Page semi-protected

James Oglethorpe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

James Edward Oglethorpe
James Edward Oglethorpe by Alfred Edmund Dyer.jpg
Governor of Georgia
In office
Prime MinisterSir Robert Walpole
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byWilliam Stephens
Personal details
Born(1696-12-22)22 December 1696
Godalming, Surrey, England
Died30 June 1785(1785-06-30) (aged 88)
Cranham, Essex, England
Spouse(s)Elizabeth (née Wright)
Alma materEton College, Corpus Christi, Oxford, a military academy, Paris, France
ProfessionStatesman, soldier, agriculturalist

James Edward Oglethorpe (22 December 1696[1] – 30 June 1785) was a British soldier, Member of Parliament, and philanthropist, as well as the founder of the colony of Georgia. As a social reformer, he hoped to resettle Britain's worthy poor in the New World, initially focusing on those in debtors' prisons.[2]

Born to a prominent British family, Othethorpe left college in England and a British Army commission to travel to France, where he attended a military academy before fighting under Prince Eugene of Savoy in the Austro-Turkish War. He returned to England in 1718, and was elected to the House of Commons in 1722. His early years were relatively undistinguished until 1729, when Oglethorpe was made chair of the Gaols Committee that investigated British debtors' prisons. After the report was published, to widespread attention, Oglethorpe and others began publicizing the idea of a new colony, to serve as a buffer between the Carolinas and Spanish Florida. After being granted a charter, Oglethorpe sailed to Georgia in November 1732.

He was a major figure in the early history of the colony, holding much civil and military power and instituting a ban on slavery and alcohol. During the War of Jenkins' Ear, Oglethorpe led British troops in Georgia against Spanish forces based in Florida. In 1740, he led a lengthy Siege of St. Augustine, which was unsuccessful. He then defeated a Spanish Invasion of Georgia in 1742. Oglethorpe left the colony after another unsuccessful invasion of St. Augustine, and never returned. He led some British troops in the Jacobite rising of 1745 and was blamed for British defeat in the Clifton Moor Skirmish. Despite being cleared in a court martial, Oglethorpe would never hold British command again. Oglethrope lost reelection to the House of Commons in 1754. He left England served undercover in the Prussian Army during the Seven Years' War. In his later years, Oglethorpe was prominent in literary circles, becoming close to James Boswell and Samuel Johnson.

Early life and family

His family history dates back to William the Conquerer. They supported Charles I, an unpopular monarch. They suffered under Oliver Cromwell, but regained favor during the Stuart Restoration. Theophilus Oglethorpe, the head of the family, lived next to the royal residences at Whitehall, he and his brothers were members of Parliament. At Whitehall Theophilus met Eleanor Wall, one of Queen Anne’s ladies-in-waiting, the two fell in love and married in 1680. They had ten children: Lewis, Anne, Eleanor, Theophilus Jr., James, Frances Charlotte, Sutton, Louise Mary, and James Edward. James Edward was the Oglethorpes’ youngest child and their fifth son.[3] He was born on December 22, 1696.[4][a] Little is known about Oglethorpe's early life.[7] He was named James after James II, reflecting his families royalist sympathies and Edward after James Francis Edward Stuart. Oglethorpe was baptized on December 23 at St Martin-in-the-Fields.[8]

Early military career

Oglethorpe's father bought him a commission in Queen Anne's 1st regiment of Foot Guards as an ensign in 1707,[9] he was commissioned to be Lieutenant unassigned on 21 November 1713 with the rank of Captain of Foot (Infantry). Following the footsteps of his older brothers, he entered Eton College. His mother managed to have him enter Corpus Christi College, Oxford where he matriculated on 8 July 1714 with Basil Kennett as his tutor.[10] His army commission was renewed in 1715 by George I but he resigned on November 23, 1715, in part because the Foot Guards were not expected to see action.[11][12][13]

Oglethorpe then traveled to France where both his sisters Anne and Fanny lived, he attended the military academy at Lompres, near Paris, where he met and befriended fellow-student James Francis Edward Keith.[14][12] The following year, intending to fight in the Austro-Turkish War, he travelled to serve under military commander Prince Eugene of Savoy. With a letter of recommendation from the Duke of Argyle and several other prominent Britons, Oglethorpe and Louis François Crozat arrived and with Infante Manuel, Count of Ourém entered the Prince's service on 3 August as an aide-de-camp. Oglethorpe was present at the Battle of Petrovaradin in August 1716, although not actively engaged, at the Siege of Timisoara in September that same year he served as aide-de-camp.[11][15][13] He found active command at the Siege of Belgrade, from 19 June to 16 August. After the death of his superior in combat, on 16 August, Oglethorpe as the most senior aide-de-camp acted ad adjutant general; as such he took possession of the Turkish camp, and reported to the Prince the casualty report.[16][13] After the battle, he was offered the rank of lieutenant colonel in the army— which he never accepted.[13]

