THE REVOLUTION DRAWS NEARER 1774 - 1775
THE TOWNSHEND ACTS had caused considerably more trouble in most of the other colonies than in Georgia and besides arousing the colonials to assert their rights, had decreased colonial imports from Britain. Hence all duties except that on tea were repealed in April, 1770, and the quartering act was allowed to expire. The Declaratory Act and the tea tax stood on the books, and happenings in the colonies kept the excitement of the “American Party” or Whigs at a pitch and intercolonial committees of correspondence busy. However, in Georgia there was relative quiet and no new major quarrel between the Commons House and the governor and no new protests by the Whigs against British policies. The effort of Parliament to force taxed tea upon Americans, which many had resolved not to drink, and to relieve the financial difficulties of the East India Company led to the Boston Tea Party in December, 1773, in which Bostonians dumped a shipload of tea into the harbor rather than allow it to be landed and the tax paid.
To punish Boston the ministry pushed through Parliament in the spring of 1774 four acts quickly named “Intolerable Acts” by the Americans. The port of Boston was closed until the tea should be paid for. Changes were made in the Massachusetts government that took certain powers away from the assembly and gave them to the governor. British officials could be tried in England for accusations made in the colonies. The quartering of troops upon the people was legalized. An act setting up a government for the new province of Quebec passed at the same time was often linked to these four acts by Americans.
These new threats to American liberty and the presence of troops in Boston stimulated quick and united colonial action against British coercion. Virginia sent out invitations for an intercolonial congress to consider the situation, and other colonies reacted quickly. South Carolina held a general meeting in Charleston July 6-8, 1774, to formulate her policy and to elect delegates to the congress. Governor Wright reported that this South Carolina action set off troubles in Georgia again after several years of comparative quiet.1 On July 14 an invitation in the Georgia Gazette signed by Noble W. Jones, Archibald Bulloch, John Houstoun, and George Walton and a broadside invited Georgians to a meeting at the “liberty pole” at Tondee’s Tavern in Savannah on July 27 to consider the critical situation in America caused by the Intolerable Acts and the Parliamentary acts for raising a revenue in the colonies.2 Wright reported that the sponsors of this meeting were using hand bills, letters, public invitations, newspaper publicity, and other means to get a large attendance.3 There was also opposition by the same means. Some Georgians thought that the Bostonians should pay for the tea that they had destroyed and that the Creek Indian troubles on the Georgia frontier were too critical to risk arousing antipathy on the part of the British government.4
At the July 27 meeting held at the exchange in Savannah, letters and resolutions from committees of correspondence in Boston, Philadelphia, Annapolis, Williamsburg, North Carolina, and Charleston were read. A committee of thirty was appointed to draw up similar resolutions of objections to the Intolerable Acts. When it was objected that the meeting should not enter into resolutions at once because some of the more distant parishes had not had sufficient time to send delegates, the meeting adjourned until August 10, on which date all parishes were requested to send the same number of delegates that they had in the Commons House of Assembly to meet with the committee of thirty. Before adjourning the meeting appointed a second committee of nine to receive subscriptions for the suffering poor of Boston.5
There is no record of how many people attended this meeting or which parishes were represented. A Charleston newspaper account said that upwards of one hundred people from one parish [probably St. John] came resolved on an agreement not to import or use British manufactures until Americans were restored to their constitutional rights. The opponents of the meeting said most of the people who attended were from Christ Church and St. John’s parishes,6 an entirely logical situation. There was a group of artisans, small businessmen, and young men from the better Savannah families who early formed a group that consistently opposed the actions of Wright and the friends of government. Because of the physical isolation, religious dissent, and independence in thought and action, the St. John’s Parish New England Congregationalists never became a part of the “court party” at Savannah but retained what Wright called “Oliverian principles.”
