Land of the Brave

James Oglethorpe

Colonial America - Land of the Brave

Short Biography about James Oglethorpe

This article contains a short biography and fast facts and information about the early American colonist, James Oglethorpe (1696-1785). Who was James Edward Oglethorpe and why was he famous? James Oglethorpe was famous as a leader of the Georgia Colony.

James Oglethorpe was a British general, member of Parliament, philanthropist, humanitarian, was the founder of the colony of Georgia in America in 1733. He was a social reformer in England founding Georgia, after a grant from King George II, to resettle Britain's poor, especially those in debtors' prison.

He established a small group on the Savanna River hoping to create a debtors colony that was free of vice. The establishment of the Georgia colony was based on three motives: philanthropic, commercial, and military.

Fact 1: James Oglethorpe was famous as the leader and founder of the Georgia Colony

Fact 2: When was James Oglethorpe born? He was born on December 22, 1696

Fact 3: Where was James Oglethorpe born? He was born at Westbrook Place in Godalming, Surrey, England

Fact 4: James Oglethorpe was the third and surviving son of Sir Theophilus and Lady Eleanor Wall Oglethorpe.

Fact 5: His family were wealthy members of the landed gentry and Royalists, supporters of the crown and kings

Fact 6: James Oglethorpe received an excellent education first at Eton and then at Oxford University

Fact 7: He chose to follow a career in the military and served in the British army where he gained an excellent reputation as a highly competent soldier and commander

Fact 8: Following the death of his father James inherited the family estates and left the army to attend to his business interests

Fact 9: He was elected to the British Parliament in 1722 and served as a Tory member. His entry into politics led James Oglethorpe to take an interest in Humanitarian pursuits which were sparked by the experiences of a friend who was incarcerated in a Debtors prison. This started a life-long interest in the cause of Penal Reform.

Fact 10: His humanitarian interests also encompassed an antipathy to black slavery, the practice of impressments and campaigns against drinking.

Fact 11: His beliefs led to the idea of creating a place in the New World where debtors could be rehabilitated and start a new life

Fact 12: King George II was sympathetic to his ideals but also wanted to expand the colonies and the opportunity for trade and to provide additional military support to counteract the threat of Spanish encroachment on British lands in America.

Fact 13: James Oglethorpe and 19 friends and associates were granted a royal charter in 1732 to found a colony between Spanish Florida and South Carolina. The colony was to be governed by trustees for 21 years, after which time the colony would revert to royal control.

Fact 14: The new colony was called Georgia and named in honor of King George II.

Fact 15: Catholics were banned from the new colony.

Fact 16: Oglethorpe and the first colonists left for America on the ship Ann in late 1732, and settled near the present site of Savannah, Georgia on 12 February 1733.

Fact 17: The government of the new colony of Georgia proved to be extremely difficult due the three differing objectives:
The philanthropic objectives were based on ideals of a better life for debtors but expansion of the colony with additional settlers suffered due to restraints on the size of land allowed and a restriction on inheritance
Few debtors ended up in Georgia
Georgia's new settlers consisted of poor English tradesmen and artisans and religious refugees from Switzerland, France and Germany, as well as a number of Jewish refugees.
The military objectives were given the greatest attention due to the threat of war with Spain
The commercial objectives were not met because of the problems associated with the other objectives

Fact 18: The war of Jenkin's Ear erupted between England and Spain in 1739 and the English colonies in Carolina and Georgia laid siege to the Spanish in St. Augustine, Florida. James Oglethorpe made two unsuccessful attempts to conquer St. Augustine in 1740 and 1743.

Fact 19: James Oglethorpe returned to London in 1743 and rose steadily through the ranks of the British Army

Fact 20: In 1743 he married wealthy Lady Elizabeth Wright

Fact 21: James Oglethorpe led a command in the Jacobite Rising of 1745, but did not distinguish himself either in battle or as a commander.

Fact 22: In 1785, Oglethorpe, sympathetic to the America cause, visited John Adams in London during his capacity as the first US ambassador to Britain.

Fact 23: James Oglethorpe died on June 30, 1785 (aged 88) in Cranham, Essex, England

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