Oglethorpe then fought in Sicily under General Georg Olivier Wallis in 1718 for several weeks. By 19 September, he had returned to England. Despite his hope otherwise, Oglethorpe was refused a commission in the British Army and was briefly back at Corpus Christi beginning on 25 June 1719.[11][13][17]

As a Member of Parliament

When he was twenty-six, Oglethorpe inherited the family estate at Godalming in Surrey from his brother.[11][18] He was first elected to the House of Commons as a Tory aligned with William Windham in 1722,[19] representing Halsemere.[18] Oglethorpe remained unchallenged until 1734.[20] He almost did not serve when, in a drunken brawl, he killed a man and spent five months in prison, before he was cleared of murder[21] through the influence of a powerful friend and released from prison. He took his seat in the House of Commons on 9 October.[22]

Oglethorpe was, according to Pitofsky, "among the least productive representatives". In six years after his initial election, he was actively involved in only two debates.[19] In contrast, Sweet writes that Oglethorpe was an "eloquent yet honest" speaker who had strong Tory principals and genuinely cared about the conditions of his constituents. He served on forty different committees that investigated widely varied topics.[18] His first participation in debate was on April 6, 1723, when Oglethorpe opposed the banishment of the bishop Francis Atterbury, who had been accused of supporting James Francis Edward Stuart. He failed in this effort.[23]

In response to the poor living and working conditions of sailors in the Royal Navy, Oglethorpe published an anonymous pamphlet titled "The Sailors Advocate" in 1728 about press gangs and pay issues.[b] It was 52 pages long and argued for reforming and strengthening the Navy as well as advocating against impressment. However, he proposed few real solutions apart from analysing the work of navies of other countries. Sweet considers that it marks the beginning of Oglethorpe's philanthropy and writes that it "gave Oglethorpe the practical experience necessary to undertake future efforts more successfully".[26] The pamphlet was reprinted several times throughout the 18th century.[27]

Gaols Committee

Thomas Bambridge (standing, far left) being questioned by Oglethorpe (believed to be the figure seated, far left, in front of Bainbridge) of the parliamentary Gaols Committee.

His initial interest in the conditions began after Oglethorpe's friend Robert Castell died in debtors prison. Oglethorpe motioned to investigate the warden of the prison, and was made chairman of the resulting committee on 25 February 1729. As chair of the 'Gaols Committee', he began touring debtors prisons in late February and the following month finished the first of three detailed reports presented to parliament. In the reports various abuses in the prisons were profiled, including torturing, overcrowding, and widespread disease. The reports particularly attacked Thomas Bambridge, the warden of Fleet Prison, where Castell had died. He urged for reform of the prisons, mainly through prosecution of those in charge of them. Most of the blame was laid on the individual prison wardens, rather than the system as a whole. While these reports attracted much attention, there was little real change.[19][28] The investigation ended on 14 May.[29]

In the aftermath (the final report was presented on 8 May 1730), Oglethorpe and the committee were praised by prominent Britons such as Alexander Pope, James Thomson, Samuel Wesley, and William Hogarth. Pitofsky writes that there was seemingly a "great deal of popular support for the committee". However, Conservative members of the House of Commons attempted to prevent much change through deriding members of the committee as "amateurs and zealots" and preventing the wardens from being jailed. On 3 April 1730, a bill drafted by Oglethorpe was presented to the House; it would have removed Bambridge from his position. It was adopted in a revised form six weeks later by both Houses. However, recommendations for a bill to better oversee Fleet Prison were discarded. In the Trial of William Acton for murdering four debtors, Acton was acquitted. Oglethorpe felt that the proceedings had been manipulated. Bambridge was acquitted of charges as well. Oglethorpe denounced both acquittals. Shortly afterwards, Oglethorpe disbanded the committee. He led another committee of the same nature in 1754.[30] British authors such as Samuel Wesley and James Thomson wrote about the committees work.[31]

Oglethorpe, a committed advocate against alcohol, proposed a tax on malt in the same session the Gaols Committee was authorized. He argued against a royal grant 115,000 pounds to cover arrearages, considering it extravagant. Oglethorpe also initially opposed Britain being involved in making peace in Europe, but by 1730 had begun advocating military preparedness.[32] In the 1732 Parliamentary session, Oglethorpe staunchly opposed the administration's policy of disarmament and continued to emphasize the need for preparedness.[33] In 1731, Oglethorpe served on a committee investigating the Charitable Corporation.[34]

Establishment of Georgia

While working on the Gaols Committee, Oglethorpe met and became close to John Perceval (who later became First Earl of Egmont). In 1730, Oglethorpe shared a plan to establish a new American colony with Perceval. The colony would be a place to send "the unemployed and the unemployable", and he anticipated broad societal support. Initially, there was no set location for this colony, but it soon became clear that a colony south of the Savannah River would be supported by the House of Commons, as it could provide a 'buffer' between the prosperous Carolinas and Spanish Florida. People sent to the colony would serve as both soldiers and farmers, making the colony "South Carolina's first line of defence".[11] On November 12, 1730, the Bray Associates announced a plan to increase support for their proposed colony through a promotional campain, which mainly consisted of producing promotional literature. Baine writes that beginning in 1730, Oglethorpe "directed the promotional campaign and wrote, or edited, almost all of the promotional literature until he sailed for Georgia".[35] The first written work about the proposal was by Oglethorpe and titled 'Some accounts of the design of the trustees for establishing colonys in America'. Though it was finished in spring 1731 and never published, Benjamin Martyn drew on it when writing his 1732 book Some Account of the Designs of the Trustees for Establishing the Colony of Georgia in America.[11] [c]

Oglethorpe arranged for Martyn's work to be widely read; in addition to being independently published, it appeared in The London Journal, the Country Journal, the Gentlemen's Magazine, and the South Carolina Gazette. Various notices seeking donations and people willing to emigrate to the colony were published in other English newspapers.[36] In November 1732, Oglethorpe had Select Tracts Relating to Colonies published.[37] In 1733, Reasons for Establishing the Colony of Georgia in America, written by Martyn, and A New and Accurate Account of the Provinces of South-Carolina and Georgia, by Oglethorpe, were published.[11] Oglethorpe is thought to have paid for the publication ofSelect Tracts and A New and Accurate Account.[38] In 1732, Oglethrope advocated for extending Thomas Lombe's patent on a silk engine.[39]

In June 1732, Oglethorpe, Perceval, Martyn, and a group of other prominent Britons (collectively known as the Trustees for the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia in America) petitioned for and were eventually granted a royal charter to establish the colony of Georgia between the Savannah River and the Altamaha River on 9 June 1732.[11][40] That summer, a letter written by Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, an enslaved merchant, reached Oglethorpe. He purchased and freed Diallo.[41] Oglethorpe was made a director or assistant of the Royal African Company in January 1731, and elected a deputy governor in 1732.[42] He sold his stock and resigned after the 'Diallo incident' and shortly before leaving for Georgia.[43] Oglethorpe left England for Georgia with 114 others on November 15 or 17, 1732.[36][44]

In Georgia

When Oglethorpe arrived on February 1, 1733,[44] Spalding notes that Oglethorpe chose to settle "as far from the Spanish as he geographically could". As Spain disliked their presence in the region, Oglethorpe was careful to mantain good relations with the Native Americans who lived in the region. Left for England and expanded Georgia further south when he returned. When Oglethorpe returned to England in 1737 he was confronted by an angry British and Spanish government.[45] That year, Oglethorpe granted land to 40 Jewish settlers against the orders of the Georgia trustees.[46]

On December 4, 1731, Oglethorpe entered into a partnership with Jean-Pierre Pury to settle land in South Carolina. He gained a 1/4 stake in a 3,000 acre plot of land. His holdings, termed the 'Oglethorpe Barony' were located at the 'Palachocolas', a crossing of the Savannah River in Granville County. He may have held the tract, around 2,060 acres, for the Trustees.[47] From 1732 to 1738, Oglethorpe was the de facto leader of Georgia and dominated both the military and the civil aspects of the country. From 1738 to 1743 he commanded a British regiment and was also involved in civil affairs before returning to England. While he was involved with the colony, Oglethorpe was the most prominent trustee and the only one to actually live in the colony.[48]

Early influence

Oglethorpe and the Indians, frieze in the United States Capitol Rotunda. Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol

Oglethorpe and the Trustees formulated a contractual, multi-tiered plan for the settlement of Georgia (see the Oglethorpe Plan). The plan envisioned a system of "agrarian equality", designed to support and perpetuate an economy based on family farming, and prevent social disintegration associated with unregulated urbanisation. Land ownership was limited to fifty acres, a grant that included a town lot, a garden plot near town, and a forty-five-acre farm. Self-supporting colonists were able to obtain larger grants, but such grants were structured in fifty-acre increments tied to the number of indentured servants supported by the grantee. Servants would receive a land grant of their own upon completing their term of service. No one was permitted to acquire additional land through purchase or inheritance.[49]

Despite arriving in Georgia with relatively limited authority, Oglethorpe soon became the main authority. Lannen writes that he "became everything to everyone". He negotiated with the Yamacraw Indians, becoming the colonies ambassador to native tribes, commanded the militia, directed the building of Savannah and generally supervised the colony. In early 1733, "every matter of importance was brought first to Oglethorpe". He lived in a tent separated from the rest of the colonists; some of them called him "father". In June 1733, Oglethorpe travelled to Charleston. In his absence, the citizens Savannah had a disagreement over the authority of the man left in charge. They waited for Oglethorpe to return and resolve it. It was not until July that a separate court was established, but Oglethorpe continued to hold the civil power. [50]

When Oglethorpe arrived in Georgia, Native Americans were well into the process of integration with the Europeans.[51] He saw Native Americans as participants in the new economy Europeans brought to America.[52] Weaver notes that he was known for "fair dealing with the Indians". He negotiated with Tomochichi, chief of the Yamacraw tribe for land to build Savannah on.[53]

