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The Life of James Oglethorpe Essay

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James Oglethorpe was born on 22nd December in the year sixteen ninety-six in London (Larned, 372; Nash, Gary, Jeffrey, Howe, 78). Born to the representative of Westbrook Place, Sir Theophilus Oglethorpe, and Eleanor Oglethorpe, he became a British general as well as a philanthropist (Rodney, 88). He is credited with the founding of the colony of Georgia, which was motivated by his desire to resettle the poor lot in England, especially the prisoners convicted of debts, into America.

Oglethorpe accomplishments and failures

In nineteen fourteen, James enrolled in Corpus Christi College before dropping out and joining a military academy. Subsequently, he joined the Savoy Carignan army, where he was promoted to become the aide-de-camp to Prince Francois Eugene – the prince of Savoy after John Churchill’s (first Duke of Marlborough) recommendation. His work was remarkable, as it is evidenced in the years between seventeen sixteen and seventeen hundred and seventeen, where the prince’s army captured and siege Belgrade. He also victoriously campaigned against Turkey (Rodney, p. 88).

He returned to England to a win in the Member of Parliament seat where he represented Haslemere from seventeen twenty-two. Through his position, he championed the enhancement of the situations of the imprisoned debtors (Larned, p. 371). This was triggered after the death of his friend, Robert Castell, in the inhabitable London prisons where Castell had landed due to his inability to pay debts. As the head of the parliamentary committee mandated to investigate England’s jail, Oglethorpe proposed the creation of a colony in the New World between Florida and Carolina that would offer refuge to the England citizens who were poor as well as those with accumulated debts. This vision came after he realized that prisons reforms only did not address the main problem of the poor lot in England (Nash, Gary, Jeffrey, Howe, p. 79). Accordingly, he formulated the strategies for the colonization of modern-day Georgia, recommending that debtors in the abominable London prisons be released.

James Oglethorpe used a ship known as Ann to sail to Charleston in South Carolina. He arrived in the year seventeen thirty-two and settled in the present-day Georgia at a site known today as Savannah. He made a deal with the Creek community for a land where he built a number of forts for defense purposes. Afterward he went back to England and campaigned for the ban of slavery in Georgia. On 9th June in the year seventeen thirty two, England granted Oglethorpe together with his trustees a Royal charter between the Altamaha and Savannah rivers.

Georgia, located between two colonies, was highly contested and the economic and military considerations overrode the initial motivation of creating Georgia (Rodney, p. 89). After Oglethorpe proposition that England debtor be sent to Georgia, a few people went. The resettling of the poor in Georgia took the shape of eliminating the unwanted elements out of England. Moreover, the colony was meant to offer Oglethorpe a base while attacking Florida. However, many poor English artisans, tradesmen, and religious expatriate from Germany and Switzerland ended up settling in Georgia.

In seventeen thirty three, Oglethorpe – through the assistance of African slaves and some militia – cleared the pine forest and established the town of a town Savannah. Moreover, on the twenty 1st February in the year seventeen hundred and thirty four, James Oglethorpe created a pioneer Masonic Lodge in Georgia; today it is known as the Solomon’s Lodge No.1, F.& A.M. Presently, the lodge is “the Oldest Continuously Operating English Constituted Lodge of Freemasons in the Western Hemisphere” (Larned, 373; ourgeorgiahistory.com/people/oglethorpe.html). A point to note, the famous Charles Wesley – the pioneer of Methodism, was James secretary in seventeen hundred and thirty six.

Oglethorpe is further credited with a series of successful attacks on the Spanish forts in 1739 during the War of Jenkins’ Ear that featured Georgia under the English and Florida under the Spanish. The war was part of the main War of Australian Succession confrontation. Prior to the war, he had been made a general by King George through his own efforts although at the time he was regarded as a civilian (Spalding, 21).

Oglethorpe failures

The colony of Georgia was used as a military buffer aimed at safeguarding the English territories (Inscoe, 16). The rising Spanish army presence in Saint Augustine thwarted James vision of converting Georgia into an Agrarian land. He prohibited slavery to avoid it weakening the colony as the Spanish grew their interest in the land (Spalding, p. 22; Larned, p. 373). Consequently, the decision to exclude slave activities resulted in an unanticipated shortage in the labor force and the subsequent laxity in economic growth. This brought a lot of opposition to Oglethorpe by the settlers who viewed him as a permanent dictator. Most of the new settlers thus preferred South Carolina rather than Georgia since the place was more advantageous with fewer limitations. For lack of sufficient support from the trustees as well as the parliament, Oglethorpe mortgaged most of his land assets in England to fund the colony. Ultimately, in seventeen fifty, Oglethorpe was defeated in accepting slavery in Georgia; previously, he had lost a number of military and political battles.

Oglethorpe through his Indian ally Ahaya, who led the Seminole tribe’s Alachua band, failed to siege the Saint Augustine County during the War of Australian Succession.

James Oglethorpe, after his promotion to the level of major-general in seventeen forty five, was involved in a court case. This is due to his behavior in relation to the Jacobite Rising, a series of rebellions, uprisings, and wars in the British Islands. Also, James served a five month imprisonment after killing a man.


In the first months, Oglethorpe had worked diligently for the colony of Georgia colony while at times contravening the Trustee policy. He allowed Jews as well as other religious victims of persecution to settle in the colony of Georgia. Moreover, he relentlessly opposed slavery within Georgia. Oglethorpe also respected the Indians needs, customs, and language as well as protected them from devious white traders.

James Edward Oglethorpe died on 30th June, the year seventeen eighty five after a short illness. He was then buried under the Parish Church of all Saints. At least, Edward ultimately lived to witness the British colony that he had established become one of the states in North America (Rodney, 90; Inscoe, 17). Nonetheless, historical documentation does not reveal much on how Oglethorpe took of the American Revolution. However, his encounter on 4th June, 1785 with the American Ambassador, John Adams, shows that he had “great esteem and regard for America” (Spalding, p. 22).


Georgia encyclopedia. . Web.

Inscoe, C. John. James Edward Oglethorpe: New Perspectives on His Life and Legacy. 1997. Georgia Historical Society, Savannah

Larned, J. N. Larned’s History of the World.1897, Merrill & Baker, New York. Volume 3, Pp. 372.

Nash, B. Gary and Jeffrey J. Roy and Howe, R. John. The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society, 2006. Vol. I. Addison-Wesley.

. Web.

Rodney, Baine M. The Publications of James Edward Oglethorpe, 1994. University of Georgia Press, Athens.

Spalding, Phinizy. Oglethorpe in America. 1977. University of Chicago Press, Chicago).

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