a “Finis.” Topic headings like those which Oglethorpe had already used in his Sailor’s Advocate (1728) have been penciled in the margins of pages 1–8, 22–29, and 33–35 of the text, but not beyond this point. There are lacunae left for the insertion of specific data and for two long quotations.19
Two hands appear in the manuscript: the original, in ink, is a careful Spencerian script; most of the revisions, in pencil, are in a different hand, sometimes scrawled; and in two passages, one or two words are almost illegible. Although time has done little to dim the ink, it has sometimes partly effaced the graphite. The Spencerian hand is that of neither Oglethorpe nor Martyn, though we would expect to see the latter’s hand here if he were the author. During this period Oglethorpe was comparatively affluent and certainly quite busy, so we would not expect the fair copy to be his. He seems to have employed an amanuensis whenever he could, such as Luke Kenn in the prison investigations and the Wesleys and Francis Moore in Georgia. That the Spencerian hand is not that of the author is made clear from the copyist’s query — “?where” — inked in the margin opposite the promise that how “the weaker and more helpless poor . . . may be made capable of subsisting themselves and be beneficial to the publick will be shown hereafter.” He obviously expected to find the promise fulfilled further along in the pamphlet. The author was actually referring to the ease and simplicity of sericulture as delineated in Thomas Boreman’s then unpublished Compendious Account of the Silk-Worm, which appeared in December of 1732, dedicated to Percival and the Georgia Trustees. The penciled script seems to be in the hand of Oglethorpe, but his habit of using a scribe whenever he could has left us few samples of his contemporary script with which to make comparisons.
It appears highly unlikely that Benjamin Martyn could have had anything to do with the writing or the revising of the manuscript. It nowhere shows his distinctive hand or his conventional pluralizing of nouns ending in y. Moreover the manuscript was completed and revised several months before Martyn arrived upon London’s Georgia scene. The first reference to him as a prospect for the Georgia Trustees comes in their informal agreement on July 20, 1732, that he “would be a proper man” to act as their secretary.20
On the other hand, the evidence for Oglethorpe’s authorship seems conclusive. On November 12, 1730, in Oglethorpe’s absence, the Associates for D’Allone’s Charity, who in May of 1731 became simply the Bray Associates, resolved “that a Treatise be drawn up in Order to be printed, to encourage all charitable Persons to contribute towards the charitable Colony intended to be fixed in some one of the American Plantations belonging to the King of Great Britain, and that Mr. Oglethorpe do prepare the same.”21 At the same meeting they adopted a policy for revision, “a standing Rule, that any Book drawn up by Order of these Associates to be printed be first perused by four Members successively, to be nominated by them at four Meetings, who are to make their Report of the same, and such Amendments as they shall think proper, and that afterwards the Book and Amendments be approved of or rejected by balloting.”22 In actual practice the rule was sometimes modified. On January 14, 1731, for example, a document was “perused at the same time by four several Members” — as the author read it aloud.23 This was apparently the procedure followed in the revision of Oglethorpe’s manuscript. On February 4, 1732, a few days after King George II gave his approval to a draft of the Georgia Charter, Sir John Percival recorded in his diacy, “Met our Carolina gentlemen, and prepared a draft of an account of our design in order to be printed.”24 Percival was evidently not present during the entire revisal; perhaps he had already read the manuscript and felt that his presence would not be needed. The minutes of the secretary, the Reverend Mr. Samuel Smith, record the attendance of only Oglethorpe, in the chair, and the requisite four amenders: Stephen Hales, Adam Anderson, William Belitha, and Captain Thomas Coram.25
There also exists considerable internal evidence for Oglethorpe’s authorship. Several quotations in the manuscript reappear in his Select Tracts (1732) and in his New and Accurate Account of the Provinces of South-Carolina and Georgia (1732) and seem to have been taken from books in his library. The extensive borrowings from Vitruvius are probably drawn from the unpublished translation of his friend Robert Castell. Moreover there are close parallels between Some Account and a letter that Oglethorpe wrote to Bishop George Berkeley in May of 1731. Three times in Some Account Oglethorpe quotes from Sir Walter Raleigh, whom he praised in Select Tracts, whose “journal” — Discoverie of the . . . Empyre of Guiana — he reportedly took with him on his first voyage to Georgia, and of whose History of the World he may have owned as many as five editions.26 In Some Account almost two pages are reserved for a quotation from Machiavelli, several selections from whose writings appear in the Select Tracts, printed probably from Oglethorpe’s copy of the Works of 1680.27 Oglethorpe also quoted from Sir Josiah Child’s “Discourse concerning Plantations,” about half of which he reprinted in his Select Tracts, evidently from a copy of Child’s New Discourses of Trade that he had in his library.28
Perhaps even more conclusive is the section of eight pages quoted from the Roman architect Vitruvius, whose De Architectura had just been translated by Castell. His manuscript translation was doubtless given or loaned to Oglethorpe by Castell’s widow after the author died in prison on December 12, 1728. (It was Castell’s death that soon led to Oglethorpe’s drive for prison reform and to his colonization of Georgia.) Finally, the similarities between Some Account and the letter to Berkeley seem to confirm Oglethorpe’s authorship. They are close, and details of the plan are listed in basically the same order. Some of the specifics are mentioned in our notes.