John Glen, chairman of the committee of thirty, immediately issued invitations to the August 10 meeting.7 Wright issued a proclamation saying that such meetings were unconstitutional and punishable by law,8 yet every parish sent representatives to join the committee of thirty. The main work of this meeting was the adoption of eight resolutions which were the first real statement of revolutionary sentiment in Georgia. The first two resolutions covered old ground when they said that Americans were entitled to all the rights, privileges, and immunities of Britons and that Americans had a “clear and indisputable right” to petition the throne. The Boston Port Bill was objected to as being “contrary to our idea of the British constitution” because it deprived people of their property without the judgment of their peers, because it was an ex post facto law, and because it punished both the guilty and the innocent indiscriminately. Neither could it be justified by necessity. The abolition of the Massachusetts charter tended to subvert American rights. Parliament had no power to tax Americans; the constitution admitted no taxation without representation; requisition to their colonial assemblies was the proper method of getting funds from the colonies. It was contrary to natural justice and law to transport people away from the locality where the alleged crime had been committed and try them and thus deprive them of trial by their peers and the full benefit of witnesses. The meeting declared its concurrence with other colonies in all constitutional measures to obtain redress of grievances. The membership of the meeting was declared a general committee to take any future necessary action. Any eleven of its members were empowered to act as a committee to correspond with the other colonies, and copies of its proceedings were ordered transmitted to the other colonies.9
These resolutions were far from the radical revolutionary utterances their enemies declared them to be. They were similar to statements, common since the Stamp Act troubles, concerning the constitutional relationship between the colonies and the mother country. The whole appeal was to the constitution against unconstitutional action by the British government. The resolutions were a statement of grievances by loyal subjects—a procedure that had a long and hallowed tradition in English constitutional history.
This meeting also debated the selection of delegates to the general congress of all the colonies soon to be held in Philadelphia, but in the end decided not to send delegates. No reason for this decision has been found. In an unidentified letter from St. John’s Parish, it was said that the defeat of the motion to send delegates to Philadelphia was carried by a number of people from Savannah who were not really a part of the meeting and who had no right to vote.10 If this account is true, it is probable that these people gained admittance at this meeting for the express purpose of defeating the sending of delegates to Philadelphia. Members from St. John’s led a second attempt to appoint delegates to Philadelphia but were defeated again. The First Continental Congress met and adjourned without any Georgia delegates being present.
Governor Wright did not think it advisable to oppose this meeting or its resolutions publicly, but he complained bitterly to London about such action and the lack of support given him in his efforts to uphold the government. As usual, he put the blame upon the South Carolinians.11 After the adjournment of the meeting, petitions raising numerous objections to it were circulated throughout the province by friends of government (Tories), who were backed by Wright. It was alleged that the province was not fully represented, that the selection of delegates was irregular, that some who sought to attend were denied admission, that the purpose of the meeting was misrepresented, that protests from St. Paul’s Parish tendered at the meeting were not received,12 that such action as the meeting might stop the British government from sending the desired troops to protect the frontier against the feared Indian attack, and that the meeting should have made a dutiful petition rather than question the authority of the British government.
These objections were included in petitions circulated throughout the province for signature to prove that the August 10 meeting really did not show the feeling of the province. Seven petitions, which were circulated in four parishes and which contain 633 signatures, have been located.13 In Savannah a number of colonial officials and wealthier merchants signed, as would be expected. The petitions from Savannah and the upper part of St. Paul’s Parish include a number of signatures of people who later became leaders in the revolutionary movement. Edward Langworthy, James Habersham, Jr., Alexander Wylly, William Few, and Elijah Clarke are examples.
These petitions were followed in turn by objections to the objections. Defenders of the August 10 meeting argued that the Savannah petition contained only 103 signatures, one-third of them officials’, while there were between five and six hundred men in the parish eligible to sign. Similar objections were raised in other parishes. In some areas more people than lived there were said to have signed, dead people’s signatures were reported, and people were reported to have signed more than once. The contents of the petition were said to have been misrepresented and no public meetings held to get real public opinion. Because the August 10 meeting was made up of elected delegates, people without correct credentials were excluded. None of these objections to the petitions were signed.14
After the deputies from St. John’s Parish at the August 10 meeting were defeated the second time in their attempt to get delegates appointed to the Continental Congress, they resolved that they would send delegates to the congress and abide by its decisions if a majority of the other parishes would join them. Two additional meetings were held at Midway in an effort to get agreement by other parishes. Four parishes—St. John, St. George, St. David, and St. Andrew—were represented or later approved the actions of the second meeting; resolutions were adopted; and Dr. Lyman Hall was elected as a delegate to Philadelphia. Although Hall had been a leader in the attempt to send delegates to the Continental Congress, he did not attend. Either his election was contingent upon approval of other parishes which did not come, or he did not think he had sufficient backing to speak for the colony. St. John’s had to content itself with these attempts and with the collection and forwarding of some 200 barrels of rice and £50 in cash for the suffering poor of Boston.15
The Savannah meetings, the August 10 resolutions, the objecting petitions, the objections to the objections, and the Midway meetings prove beyond a doubt that sentiment in Georgia was badly divided about what Americans should do to secure their rights within the British Empire. There was a party for strong action and definite declaration of American rights, undoubtedly influenced by what was happening in South Carolina and the other colonies. This party took the lead and was able at the August 10 meeting to put Georgia on record as being in substantial agreement with the other colonies. There was a party, led by the governor and his friends, that still favored humble petitions and appeals to the King. This party was able to prevent the sending of delegates to the Continental Congress and to collect the signatures on the objecting petitions. Probably at this time a majority of Georgians were not in the first party; they certainly did not belong to the second party, but they tended in that direction. Many people who later decided that American rights could not be secured by constitutional means within the British Empire had not yet made up their minds. Taxation without representation and other unconstitutional actions of the British government were objected to. Nobody breathed a word about independence or a general resettlement of the constitutional relationship between London and the colonies. Revolution had not yet come to Georgia.
The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia on September 5 with delegates from twelve colonies; they could only “lament Georgia with resentment” because she was absent.16 Georgians could not blame Governor Wright for the absence as they had done at the Stamp Act Congress. Representatives of the province had made the decision themselves on August 10. Georgia, St. John’s (Newfoundland), Nova Scotia, and the Floridas were sent information about the actions of the Congress, but there is no evidence that this report ever received any official consideration in Georgia.17
Late in 1774 Wright reported that things were tolerably quiet; but now that South Carolina deputies had returned from the Continental Congress, he knew there would be trouble again and was afraid that a large party in Georgia would try to carry out the dictates of the congress.18 The assembly stood adjourned until November 15, and Wright prorogued it until January 17, by which time he hoped the furor created by the congress would have subsided.19
Wright showed that he knew Georgia when he said he expected more trouble. December was an exciting month. Many letters published in the Gazette urged Georgia to adopt the association (non-importation and non-exportation to Britain and the West Indies) agreed to by the Continental Congress, while others urged that it be ignored. The committee of the August 10 meeting called a citizens’ meeting in Savannah on December 3 which suggested that all parishes elect delegates to a provincial congress which should meet in Savannah at the same time the assembly met in January. The Savannah election for this congress was conducted as a regular poll at which everybody who paid toward the general tax was allowed to vote.20 The Gazette carried accounts of elections in the rest of Christ Church and in St. Paul’s and St. Matthew’s parishes.21 There seemed general agreement in commercial circles in Savannah that the Continental association would be adopted by the congress when it met. One observer reported that most of the Savannah objectors to the August 10 resolutions had voted for delegates and that two of the back parishes, St. Paul and St. George, that made the most noise in opposition to the August 10 resolutions had now “come over to us.”22
As would be expected, St. John’s Parish was in the vanguard of the movement for the adoption of the Continental association. At a parish meeting at Midway on December 6, it recommended that the other parishes elect delegates to the proposed congress at once and individually adopt the Continental association instead of waiting for the action of the provincial congress. Lists of non-signers could then be offered to the congress when it met. St. John’s adopted the association fully, agreed to trade only with those who had agreed to it, and began getting individual signatures of those who agreed to the association.23
