This volume spans the years from 1757 to 1763, a period dominated by the uncertainties caused by the French and Indian War. The volume begins with one of the most dazzling letters ever written in colonial Georgia, the initial letter of Governor Henry Ellis to the Board of Trade after his arrival in Georgia. Dated March 11, 1757, Ellis’ letter summarized his view of the situation in the colony. As an incisive, detailed, highly literate account of Georgia in the critical year of 1757, Ellis’ letter served to establish his reputation as a royal official and to discredit that of his predecessor, Captain John Reynolds.
The volume continues with Ellis’ correspondence, tracing the vagaries of events from 1757 to 1760. Seldom venturing far from Savannah, Ellis concerned himself with the colony’s fortunes, Indian affairs, the state of defenses, land grants, population increase, acquisition and distribution of Indian presents, relations with the Assembly and local Savannahans, wartime emergencies and dislocations, and finally the Bosomworth claims. Increasingly “the affair of the Bosomworths” became the cause celebre of Ellis’ administration. Arising in conflicting land claims dating from the colony’s first settlement, involving relations between London, Savannah, and the Creek Indians, and the personalities and ambitions of Mary and Thomas Bosomworth-the Bosomworth claims exasperated Georgia’s second royal governor. Taking up much of this and the two preceding volumes, the accounts of the Bosomworth affair provide valuable insight into a complicated and inadequately explored aspect of Georgia’s past. Fatigued by the rigors of a southern climate and the tedious detail of his office, Ellis asked for relief after less than three years in Georgia. On October 12, 1760, James Wright arrived in Savannah and soon replaced Ellis, who returned to London and resigned his governorship.
Based upon his long service in the provincial government of South Carolina, James Wright brought to Georgia a deeper understanding of the colony’s role and needs in the expanding southern frontier. Anxious to secure land from the Creeks to allow Georgia’s white population to increase and suspicious of greedy Carolinians, Wright diligently worked to remove obstacles hindering the colony’s growth. To that end he patiently but firmly courted favor with the Board of Trade in London, sending lengthy but pointed reports on Indian affairs, the colony’s expenses and needs, illegal settlements south of the Altamaha, the state of the silk culture, and the necessity of expanding Georgia’s frontiers by a cession from the Creeks. When South Carolina attempted to move into the lands south of the Altamaha after the Treaty of Paris of 1763, Governor Wright already had laid the groundwork for Georgia’s assertion of its claim to the region. It took only a legal protest and caveat to South Carolina and an indignant letter to the Board of Trade to assert Georgia’s natural right to this area. Appropriately this volume closes with an account of the Creek land cession of 1763 and with the customs records of Sunbury, opened in 1763 as the colony’s second port-both clear signs of the progress Wright so ardently desired. Thus 1763 ended on a hopeful note for Georgia, and James Wright confidently reported to London that the colony was in “a flourishing state.”
There is more to this volume than this brief recital presents. The records contain information on almost every facet of Georgia’s history from 1757 to 1763. Estimates of the colony’s annual expenses, official treaties and facts sent to London, reports on wandering bands of Indians and whites, comments on the problems of overseeing a provincial government in an expanding British Empire, and asides on colorful figures and events. All this forms part of the outline of Georgia’s history for these six years. The correspondence of Ellis and Wright stands out for its content and its clarity. Rich in detail and rare in candor, the letters provide essential historical material for further study of this important part of Georgia’s history.
The original volume division and internal arrangement created by Allen D. Candler and Lucien Lamar Knight, the original editors of this series, are 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. 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. All raised letters have been lowered, abbreviations which are not clear have been expanded, and slips of the pen have been corrected silently. 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 and/or read where indicated, Public Record Office location if available, and the topic or topics treated in the document.