James Habersham (c. 1712 – 1775) was a pioneering merchant and statesman in the British North American colony of Georgia. Habersham is credited with opening the first direct trade between Savannah, Georgia and London, England. He was an influential advocate for slavery in the colonies. He served as King Secretary of the Province and as President of the King's Council. In opposition to his adult sons, Habersham remained a Loyalist during the American Revolution.
He was a Christian. He was smart. He was important to Britain.
Habersham helped run the Bethesda Orphanage near Savannah, Georgia. It was there that he married Mary Bolton. In 1744, he became a merchant and set up a partnership with Francis Harris to make commercial trans-Atlantic trips to England. He and Harris's business was considered the first successful commercial endeavor in Georgia. With resources from this business, Habersham acquired land along rivers for rice planting. After the slavery ban in Georgia was lifted, his rice fields developed into a massive 15,000 acre plantation with 200 slaves. James Habersham, a friend of Whitefield's and William Piercy, an English curate whom the Countess of Huntington had appointed the serve as Bethesda's president, wrote the following letters in the spring of 1775.
By the 1750s Habersham had become politically influential. His advocacy for the economic benefits of slavery influenced a repeal on the ban of slavery. He was a senior counselor to the royal government of the colony and in 1754 was appointed King Secretary of the province. Beginning in 1767, Habersham served as president of the Upper House of the General Assembly. As president of the council, he also assumed the position of acting governor of Georgia during the 19-month absence to England of Governor James Wright in 1771/1772. All three of his sons became supporters of the American Revolution, but Habersham pledged his loyalty to the crown. He died August 28, 1775.
- Grey-White, Deborah (2013). Freedom on My Mind. Boston, MA.: Mary V. Dougherty. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-312-64883-1.
- Lambert, Frank (February 14, 2005). James Habersham: loyalty, politics, and commerce in colonial Georgia. Wormsloe Foundation Publication. ISBN 978-0-8203-2539-2.
- "Habersham Family". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
- James Habersham historical marker