Meetings in early January at Darien, St. Andrew’s Parish, under the leadership of Lachlan McIntosh and other Scots, adopted the Continental association without reservation. Stopping land grants, raising quit rents, and appointing absentee officials who remained in England were declared to be attempts of the British government to enslave America. Long-standing Scottish animosity toward England is seen in the statement, “such oppressions neither we nor our fathers were able to bear, and it drove us to the wilderness.” Objections were raised to government by ministerial instructions and disallowance of colonial laws, payment of salaries of colonial officials from England was said to render these officials insolent, to allow the raising of exorbitant and illegal fees without the wholesome effect of legislative curbs, and to make the officials a corrupting influence more dangerous than a standing army. Slavery was declared an “unnatural practice . . . founded in injustice and cruelty, and highly dangerous to our liberty (as well as our lives) debasing part of our fellow creatures below men, and corrupting the virtue and morals of the rest, and is laying the basis of that liberty we contend for . . . upon a very wrong foundation.” A pledge was made to work for the manumission of the slaves in the colony. These resolutions, adopted January 12, 1775, are one of the better early statements of Georgians in the revolutionary crisis and put the argument upon a considerably higher plane than heretofore.24
Wright reported these activities, along with the promise of the South Carolina delegates to the Continental Congress to be responsible personally for Georgia’s agreeing to the association and also told of the ensuing attempts by the delegates to carry out this promise. He said that he intended to make one more effort to oppose the liberty folk and to keep Georgia out of the rebellion. With 200 troops and a sloop of war the effort would be much easier. Wright was sure that things would be decided one way or another soon and said that he would welcome a decision.25
The assembly met in Savannah on January 17, 1775, and the provincial congress one day later.26 Five parishes—Christ Church, St. Paul, St. Matthew, St. Andrew, and St. George—sent delegates to the congress. The St. John’s delegates refused to join the congress until it had agreed to the Continental association, saying that their acceptance of the association prevented their joining with non-associates.27 Probably St. John’s would have come nearer to getting Georgia to adopt the association by joining the congress and working within it as did St. Andrew’s, which also had adopted the association.
Six of the forty-five identified members of the provincial congress were members of the assembly, and others had been members of earlier assemblies. The congress elected Archibald Bulloch, Noble W. Jones, and John Houstoun, all members of the congress from Christ Church Parish, as delegates to the Second Continental Congress to meet in May. The Continental association was adopted with some modifications. It was to become effective March 15 and all other beginning dates were delayed the same three and a half months. The non-consumption agreement of the Continental association was ignored entirely, and Georgia did not cut off trade with colonies which still traded with Britain. Goods necessary to the Indian trade were to continue to be imported subject to the decision of the Continental Congress when it met.
Other than as indicated above, the importation of all goods from Britain, Ireland, and the British West Indies, and of slaves from Africa was to stop on March 15. Exports to these areas were to stop on December 1. Sheep raising, manufacturing, and industry of all sorts were to be encouraged. Merchants agreed to sell their goods at the same prices as formerly. Horse racing and other amusements, giving and wearing of mourning clothing at funerals, and other unnecessary expenditures would be stopped. A committee, to be elected by all who paid taxes in every parish, town, or district, was to see that the association was carried out and to give publicity to any violators, who were to be boycotted by people living up to the association. Ship captains were not to be allowed to take on cargoes of forbidden goods. A committee was to inspect the customs house records frequently and to give violators publicity in Georgia and other provinces.28
The provincial congress felt itself severely restricted because it represented but five parishes and some of its delegates were under restrictions as to the type association they could adopt. The Continental delegates elected by the congress said that it got little encouragement in Savannah because the importers there were mostly against any interruption of trade and that the consumers were divided. Yet, with the absence of St. John’s Parish, the leadership in the congress came from the artisan-small businessman group in Savannah, and several merchants who were members of the congress signed the association when it was adopted. The province was hopelessly divided on the adoption of the association. The congress felt that it had done what it could and that anything else must be done by the assembly which represented all the province. Hence the congress adjourned on January 25 leaving final approval of its actions to the assembly.29 Wright took credit for preventing publication of the journal of the congress by threatening a proclamation against anything it might publish.30
