This volume is concerned with the actual founding of Georgia and covers the years 1732-1735. It gives some background of the actual settlement and a great deal about the arrival of the colonists and the conditions that they found in the virgin wilderness that they would make into the colony of Georgia. It chronicles the sicknesses, heartbreaks, adjustments, deaths, and successes which were an inevitable part of the settlement of any colony.
Most of the letters of this volume were written by the colonists to the Trustees or an individual Trustee and concern individual or collective problems in the colony. There are letters by Oglethorpe while he was in Georgia and many to him after his return to England in May 1734. There are numerous letters by Thomas Causton, Thomas Christy, and other Trustee officials in Georgia on broad or specific topics. There are letters from officials and merchants in South Carolina about their interests in Georgia. Finally, there are a few letters from Germans and Swiss about proposed settlers for Georgia and from Trustee Botanist Robert Miller about his searches for useful plants to grow in Georgia.
Among the topics which stand out because of wide coverage are the Trustees’ garden and the argument between gardners Paul Amatis and Joseph Fitzwalter, the Red String Plot which frightened a number of Georgians, the accusations against magistrate Thomas Causton and something of his problems and abilities, early Indian relations and the development of the argument with South Carolina over the control of the Indian trade, and the desire of many Georgians for Oglethorpe to return to the colony.
Many of the writers were not used to writing letters, as is obvious from their strange spellings and grammatical constructions. There are visible ink stains on the letters and almost visible strains as they compose their complaints about bad usage from fellow colonists or officials or show pride in their accomplishments. In baring their souls, these colonists often tell us a great deal more about early Georgia than better educated people who were more accustomed to writing letters.
In many respects, the charm of this volume lies in its diversity of topics discussed and of the people who wrote the letters. Often it takes the reader behind the scenes and introduces him to the colonists as individuals.
The original volume divisions created by Allen D. Candler and Lucian Lamar Knight, the original compilers of this series, have been retained. This will facilitate references in works already published which used these volumes in manuscript.
Original spellings are retained unless the meaning is not clear. (Note. The Old English thorn “th” was usually written and printed as “y” in the early eighteenth century. This has been kept throughout this text. Thus “ye” is “the,” “yt” is “that,” and “ym” is “them. “) All raised letters have been lowered, abbreviations that are not clear have been expanded, and slips of the pen have been corrected silently. A single word may be explained in brackets immediately after its appearance in the text. More lengthy explanations will be given in footnotes. Punctuation, often absent in eighteenth century manuscripts, has been supplied for the sake of clarity, though many sentences are long by modern standards. No attempt at uniform spelling, even of proper names, has been attempted; rather the original text has been followed. For proper names, a single most common spelling has been used in the index.
Each document is given a short introduction which contains the name of the writer and recipient, place written, date written, date received/or read where indicated, Public Record Office location, Egmont Papers location, and the topic or topics treated in the document.