In March 1734[54] Oglethorpe visited Britain aboard HMS Aldborough, taking with him a delegation of Creek Indians,[55][53] including Tomichi, who was invited by the Georgia trustees to be present during the formal ratification of Oglethorpe's treaty with the Yamcraw. The delegation arrived on June 16,[53] and met George II and his family at Kensington Palace. Oglethorpe was widely acclaimed in London, although his expansionism was not welcomed in all quarters. The Duke of Newcastle, who directed British foreign policy, had tried to restrain James Oglethorpe's efforts in the colony for fear of offending the Spanish, whom Newcastle wished unsuccessfully to court as an ally. Newcastle eventually relented, and became a supporter of the colony admitting "it will now be pretty difficult to give up Georgia".[56] The colony's existence was one of several disputes which worsened Anglo-Spanish relations in the late 1730s.[57]

When Oglethorpe returned to England in 1734, he had left an authority vacuum behind. There was disagreement between the civil and military authorities until he returned in February 1736. For the nine months that he remained in the colony, Oglethorpe was mainly at Frederica, where he again held the most authority. He drilled soldiers and oversaw the construction of a fort. In May he traveled to Savannah and heard 300–400 complaints, serving as "supreme civil authority". Increasingly, however, Oglethorpe focused on Georgia's southern border and military matters. He remained confident in the belief that he was "best suited to govern". Oglethorpe left the colony in November to request a military regiment, leaving behind another 'power vacuum'. Discontent increased, which Oglethorpe considered a symptom of his absence.[54]

War of Jenkins' Ear

Statue of James Oglethorpe at the Augusta Common, an open space he personally designed when co-founding the city in 1735.[58]

When Oglethorpe left England the first time, Robert Walpole had ordered him to avoid intentional conflict with Spain.[59] However, given the intended function of Georgia as a 'buffer', Oglethorpe considered conflict with Spain to be essentially inevitable. In 1737 Thomas Pelham-Holles granted him permission to raise the forty-second regiment for defense of Georgia's border with Spanish Florida.[60] He was promoted to the rank of colonel on September 10, 1737.[61] The following year, 246 soldiers of the 25th Regiment of Foot were incorporated into the regiment. After three further companies were recruited in England, the regiment was stationed at Fort Frederica. A Spanish invasion of the colony was planned in March 1738, but cancelled.[60] In response to Oglethorpe gaining formal control of a regiment, other trustees—mainly Edward Vernon—became more vocal in insisting that Oglethorpe stay out of the colonies civil affairs. They also accused him of being an opportunist by starting to vote with Robert Walpole and felt Oglethorpe did not adequately keep the trustees informed of affairs in the colonies. Before allowing Oglethorpe to return to Georgia, they had "laboured to abridge his power". In October 1738 he returned to Frederica and soon had re-assumed his role as de facto leader of the colony.[62]

He began to prepare for a war after as early as 1738. He raised additional troops and rented or purchased several boats after the Royal Navy refused to station a ship there. Oglethorpe spent his whole fortune, £103,395,[d] on building up Georgia's defenses. He also allowed a pirate to attack Spanish shipping and worked to secure the support of the Native Americans in the area by meeting with them. He soon became very sick, and remained in poor health for the duration of the campaign.[60] While Oglethorpe was preparing for war, he also worked to combine civil and military authority. He increasingly ignored the wishes of the other trustees, for instance not passing on a change in the land policy when he felt that the colonists would object to it.[64] The War of Jenkins' Ear broke out in 1739.[65]

After receiving a letter from King George II on September 7, 1739, Oglethorpe began encouraging the Creek Indians to attack Spain. In response to a Spanish attack in November, he led 200 men in a raid on Florida, on December 1. They penetrated as far as Fort Picolata, but retreated when it became clear they had insufficient firepower to take the fort. The troops were then ordered to attack the Castillo de San Marcos with support from Virginia and South Carolina. After Oglethorpe sent William Bull a list of the supplies he needed on December 29, he launched an invasion on January 1, 1740, again with 200 men. They captured Fort Picolata and Fort St. Francis de Pupa, burning the former and claiming the latter for Georgia. After leaving some troops at de Pupa, Oglethorpe returned to Georgia on January 11.[66]

Oglethorpe Greeting the Highlanders of Darien, the 42nd Regiment of Foot (old)

After South Carolina was slow in providing aid, Oglethorpe traveled to Charleston, and arrived on March 23, where he spoke with the Commons House of Assembly. They eventually agreed to provide 300 of Oglethorpe's requested 800 men. The assembly also agreed to send provisions to keep the Native Americans on their side. Twenty South Carolinian arrived by April 23 and another hundred by May 9. After receiving these men, Oglethorpe attacked Fort St. Diego on May 10 and had captured it by May 12. On May 18, the commander of South Carolina's regiment arrived and by the end of the month there were 376 members present. Its size peaked at 512 members, 47 volunteers, and 54 men who were to remain on the schooner Pearl. The colony also sent artillery and ships, leading Oglethorpe to conclude that South Carolina had given "all the assistance they could".[67]