Wright and his council decided to let the assembly meet at the same time as the provincial congress in an attempt to furnish some backing for conservatives instead of letting the radicals take the entire spotlight in the congress.31 Wright delivered a well thought out and moderate opening address to the assembly, calculated to soothe the Commons House, rather than antagonize it. The address was a sincere attempt to get on with the ordinary business and discourage revolutionary activities; it showed the real concern of a man who believed in the complete powers of the British government and who had a real love for America. “You may be advocates of liberty, so am I, but in a constitutional and legal way. You, gentlemen, are Legislators, and let me entreat you to take care how you give sanction to trample on Law and Government; and be assured . . . that where there is no law there can be no liberty. It is the due course of law and support of Government which only can insure to you the enjoyment of your lives, your liberty, and your estates; and do not catch at the shadow and lose the substance.” Wright, who said that he was speaking as a friend of Georgia, was grieved to behold the province that he had seen nurtured from infancy at the expense of the Crown plunged into distress and ruin by the rashness of some inconsiderate people.32
The Commons House replied that it too was worried about relations between Britain and America and felt that the numerous grievances of the colonies should be redressed in order to give the colonists their constitutional rights. The House would avoid anything not consistent with its duty to the King or with the welfare of its constituents.33 The Upper House, which usually agreed with Wright and said nothing about American rights, may have startled him when it said that the King’s American subjects should enjoy all the rights and privileges of British subjects and that it was necessary that American rights be clearly defined and firmly established to unite Britain and the colonies.34
The day the assembly met, the Upper House asked the Commons House for a conference to consider the best means for securing to Americans all the rights to which they were entitled as British subjects. The conference took place, but the two houses were unable to reach any agreement for united action.35 Petitions signed by eighty inhabitants of Christ Church and by 180 inhabitants of St. George’s Parish were presented to the Commons House objecting to the violent actions of some of the other colonies which they said tended to widen the breach with Great Britain rather than heal it. A temperate address to the King limited to the subject of no internal taxation without representation would, the signers felt, accomplish more.36 The Commons House took no official notice of these petitions but considered the papers from the Continental Congress and the other colonies which had been before the provincial congress. It agreed with the declarations and resolves of the Continental Congress, thanked it for its wise and able action in the cause of American liberty, and resolved to elect delegates to the next Continental Congress.37 To prevent the Commons House from adopting the association and resolutions of the provincial congress, Wright prorogued it on February 10.38 Thus ended the last session of the royal assembly in Georgia before the outbreak of fighting. The assembly had been plagued by the same division that paralyzed the provincial congress and showed the fundamental division in Georgia.
Noble W. Jones, Archibald Bulloch, and John Houstoun, the delegates to the Continental Congress selected by the provincial congress, declined to serve because they could not speak for a majority of the province. Their advice to Georgians to choose delegates again with some show of unanimity was of no avail. They wrote a long letter to the Continental Congress explaining what had happened in Georgia since the calling of the provincial congress and giving their reasons for declining to attend the Continental Congress. They closed with a ray of hope: “notwithstanding all that has passed, there are still men in Georgia, who, when an occasion shall require, will be ready to evince a steady, religious and manly attachment to the liberties of America.” Jones said a month later that he thought nine out of ten Georgians were with the other colonies, though they had not shown it yet.39
The status of Georgia’s trade remained confused. Georgians were free to abide by the association or not except in St. John’s and St. Andrew’s parishes, which had adopted the Continental association independently. St. John’s Parish cut off trade with the rest of the province. South Carolina and several other provinces did likewise.40 When the Second Continental Congress met in May it stopped trade with Georgia.41 Joseph Clay, a Savannah merchant, said in April that anything could be imported into Georgia where the association was not operating.42 Ardent Whigs blamed the trouble upon the selfish desire of the merchants to continue trade and profits and on the timidness of the people to take action. Andrew Elton Wells summed up this attitude well when he wrote his brother-in-law, Samuel Adams: “I truly blush for the want of Spirit of the Greatest part of this province. Who after their mock resolutions lukewarm Associations & faint conventions have Thrown off the Mark, & remain a Self Interest penurious Set not worthy the freedom of Americans or the Notice of its meanest Subjects.”43
St. John’s Parish was highly indignant because the rest of Georgia would not adopt the association and refused to acknowledge that the actions of the provincial congress had any authority. St. John’s tried to divorce itself from Georgia and to become a detached parish of South Carolina, and so be allowed to trade with Charleston. The Charleston committee offered sympathy but said it could not possibly grant the request of the parish, which must remain a part of Georgia.44 After this rebuff from South Carolina, St. John’s decided that it would have to carry on trade for necessities with Savannah because the parish could not possibly supply itself. All such trade would be carried on under the oversight of a committee which would decide what was necessary.45 Despite its brave stand, St. John’s found it impossible to carry out the association as a single parish and had to join the “unworthy” people of Georgia.