These parallels also suggest that Oglethorpe wrote much of his tract by May of 1731. A date before April 11, 1730, is suggested by a reference to the Peace of Utrecht in 1713: “Praise be to Heaven that there have been 16 [years] without any foreign War that could deserve the name.” An early date is suggested also by the concept of work rent expounded in Some Account and in the letter to Berkeley, and by some of the terminology of the tract. Oglethorpe several times refers to the petitioners as “the Charity,” that is, the Associates for D’Allone’s Charity. This style of reference for the parent group became obsolete after May 1731, when the charity group became simply “the [Bray] Associates.” In the revised part of the manuscript “the Charity” was invariably penciled out and replaced by “the Trust” — the Georgia Trust. Moreover, the scribe usually designated the new colony as part of Carolina or South Carolina, as did the petitions from the Associates for D’Allone’s Charity and the Bray Associates to the Board of Trade during 1730 and 1731. Since only on January 27, 1732, did King George II finally approve a draft of the Charter “for Colony of Georgia,”29 Oglethorpe may have been uncertain about the fate and name of the new colony until a few days before he handed the final draft to his amanuensis, so that he would have a fair copy — the present manuscript — to present to the Bray Associates at their meeting scheduled for February 4. Nowhere, by the way, did he or his revisers alter “Carolina” to “Georgia,” although after one reference to the proposed location in “Carolina,” Oglethorpe penciled “part of which his Majesty has Erected into a new Province by the name of Georgia.” By February 5, 1732, the London papers were already using the name Georgia for the new colony.30
But because of the three inked references to “Georgia” in the latter part of the manuscript, the final draft must be dated after April 11, 1731, probably after October 9, 1731, and possibly even as late as January 27, 1732, or a few days thereafter. On the first of these dates Captain Coram’s long-cherished dream of a colony of Georgia in what is now the state of Maine came to an end with the ruling of the attorney general and solicitor general that the region belonged to the colony of Massachusetts Bay.31 Since Captain Coram did not contest the decision, the name now became available for the southern colony.32 However Captain Coram himself probably did not use the name for the new colony until after October 9, 1731, for in his letter of that date to Governor Jonathan Belcher of Massachusetts he was apparently still calling the region Carolina or South Carolina.33 Of course the three references to Georgia in the manuscript may be last-minute insertions. Perhaps when he learned in late January that King George had at last approved a charter for the province under the name of Georgia, Oglethorpe dusted off his last draft, made a few changes, and handed it to his copyist.
From the fact that the revision of the manuscript is incomplete and that the minutes of neither the Bray Associates nor the Georgia Trustees mentions it, we can infer that the process of revision ended inconclusively. Apparently the revisers reached a point where they were unable or unwilling to proceed. Although the causes of this impasse are not entirely clear, the difficulties that caused a permanent halt in the revision probably lay in the manuscript and in a rift between some of the revisers. The manuscript was too long for inexpensive distribution, and on many points it was unnecessarily controversial. Many of its detailed suggestions seem to have been directed not to potential settlers or benefactors, as the associates wished, but to the “overseer” of the new colony. It may have been Captain Coram who objected to some of the suggestions vigorously enough to stop proceedings, for on June 8, 1732, before the Bray Associates, who petitioned for the Georgia Charter, had officially become the Georgia Trustees, Coram presented to them “a Paper containing a Draft of the Designs of the Trustees,” which probably replaced with proposals of his own the principle of tail male and some of the Roman and medieval characteristics of Oglethorpe’s plan. With Oglethorpe in the chair, the associates politely but evasively agreed that Captain Coram’s draft “be taken into further consideration.”34
When Oglethorpe wrote his tract he probably did not expect to accompany the first Georgia settlers, the first “colony,”35 and he may have feared that Coram, or perhaps some South Carolinian, might be their leader. Hence the specific nature of his directions. When he wrote to the Board of Trade and Plantations on December 7, 1730, concerning the proposed Georgia Charter and militia, he urged “that the Governour of South Carolina shall command the said Militia.”36 Although he later protested vigorously against the king’s decision that “the governour also should nominate the inferior officers,” he did not, even as late as February 25, 1732, object to the governor’s command of the Georgia militia.37 Moreover when he wrote to George Berkeley, in May of 1731, he apparently did not expect to go to Georgia. The Trustees, he wrote, “intend to send no governour to prevent the pride that the name might instill. The power of government they intend to invest in an overseer and council of honest and discreet men.”38 Meanwhile the Georgia Trustees were searching for a reliable “agent,” presumably to be placed in charge of the first settlers. When on May 2, 1732, an English merchant applied to Percival for this position, Percival responded that “they knew a gentleman of that Colony [South Carolina] who was a proper man for to be our agent, and I thought a person settled there of long time was properer than a stranger to that country.”39 Perhaps Percival had in mind James de St. Julien, the South Carolina surveyor and planter whom Governor Johnson had apparently recommended to Oglethorpe. On September 28, 1732,Johnson wrote: “I do believe it would have been of great Service to the Design if such a Person as Mr St. Julian could have been prevailed upon to have taken the Direction of the first Transport, one who knows the Country and the manner of new Settling. . . . Undertakings of this nature require the Management here of those who know the Climate and manner of settling. . . . I hope the first Transport won’t be given to the Management of a Stranger to these parts and Settlements.”40 (Before Oglethorpe left Georgia for England in 1734, the Trustees placed temporarily in the hands of James de St. Julien and Francis Scott the very same executive powers which they had granted Oglethorpe.)41 If Oglethorpe had indicated to Johnson that he expected to accompany the first colonists, the governor’s advice would surely have been more tactfully phrased. When Oglethorpe finally announced to the Trustees that he was available, in October of 1732, Percival’s reaction suggests that the news was unexpected: “it rejoiced me that Mr. Oglethorpe would go, for my great pain was that although we were ever so well prepared, it would be difficult to find a proper Governor, which post he has accepted of.”42
On the other hand, Captain Coram had apparently let it be known abroad that he was available to lead the first group of settlers. In response to his letter of February 25, 1732, Governor Jonathan Belcher of Massachusetts replied, on April 24: “I observe you have some thoughts of going over with the settlers design’d for the new colony of Georgia in So Carolina.” Months earlier, on October 9, 1731, Coram must have made the same suggestion, perhaps adding that his wife, a former Bostonian, might accompany him; for in his response, the concerned Belcher warned, “I hope for your own & Mrs Coram’s sake you’ll think no more of that Carolina enterprize.”43 When Oglethorpe finally decided to go, he saw to it that Coram was informed among the first: it was the captain who informed Percival, then at Bath.
However, since Coram had apparently prevented the approval and publication of Oglethorpe’s Some Account, the Trustees took the wise and politic course. Someone, probably one of Martyn’s sponsors, either Robert Hucks or George Heathcote, evidently suggested to Martyn that he prepare a brief and uncontroversial abridgment of Oglethorpe’s manuscript. Martyn obliged by writing a four-page appeal for contributions, a diplomatic pastiche of quotation and paraphrase from the charter and the manuscript, completely avoiding such controversial issues as tail male. Then at their meeting of August 3, 1732, the Trustees “directed that Martin’s short account of the design of the Georgia Colony and the advantages accruing from it to England should be printed” (our emphasis).44 In the Common Council, however, into which Coram was never elected, the members expressed their confidence in Oglethorpe by continuing him as the director of the promotional campaign for the new colony.45
Although Oglethorpe and the Georgia Trustees never published Some Account, its usefulness was not restricted to the quotations and paraphrases that appeared in Martyn’s Some Account of the Designs of the Trustees for establishing the Colony of Georgia in America (1732) and Reasons for Establishing the Colony of Georgia (1733). The function of its preface was even better served by Oglethorpe’s Select Tracts; and its text served as a quarry for his New and Accurate Account of the Provinces of South-Carolina and Georgia. Moreover, the material directed to the overseer never needed publication because as the leader of the colony Oglethorpe put into practice the plan that he had embodied in his manuscript. Some of the controversial suggestions were never implemented. The suggestion of one day’s work each week as a substitute for rent, for example, had been a nugatory dream for more than a year before the manuscript was finally revised by the Bray Associates. Had they, in their revisal of the manuscript, reached the discussion of work rent in lieu of quit rent, they would have felt impelled to alter it, for they were in no position to make such a commitment. But otherwise A Short Account served as a virtual blueprint of the Georgia genesis. Its publication should help to clarify the origins of the colony.
Throughout our edition we have omitted the catchwords at the foot of each page of the manuscript and have modernized the use of quotation marks, which in the manuscript usually begin each quoted line. Within the quoted material we have tried to reproduce the original, taking the liberty only of supplying a necessary period and expanding contractions indicated in the original by a stroke over an m. Elsewhere we have taken as our model Julian Boyd’s edition of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (Princeton, 1950–). We have spelled out the uncommon contractions and have normalized the common ones. We have retained the spelling, capitalization, and italicization. We have supplied periods inadvertently omitted, most of them at the end of a paragraph or a line; and we have added a few commas and semicolons, these only to prevent misreading. A long dash reproduces the line that Oglethorpe’s scribe used in the quotations to indicate an omission, sometimes a considerable one. Spaced periods represent blank spaces left by the copyist for the insertion of specific data, or in one case for a long quotation. Brackets enclose letters or words, in roman, supplied by us. Where penciled revisions in the manuscript replace or expand canceled ink originals, we reproduce both versions, first the original, italicized and bracketed. (Neither spaced periods nor brackets appear in the manuscript.) Since in the infrequent inked revisions the scribe seems usually to have corrected his own mistakes, here we do not reproduce his canceled original version. We have not followed Oglethorpe’s original order but reproduce the tract as it was revised for publication by him and his amenders, indicating these changes in our notes.