Oglethorpe was also aided by some Native Americans. He struggled with a lack of equipment and skill needed to take a besieged city; there were no engineers, draft horses, or gunners. Upon his request, several other colonies sent supplies, notably Rhode Island and Virginia. The royal navy provided a poor blockade of St. Augustine, fully beginning only on 31 May. As early as April, St. Augustine had begun preparing for a siege, and throughout May and June Oglethorpe planned how he would take the city. He initially planned for a siege and a assault, but this quickly proved impractical given his lack of supplies. Next, Oglethorpe instituted a blockade that was designed to starve the inhabitants of the city into surrender; this was accomplished with the Royal Navy and soldiers on the land. Fort St. Francis de Pupa was used to block supplies entering through the St. John's River.[68]

On June 15, the main contingent of soldiers were resoundingly defeated by an attack by the Spanish and Yamasee Indians. Later that month, a flotilla aimed at reinforcing the city slipped through the blockade. As the navy was going to leave upon the start of the hurricane season on July 5, Oglethorpe then planned to launch a combined assault, from the land and water. After delays, the plan was abandoned on July 2 when the navy announced an intent to leave on July 4. Oglethorpe briefly considered holding the siege with 200 seamen and a sloop, but decided the idea was impractical. Finally, Oglethorpe was forced to abandon the siege. He commanded the rear guard during the retreat.[68] The trustees presented a 1741 plan to divide Georgia into two sections, but Oglethorpe refused to work with them.[69]

Spain launched a counter-invasion of Georgia in 1742. Oglethorpe led his force in a defeat of Spain,[70] decisively winning the Battle of Bloody Marsh.[64] On 25 February 1742 he was made a brigadier general.[71] He led another unsuccessful attack on St. Augustine in 1743.[64] That year, William Stephens was named the president of Georgia. The appointment was a product of the trustees frustration with Oglethorpe's lack of cooperation. He continued to hold practical control over Frederica and let Stevens control Savannah. Stevens government began to not always defer to Oglethorpe's wishes, as did local officials. In response, Oglethorpe made another bid to hold his power, feeling Georgia functioned best "when there other but himself to direct and determine all controversies".[72]

The ODNB considers that Oglethorpe's "military contribution was of the very highest order and significance".[11] While the loss of the Siege of Augustine was attributed by some to Oglethorpe, Baine concludes that "Oglethorpe certainly made mistakes of generalship, but he was not the principal cause of its failure".[73] The war ended in November 1748 and the 42 Regiment of Foot was removed from Georgia.[74] By 1749, the trustees had lost most of their interest in Gorgia, and they gave up its charter three years later.[75]


In what was known as the Georgia Experiment, Georgia initially banned black slavery in the colony.[e] Oglethorpe opposed slavery because he felt that it prevented Georgia from serving as an effective buffer, because he felt slaves would work with the Spanish to gain their freedom. Further, Georgia was not intended to develop a thriving economy like the Carolina's, and thus didn't need to use slaves. The colonies economy was intended to be based on silk and wine, which made large scale slavery unnecessary. He also felt that slavery would have a negative effect on "the manners and morality of Georgia's white inhabitants". After the urging of Oglethorpe and other trustees, slavery was banned by the House of Commons in 1735.[11]

A ship holding forty Irish servants arrived in Savannah on January 10, 1734. They served as indentured servants and Oglethorpe considered them "very usefull [sic]". Others, such as South Carolinian Samuel Eveleigh, considered them problematic, and attempted to convince Oglethorpe that they should be substituted with slaves.[77] While it is often reported that they behaved very poorly and were all felons, Baine considers it far more likely that most if not all came to Georgia "of their own volition" and further writes that "the misconduct of some of the Irish servants" is exaggerated.[78]

Oglethorpe was heavily criticized by many for supporting the ban in the late 1730s, and after he won the Battle of Bloody Marsh and returned to England the trustees requested that the ban be ended in 1750.[11] It has been suggested, first by William Stephens in his diary, that Oglethorpe held slaves on his land in South Carolina while slavery was banned in Georgia, but Wilkins writes that the veracity of the claim is "uncertain"—there is no direct evidence supporting it—and he concludes that "the probability appears low that [...] Oglethorpe owned slaves." [79]

The Duke of Cumberland

Return to England

Oglethorpe returned to England after the last attack on St. Augustine failed. He continued to be somewhat involved in the colonies affairs, attempting to stop a distinction being established between holding civil and military power,[72] but he never returned to Georgia and generally was disinterested in the activities of the trustees. Oglethorpe was briefly subject to a court-martial, where it was alleged he misused funds. He was found innocent. Oglethorpe married Elizabeth Wright on September 15, 1744.[80]