However, St. John’s was determined to be represented in the Continental Congress that was to meet in May. It elected Dr. Lyman Hall as representative and sent him northward with 160 to 200 barrels of rice and £50 cash for the relief of the poor in Boston. When Hall presented himself to the Continental Congress on May 13, he was unanimously admitted but he declined to vote because each colony had but one vote and he represented but one parish.46
Despite the troubles of the St. John’s Parish and of Savannah in getting the province to back the Continental Congress, the royal officials, during the first half of 1775, were having even more trouble enforcing their authority. On February 15 the collector at Savannah seized eight hogsheads of molasses and six hogsheads of French sugar for non-payment of duty at the warehouse of Andrew Elton Wells, a brother-in-law of Samuel Adams. At midnight a mob of about twenty people, with blackened faces and dressed as sailors, came to the wharf and took the tide waiter, stationed there as a guard, to the town common and tarred and feathered him with supplies taken from the yard of Wells. The tide waiter could not identify the people but believed they were Savannahians of the better sort. Two sailors, also acting as guards, were thrown into the river and one was believed drowned. The sugar and molasses disappeared during the confusion. To Wright’s offer of a reward of £50 for information leading to conviction of the people responsible there was no response.47
Early in 1775 the London government informed Wright that one small cruiser and 100 soldiers had been ordered to Georgia in answer to the almost continual entreaties from Wright and the assembly.48 These troops had originally been requested for frontier duty, but more recently Wright had requested them to uphold the dignity and authority of his government. When authorization came from General Gage to transfer 100 troops from St. Augustine to Savannah,49 Wright and his council decided that this number was insufficient to take care of the changed conditions in Georgia. Troops in Savannah would probably arouse further resentment of the Whigs and might cause more trouble than Wright or the soldiers could prevent. At least 500 troops and two vessels were now considered necessary to maintain order, and these were requested. Wright stopped the transfer of the 100 authorized, and by the time the new request could be considered, armed rebellion had broken out to the north.50
When Wright realized that the American troubles were not temporary, he expressed fear that his mail would be tampered with in Charleston by the Whigs. Because there was no other way to send or receive mail in Georgia, it continued to go through Charleston. On June 27, 1775, Wright wrote to General Gage and Admiral Graves describing the dangerous situation in Georgia and South Carolina. He asked Graves for a larger vessel than the one authorized for Savannah, and requested Gage to send more troops and money to build a fort. The Whig secret committee in Charleston secured these letters from the post office and substituted letters saying that things were going well in Georgia, that no troops or vessels were needed, and not to believe Lord William Campbell, the newly arrived governor of South Carolina, if he showed worry about the situation.51 By July 1 the Charleston committee was openly seizing public mail in Charleston, extracting pertinent items for transmission to the Georgia and South Carolina provincial congresses and the Continental Congress, and forwarding the mail with an endorsement that it had been opened. Wright said that the Georgia Provincial Congress ordered the postmaster in Savannah not to forward his mail to him but later rescinded this order.52 Any hope of communication between Wright and London was now impossible unless there was a special conveyance, a means not often available.
