THIS study begins in 1763 because the ending of the French and Indian War in that year and the resulting new imperial policy were the immediate causes of the American War for Independence. The study aims at a general treatment—political, economic, social, and military—of the events leading up to the break with Britain, the fighting years, and the years of readjustment immediately after the fighting stopped and independence became a reality. An overall picture of political happenings is given, except for state government during 1779-1781 when the view is blurred and indistinct. Georgia’s colonial history between 1779 and 1782 has been treated fully, as have state relations with the Continental Congress and with other states.
The text and conclusions of this study give more emphasis than has previously been given to the British and upcountry viewpoint and significance. However, the author has sought to give a fair treatment of Whig or Tory, coast or upcountry—to present the good and bad points of Sir James Wright and Elijah Clarke, Joseph Clay and George Walton, Button Gwinnett and Lachlan McIntosh.
Nobody undertakes a study of this type without a deep debt of gratitude to others who have labored in the same or related fields, to librarians and archivists who have made the task easier, and to teachers and friends who have encouraged the work. Two former teachers were responsible for my undertaking this study. Dr. E. Merton Coulter, the longtime dean of Georgia historians, helped to arouse my interest in Georgia’s past in student days at the University of Georgia and later suggested this specific topic. Dr. Merrill Jensen of the University of Wisconsin taught me about the American Revolution, suggested source materials, and gave considerable help and encouragement throughout this study. Mrs. Louise B. Hays, the late director of the Georgia Department of Archives and History, offered suggestions from her knowledge of this period in Georgia’s history; and Mrs. Mary G. Bryan, the present director, was of great help in my work in that Department. Mrs. Lilla M. Hawes, director of the Georgia Historical Society, was most helpful. The late Miss Grace Gardner Griffith at the Manuscripts Division of the Library of Congress introduced me to the study of British archives and was helpful in other ways, as were other staff members of that Division. Thanks are also due Mr. W. W. DeRenne, formerly at the University of Georgia Library, and the staff of the Wisconsin Historical Society Library, the staff of William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan, the South Carolina Archives Department, the Charleston Library Society, Duke University Library, the New York Public Library, and to many others noted in the footnotes and the bibliography.
Dr. Merrill Jensen, Miss Nina Rusk, Mr. Andrew Sparks, and the staff of the University Press have read this manuscript at some stage and given considerable help. Dr. Richard K. Murdoch and Mr. J. David Griffin, University of Georgia, have helped with that necessary but tedious job of proofreading. Publication is made possible through funds from the Ford Foundation and from the University of Georgia.
To all these I offer by sincere thanks with the realization that without their help this study would have been much more difficult.
University of Georgia