Oglethorpe fought in the British Army during the Jacobite rising of 1745. By then a major-general, he took command of troops that were mustering in York, England, about 600 men. Scots invading under Charles Edward Stuart penetrated into England. Oglethorpe was tasked with intercepting retreating Scots before they reached Preston, Lancashire in December 1945. On the 17th, he was initially ordered to engage with the rear of the Scots, led by George Murray, at Shap. The orders were amended to trap the Scots in town early the next morning upon Oglethorpe's intelligence, but the Scots left as the orders were changed. The following day, Oglethorpe travelled to Clifton and took a bridge from the Scots before the Clifton Moor Skirmish that evening. At the skirmish, the British were defeated. Because Oglethorpe had allowed Scots to escape from Shap, he was blamed with the defeat, accused of disobeying orders, and potentially being a Jacobite. The following year, Oglethorpe was court martialled for his actions. After a lengthy defense, he was acquitted by a panel of twelve high-ranking military officials, led by Thomas Wentworth.[81] On September 19, 1747, Oglethorpe was promoted to lieutenant general.[82] However, the Duke of Cumberland, who had been in command at Clifton Moor, 'blacklisted' Oglethorpe from holding command.[81]

He then worked on various reform efforts, with little success, until Oglethorpe and Philip Russell lost their parliament seat to James More Molyneux and Philip Carteret Webb in 1754. Oglethorpe's loss has been attributed to his moving to Essex and supporting the Jewish Naturalization Act, but Baine considers that the election was "rigged against him". Webb and Moluneux gained control of the constituency's steward, bailiff, and constable. They allowed more voters to be admitted than were qualified, in a process known as faggot voting. Around fifty more people voted in the 1754 election than had the previous cycle, in stark contrast to voter numbers that had remained essentially the same since Oglethorpe was elected. While Oglethorpe and Burrell protested to parliament, the election results were upheld.[83][80]

Retirement and death

Little is known about Oglethorpe's later life.[7] After retirement, he became friends with various literary figures in London, including Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Hannah More and Oliver Goldsmith. Oglethorpe and Boswell became particularly close.[84][85] Boswell and Johnson offered to write a biography of Oglethorpe, and Boswell began to collect materials, but no such volume was ever published.[85]

From 1755 to 1761 Oglethorpe was out of England. Very little is known about what he did over these six years; they are referred to as his "missing years". On September 22, he had unsuccessfully petitioned George III to reactivate his Georgia regiment, and by December 9 Oglethorpe had left England and arrived in Rotterdam. There he requested a position in the military of Prussia from his friend James Francis Edward Keith, who Oglethorpe had fought with in the 1710s. There are no records of what happened to Oglethorpe in the five years after he wrote a letter to Keith on May 3, 1756. Boswell wrote that he "went abroad in 1756 to his freind [sic] Keith [...] fought in the army" and "was with Keith when killed". Baine concludes that Oglethorpe took the pseudonym 'John Tebay' and likely joined the Prussian army in mid to late 1756. He was likely with Keith and Frederick the Great during the campaigns of the Seven Years' War. He probably left the army to visit family over part of the winter. In early 1758 Oglethorpe was almost discovered by Joseph Yorke , an Englishman. He was wounded at a battle on October 14. Keith reportedly fell into Oglethorpe's arms when he was killed at the Battle of Hochkirch. He left the army in March 1759 and had returned to England by October 1761.[86]

In May 1768, during the French conquest of Corsica, Oglethorpe pseudonymously published three essays in support of Corsican independence. He advocated strongly in favor of their independence, along with Boswell.[87]

As colonists in America became increasingly vocal about perceived injustices, Oglethorpe did not publicly speak out, though he privately sympathized with them. From June 1777 to April 1778 Oglethorpe and Granville Sharp unsuccessfully attempted to convince the British leadership to end the war and give the colonists rights as full Englishmen.[84] There was a claim that Oglethorpe was offered refusal to command the British Army in the American Revolutionary War, a claim that Spalding notes scholars have been "unable to discover a shred of truth" to.[88] In June 1785, Oglethorpe met John Adams twice in London.[89]

Died on July 1, 1785 at an estate in Cranham, near London.[90] The cause of death is unknown, though it is thought to have been a disease like Influenza that worsened into pneumonia.[91]

Legacy and memorials

Oglethorpe County and Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, as well as the town of Oglethorpe, Georgia, are all named in his honour.[92] Also, The James Oglethorpe Primary School in Cranham is named after him.

In 1986 the Corps of Cadets at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Georgia officially adopted the name of the unit as the "Boar's Head Brigade". The name came from the Boar's Head on the Department Crest approved by the U.S. Army Adjutant General on August 11, 1937. The Boar's Head was a part of the family crest of James Oglethorpe, and is a symbol of fighting spirit and hospitality so deeply a part of Georgia's heritage and the spirit of the Corps of Cadets at the University of North Georgia.[93]

All Saints' was rebuilt c.1871. However, the new church stands on the same foundations as the old one, and Oglethorpe's poetic marble memorial is on the south wall of the chancel, as before. In the 1930s, the president of Oglethorpe University Thornwell Jacobs excavated the Oglethorpe family vault in the centre of the chancel at All Saints', although permission to translate the General's relics to a purpose-built shrine at Oglethorpe University (Atlanta) had been refused by the Archdeacon.

