Sam Burnham, Curator
Over on our Instagram and Facebook pages, I posted a story with a James Oglethorpe Quote. Oglethorpe was, of course, the founder of the colony of Georgia having secured a charter from the king, sailing with a group of settler to present day Savannah, establishing friendly ties with the native Yamacraw, and fighting the Spanish for the security of the colony.
Since the stories on social media only consist of a picture, a quote, and a hashtag, I thought I should expand on the quote just a bit.
"If we allow slaves, we act against the very principles by which we associated together, which was to relieve the distressed." - James Oglethorpe
Oglethorpe had a plan for Georgia before he ever sought out the charter. He wanted a land based on hope and Christian charity. The idea that Georgia was a prison colony is erroneous. The original settlers were not criminals by our modern interpretation. The original settlers were indebted in Britain and came to Georgia for a chance at a new life. This meant the first Georgians were seeking an escape from bondage. Therefore it was essential to Oglethorpe that the new colony did not use an even more brutal form of bondage in order to free people from their debts.
The new colony was to be based in the idea of personal enterprise. No large plantations would be allowed. Businesses would be small family operations. Lawyers were also prohibited. Georgia stood in juxtaposition to its neighbor, South Carolina, which was a haven of big plantations and big money. That difference would eventually be the downfall of Georgia's original plan as greed and competition overrode the founding principles and led to slavery in the colony.
When we talk about the small things - small towns, small businesses, small family farms, we aren't just enjoying an abstract daydream. We are discussing the very principles that our state was founded on. While Columbia, Atlanta, Birmingham, Jackson, and New Orleans may run the Deep South, it is still dependent on places like Due West, Talking Rock, Smut Eye, Iuka, and Lafitte. Our celebration of the small things is an attempt to draw attention back to the basic, the intended, the original.
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Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire