James E. Oglethorpe – Father of Georgia

At one of the meetings of the Trustees, it was suggested that a member of the Board, a man of education and ability, should go over to America with the first colonists as their Governor and live in Georgia with them until they were well and thoroughly established. Oglethorpe nobly volunteered to go, and the Trustees were delighted. In undertaking this trying service, Oglethorpe would have to give up his luxurious home, the pleasures of refined society, and the splendid public career that was fast opening to him in England and would have to endure untold hardships, privations, and dangers.

At that time, he was 43 years old and was yet unmarried. When it was known that the great and good Oglethorpe himself would accompany the expedition, hundreds and hundreds of poor people, debtors and others, were anxious to go, but, only a few could be taken. Out of the hundreds of applicants, the Trustees carefully selected 40 strong, healthy men of good morals and with small families. Altogether, men, women, and children, the party consisted of 120 souls.

The good ship, Anne, a sailing vessel of two hundred tons burden, was chartered to take the emigrants across the ocean to America. In her hold, as she lay moored to the wharf at Gravesend, were stored provisions, tools, and implements for the journey and for getting the colony well established in Georgia. Everything was then ready for the voyage.

The landing of James Oglethorpe in Georgia

The landing of James Oglethorpe in Georgia

On November 16, 1732, Oglethorpe and his colonists left England and arrived in Charleston, South Carolina on January 13, 1733. There he obtained the advice and assistance of Governor Robert Johnson. Before moving the emigrants into Georgia, Oglethorpe, with help from the South Carolina colonists, searched for the best place for a colony. After locating a site on a high bluff near the Savannah River, he returned to South Carolina and gathered the immigrants. <style=”margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0″> On the afternoon of February 12th, 1733, they arrived and would soon build the city of Savannah, Georgia.

On and off, James Oglethorpe would remain in Georgia from 1733 to 1743. In 1736, he was given the rank of colonel and a British regiment to defend the colony from Spain. Oglethorpe lived the last six years of his stay in Georgia on St. Simons Island, where he built Fort Frederica. Here, in 1742, his forces turned back a Spanish invasion in what came to be known as the Battle of Bloody Marsh, for which Oglethorpe was promoted to brigadier general in the British Army.

Oglethorpe returned to England in 1743 and the next year, married a woman named Elizabeth Wright in September 1744. He lived his final four decades divided between London and his wife’s inherited estate in Cranham. James Oglethorpe died at age 88 on June 30, 1785.


By Joseph Harris Chappell, 1905. Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated December 2018.

Also See:

The Founding of Savannah

Georgia Main Page

Early American People Photo Gallery

Georgia Photo Gallery


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