Several days before the scheduled May meeting of the assembly, Wright informed his council of rumors that the Commons House would not meet. On the advice of the council a special proclamation was issued requiring the meeting of the assembly as scheduled, but the members of the Commons House did not meet, and the assembly was prorogued until November 7.53
The news of the battles of Lexington and Concord reached Savannah on May 10, and caused considerable excitement. The next night the public powder magazine was broken open and most of the powder stored there was removed. Wright offered the usual £50 reward for information leading to the conviction of the guilty parties but did not really expect to secure any information.54 The powder was used by Georgia and South Carolina Whigs, and there is a strong tradition that part of it was used by the Americans at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
On the night of June 2 the twenty-one cannon on the battery in Savannah were spiked and thrown down the bluff to prevent their use in the coming celebration of the King’s birthday and perhaps with the idea that they should be taken out of the hands of authorities. Some of these cannon were recovered, drilled out, and fired on the King’s birthday, June 4. The usual drinking of the King’s health under the flagpole was done by the governor, the council, and the gentlemen of the town. The next day (the birthday came on Sunday) the governor gave his usual entertainment for the public officials, and the town was illuminated at night. Not to be outdone by Tories, the Whigs also held a celebration on June 5. They erected a liberty pole and then retired to Tondee’s long room for an elegant dinner and spent the day in the “utmost harmony,” concluding with toasts to the accompaniment of the discharge of cannon placed under the liberty pole. Toasts were drunk to the King, American liberty, no taxation without representation, speedy reconciliation between Britain and America upon constitutional principles, American leaders, and the members of Parliament who had stood up for American rights.55
In late June and early July the public storehouse at Savannah was entered and guns, shot, and other military stores taken away. George Baillie, the commissary general, was present at the second raid and, on orders from Wright, forbade the raiders to take the stores. They ignored Baillie but did leave their names and a list of items which they took. Wright was powerless to prevent such action and could only report it to London.56
While there was more action against officials in Savannah than elsewhere in the colony, reports came from other areas also. On June 26 the schooner Lively arrived in St. Catherine’s Sound with illegal goods on board. The collector at Sunbury, James Kitching, went down and seized the vessel, ordered it up to Sunbury, and sent the comptroller and searcher, Isaac Antrobus, aboard to decommission it. A group immediately collected under the liberty pole in Sunbury and told Antrobus to leave Sunbury within half an hour and not to return until the next morning. When he refused to obey, he was forcibly taken off the ship, sent out of town, and again instructed not to return until the next day. The ropes of the vessel were then cut, and it sailed away. Collector Kitching applied to a magistrate, the son of the chairman of the group who had signed the note ordering Antrobus to leave, but got no help. The deputy provost marshal at Sunbury was threatened with punishment if he tried to serve any writs in connection with the affair.57 The records do not tell what happened to the Lively, but she probably unloaded her cargo somewhere along the coast.
Georgia and South Carolina Whigs laid plans to capture the regular shipment of gunpowder for the Indian trade, expected in Savannah in June. The South Carolinians sent several boats to guard the mouth of the river and to intercept the powder vessel upon its arrival. When the vessel arrived on July 10, it was stopped and the powder removed before it was allowed to proceed to Savannah. The powder, estimated at six tons, was divided between the Georgians and South Carolinians.58 Tradition says that some of this powder was sent to the Continental Congress and used by Washington to drive the British out of Boston.
Throughout June and July people in and out of Georgia said that the colony was assuming the Whig viewpoint more than ever before. On June 1 Noble W. Jones reported that sixty-three barrels of rice and £122 in specie were on their way to the distressed in Boston, and that more was hoped for later from outside Savannah.59 Even Charlestonians were willing to concede that Georgians were about to come out fully in support of the American cause and make up for their dilatory actions of the past.60
By July Wright and his neighboring governors were sure that Georgia was lost to the British cause. Wright said the friends of government were falling off daily because they got no support. Whigs had already warned some to leave the province. Wright thought the situation so intolerable that he requested leave to return to England the next spring. He said that he could not bear the daily insults that were a part of his lot and that the King did not need a governor any longer because that governor was powerless to stop the illegal and revolutionary activities taking place.61 A man of Wright’s ideas of law, order, and good government certainly found his situation intolerable, yet he was forced to endure it for six months longer. Royal government in Georgia had come on bad times, but worse times were to follow before the province decided which side it would back in the coming struggle.