There is a bronze statue in Chippewa Square, Savannah, Georgia, created by sculptor Daniel Chester French and unveiled in 1910. Oglethorpe faces south, toward Georgia's one-time enemy in Spanish Florida, and his sword is drawn.[94]

Oglethorpian anniversaries have since led to the donation of the altar rail at All Saints' by a ladies charity in Georgia. In 1996, then Georgia Governor Zell Miller attended Oglethorpe tercentenary festivities in Godalming and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.[95]

Corpus Christi College holds two portraits of Oglethorpe, a drawing of the general as an old man, which hangs in the Senior Common Room, and a portrait in oils, which hangs in the Breakfast Room.[96]

See also


  1. ^ When Oglethorpe died, his age was misreported in various publications as one hundred years or over. His age was commonly over-reported until the publication of James Edward Oglethorpe: Imperial Idealist in 1936. This was likely because the last known sketch of Oglethorpe four months before his death, by Samuel Ireland, was titled "Genl Oglethorpe, aged 102"[5]. John Nichols wrote in an issue of the Gentleman's Magazine that Oglethorpe "was always unable to tell his age: perhaps he was not certain about it". Hudson speculates that the discrepancy is due to the fact that the Oglethorpes had another child named James before him.[6]
  2. ^ While Oglethorpe never formally admitted to writing the pamphlet, many of his biographers attribute it to him. Church writes that the pamphlet's "actual writer is undoubtedly Oglethorpe".[24] None of the pamphlets that Oglethorpe is thought to have written had his name on them.[25]
  3. ^ There is some speculation that Oglethorpe himself wrote the book. Trevor R. Reese writes in The Most Delightful Country of the Universe that if Oglethorpe wrote the book, he "probably received assistance from the Trustees' secretary, Benjamin Martyn, and it is conceivable that Martyn was, in fact, the author".[35] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography treats Martyn's authorship as fact.[11] Similarly, Oglethorpe is generally thought to have edited the 1732 Select Tracts Relating to Colonies, though there is some uncertainty.[35]
  4. ^ Oglethorpe hoped Parliament would repay him, and while most was, some debt was still unpaid when he died.[63]
  5. ^ The enslavement of Native Americans was "common and permitted", according to Thomas Hart Wilkins.[76]


  1. ^ Dates follow the Julian calendar up to 2 September 1752 and the Gregorian calendar thereafter. Britain and her American colonies changed on that date and the following day was 14 September. The intervening eleven days were omitted.
  2. ^ "James Edward Oglethorpe," Encyclopædia Britannica, accessed 13 December 2010.
  3. ^ Hudson 1996, pp. 344–345.
  4. ^ Hudson 1996, p. 342.
  5. ^ Hudson 1996, pp. 342–343.
  6. ^ Hudson 1996, pp. 344–346.
  7. ^ a b Spalding 1972, p. 333.
  8. ^ Hudson 1996, p. 346.
  9. ^ Gruber, I.D. (2010). Books and the British Army in the Age of the American Revolution. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-9940-3. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  10. ^ Ettinger & Spalding 1984, p. 7.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Wood, Betty. "Oglethorpe, James Edward". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/20616. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  12. ^ a b Baine & Williams 2009, p. 113.
  13. ^ a b c d e Baine & Williams 1985a, pp. 63–64; 67–76.
  14. ^ Ettinger & Spalding 1984, p. 8.
  15. ^ Baine & Williams 2009, pp. 113–114.
  16. ^ Spalding, P.; Jackson, H.H. (2006). Oglethorpe in Perspective: Georgia's Founder After Two Hundred Years. University of Alabama Press. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-8173-5345-2.
  17. ^ Baine 2000, p. 202.
  18. ^ a b c Sweet 2007, p. 2.
  19. ^ a b c Pitofsky 2000, pp. 88–91, 94.
  20. ^ Ettinger & Spalding 1984, pp. 15.
  21. ^ Harkins, S.S. (2010). Georgia: The Debtors Colony. Building America. Mitchell Lane Publishers, Incorporated. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-61228-007-3.
  22. ^ Russell, D.L. (2006). Oglethorpe and Colonial Georgia: A History, 1733-1783. McFarland & Company. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-7864-2233-3.
  23. ^ Ettinger & Spalding 1984, p. 16.
  24. ^ Sweet 2007, p. 10.
  25. ^ Baine 1988, p. 105.
  26. ^ Sweet 2007, pp. 10–11; 16.
  27. ^ Sweet 2007, pp. 24.
  28. ^ Baine 1989, p. 67.
  29. ^ Pitofsky 2000, p. 95.
  30. ^ Pitofsky 2000, pp. 95–97; 101.
  31. ^ Boys 1947, p. 20–21.
  32. ^ Ettinger & Spalding 1984, p. 20.
  33. ^ Ettinger & Spalding 1984, p. 22.
  34. ^ Ettinger & Spalding 1984, p. 25.
  35. ^ a b c Baine 1988, pp. 100–101.
  36. ^ a b Baine 1988, p. 103.
  37. ^ Baine 1988, p. 104.
  38. ^ Baine 1988, p. 106.
  39. ^ Ettinger & Spalding 1984, p. 24.
  40. ^ "The Avalon Project : Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy". Archived from the original on 7 June 2004.
  41. ^ Weaver 2011, pp. 418–419.
  42. ^ Ettinger & Spalding 1984, p. 30.
  43. ^ Judy 1993, p. 150.
  44. ^ a b Sweet 2011, p. 2.
  45. ^ Spalding 1994, pp. 464–465.
  46. ^ Baine 1987, p. 455.
  47. ^ Wilkins 2004, pp. 87; 89–91.
  48. ^ Lannen 2011, pp. 205–206.
  49. ^ Lane, Mills, ed., General Oglethorpe's Georgia, Colonial Letters, 1733–1743, Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990, 4 July 1739; Moore, A Voyage to Georgia, Fort Frederica Association, 2002, originally published by author in London, 1744, see page 22; Oglethorpe, James Edward, Some Account of the Design of the Trustees for establishing colonies in America, Rodney M. Baine and Phinizy Spalding, eds., Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990; Diary of the Viscount Percival, 1: 303; 1: 370 (1 Dec 1732, 30 April 1733).
  50. ^ Lannen 2011, pp. 207–209.
  51. ^ Weaver 2011, p. 456.
  52. ^ "English Trade in Deerskins and Indian Slaves". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  53. ^ a b c Weaver 2011, p. 422.
  54. ^ a b Lannen 2011, pp. 209–214.
  55. ^ Susan C. Power (1 January 2007). Art of the Cherokee: Prehistory to the Present. University of Georgia Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-8203-2766-2.
  56. ^ Browning p.88
  57. ^ Cate, Margaret Davis (June 1943). "Fort Frederica and the Battle of Bloody Marsh". The Georgia Historical Quarterly. Georgia, USA: Georgia Historical Society. 27 (2): 112. JSTOR 40576871.
  58. ^ Cashin, Edward J. (Fall 2004). "Glimpses of Oglethorpe in Boswell's Life of Johnson". Georgia Historical Quarterly. Georgia Historical Society. 88 (3): 398–405. ISSN 0016-8297.
  59. ^ Spalding 1994, p. 463.
  60. ^ a b c Baine 2000, pp. 202–203.
  61. ^ "No. 7641". The London Gazette. 1 October 1737. p. 1.
  62. ^ Lannen 2011, pp. 215–217.
  63. ^ Baine 2000, pp. 204–.
  64. ^ a b c Lannen 2011, p. 219.
  65. ^ Spalding 1994, p. 464.
  66. ^ Baine 2000, pp. 204–207.
  67. ^ Baine 2000, pp. 208–210.
  68. ^ a b Baine 2000, pp. 211–224.
  69. ^ Lannen 2011, p. 220.
  70. ^ Spalding 1994, pp. 467–468.
  71. ^ "No. 8200". The London Gazette. 22 February 1742. p. 3.
  72. ^ a b Lannen 2011, p. 220–222; 225.
  73. ^ Baine 2000, p. 229.
  74. ^ Lannen 2011, p. 203.
  75. ^ Lannen 2011, p. 231.
  76. ^ Wilkins 2004, p. 93.
  77. ^ Baine 1994, pp. 326 328.
  78. ^ Baine 1994, pp. 333 336.
  79. ^ Wilkins 2004, pp. 85; 92–94.
  80. ^ a b Sweet 2011, p. 3.
  81. ^ a b Cashin 1992, pp. 87–99.
  82. ^ "No. 8682". The London Gazette. 6 October 1747. p. 1.
  83. ^ Baine 1987, pp. 451–460.
  84. ^ a b Sweet 2011, p. 4.
  85. ^ a b Boys 1947, p. 19–20.
  86. ^ Baine & Williams 1985b, pp. 193–194; 197–210.
  87. ^ Cole 1990, p. 463.
  88. ^ Spalding 1974, p. 56.
  89. ^ Sweet 2011, pp. 1.
  90. ^ Hudson 1996, pp. 342, 344.
  91. ^ Spalding 1973, p. 231.
  92. ^ "Oglethorpe University : In Depth". Archived from the original on 10 May 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  93. ^ Stein, B.J.; Capelotti, P.J. (1993). U.S. Army Heraldic Crests: A Complete Illustrated History of Authorized Distinctive Unit Insignia. University of South Carolina Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-87249-963-8.
  94. ^ Press, U.G.; Council, G.H. (1996). The New Georgia Guide. University of Georgia Press. p. 667. ISBN 978-0-8203-1799-1.
  95. ^ "Photo Review: Oglethorpe Tercentenary Delegation to England". GeorgiaInfo, University of Georgia. Archived from the original on 9 October 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  96. ^ Spalding, P.; Jackson, H.H. (2006). Oglethorpe in Perspective: Georgia's Founder After Two Hundred Years. University of Alabama Press. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-8173-5345-2.




Further reading

External links

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Nicholas Carew
Peter Burrell
Member of Parliament for Haslemere
With: Peter Burrell
Succeeded by
James More Molyneux
Philip Carteret Webb