Chronicles of America 

The Founding of Georgia 1733

Below Charleston in South Carolina, below Cape Fear, below Port Royal, a great river called the Savannah poured into the sea. Below the Savannah, past the Ogeechee, sailing south between the sandy islands and the main, ships came to the mouth of the river Altamaha. Thus far was Carolina. But below Altamaha the coast and the country inland became debatable, probably Florida and Spanish, liable at any rate to be claimed as such, and certainly open to attack from Spanish St. Augustine.

Here lay a stretch of seacoast and country within hailing distance of semi-tropical lands. It was low and sandy, with innumerable slow-flowing watercourses, creeks, and inlets from the sea. The back country, running up to hills and even mountains stuffed with ores, was not known -- though indeed Spanish adventurers had wandered there and mined for gold. But the lowlands were warm and dense with trees and wild life. The Huguenot Ribault, making report of this region years and years before, called it "a fayre coast stretching of a great length, covered with an infinite number of high and fayre trees," and he described the land as the "fairest, fruitfullest, and pleasantest of all the world, abounding in hony, venison, wilde fowle, forests, woods of all sorts, Palm-trees, Cypresse and Cedars, Bayes ye highest and greatest; with also the fayrest vines in all the world . . . . And the sight of the faire medows is a pleasure not able to be expressed with tongue; full of Hernes, Curlues, Bitters, Mallards, Egrepths, Woodcocks, and all other kind of small birds; with Harts, Hindes, Buckes, wilde Swine, and all other kindes of wilde beastes, as we perceived well, both by their footing there and . . . their crie and roaring in the night." (Winsor's Narrative and Critical History of America, vol. V, p. 357.) This is the country of the liveoak and the magnolia, the gray, swinging moss and the yellow jessamine, the chameleon and the mockingbird.

The Savannah and Altamaha rivers and the wide and deep lands between fell in that grant of Charles II's to the eight Lords Proprietors of Carolina -- Albemarle, Clarendon, and the rest. But this region remained as yet unpeopled save by copperhued folk. True, after the "American Treaty" of 1670 between England and Spain, the English built a small fort upon Cumberland Island, south of the Altamaha, and presently another Fort George -- to the northwest of the first, at the confluence of the rivers Oconee and Oemulgee. There were, however, no true colonists between the Savannah and the Altamaha.

In the year 1717 -- the year after Spotswood's Expedition -- the Carolina Proprietaries granted to one Sir Robert Mountgomery all the land between the rivers Savannah and Altamaha, "with proper jurisdictions, privileges, prerogatives, and franchises." The arrangement was feudal enough. The new province was to be called the Margravate of Azilia. Mountgomery, as Margrave, was to render to the Lords of Carolina an annual quitrent and one-fourth part of all gold and silver found in Azilia. He must govern in accordance with the laws of England, must uphold the established religion of England, and provide by taxation for the maintenance of the clergy. In three years' time the new Margrave must colonize his Margravate, and if he failed to do so, all his rights would disappear and Azilia would again dissolve into Carolina.

This was what happened. For whatever reason, Mountgomery could not obtain his colonists. Azilia remained a paper land. The years went by. The country, unsettled yet, lapsed into the Carolina from which so tentatively it had been parted. Over its spaces the Indian still roved, the tall forests still lifted their green crowns, and no axe was heard nor any English voice.

In the decade that followed, the Lords Proprietors of Carolina ceased to be Lords Proprietors. Their government had been, save at exceptional moments, confused, oppressive, now absent-minded, and now mistaken and arbitrary. They had meant very well, but their knowledge was not exact, and now virtual revolution in South Carolina assisted their demise. After lengthy negotiations, at last, in 1729, all except Lord Granville surrendered to the Crown, for a considerable sum, their rights and interests. Carolina, South and North, thereupon became royal colonies.

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