Georgia: A Southern Colony
Georgia, the 13th and last colony, was founded by a group of Englishmen whose business plan was based on a grand and noble idea. They wanted to help poor people in England stay out of debtors' prison. In England, at this time, people who couldn't pay their bills went to jail. James Oglethorpe inspired wealthy Englishmen to give money to help establish a colony where the poor could build better lives instead of going to jail.
King George II and his government liked this plan because the Georgia colony would help keep the Spanish from moving north out of Florida. Georgia would stand between Spanish Florida and the rest of the British colonies to the north.
However, the Englishmen's plan depended on getting the cooperation of settlers. Unfortunately, there weren't many poor debtors who wanted to start new lives in the wilderness of North America. Some thought prison would be a safer place.
Instead of an army of debtors, the colonists who went with Oglethorpe to Georgia in 1732 were adventurers much like the settlers in the other colonies. In addition, many Protestants, Catholics, and Jews came to Georgia in search of religious freedom.
As many had feared, life was difficult in Georgia. The Spaniards in Florida wanted to control Georgia, and they continually attacked the new settlements. The Georgians fought them off without any help from the other British colonies. To make matters worse, Oglethorpe had specific ideas about how the colonists should live.Oglethorpe envisioned that his new colony would be a perfect society, and he established laws against drinking alcohol and owning slaves to fulfill this vision. He also believed that the settlers should live on small farms and learn to farm their land themselves.
Unhappy about Oglethorpe's rules, the settlers weren't about to go along with his strict views on society. They wanted to farm large plantations and own slaves like the wealthy planters in neighboring colonies. They disliked Oglethorpe's other rules as well.
After 12 years of governing the colony, Oglethorpe returned to England. In 1752, the people of Georgia elected an assembly.