Year
1776

General Lee recognizes Georgia’s value

On this day in 1776, American General Charles Lee informs Congress that Georgia was more valuable than he had originally suspected. Lee argued that the state’s salubrious climate, crops of rice, numerous harbors and rivers, livestock and proximity to the West Indies made it mandatory to keep out of enemy hands. To safeguard Georgia, Lee recommended that the Continental Army assign to it additional reinforcements.

Georgia’s founders had hoped to establish a colony of worthy, poor white men able to defend the wealthy slaveholders of South Carolina from the Spanish in Florida. Their vision of an economically viable southern colony without slaves failed. The trustees legalized slavery and alcohol in a last-ditch effort to save their colony between 1750 and 1752, when Parliament took control of Georgia from its corporate charter-holders. James Wright, who practiced law and held a large plantation in South Carolina, was serving as that colony’s agent in London when he was appointed lieutenant governor in 1760. Upon moving to Georgia, he sold much of his South Carolina property and invested in Georgia. Wright became Georgia’s third royal governor in April 1761.

Wright was the only colonial governor and Georgia the only colony to successfully implement the Stamp Act in 1765. As revolutionary fervor grew elsewhere in the colonies, Georgia remained the most loyal colony, declining to send delegates to the Continental Congress in 1774.

Although briefly removed from power, Wright organized a military action and retook Savannah on December 29, 1778. He then resumed office as royal governor on July 22, 1779. With the British maintaining nominal control of Georgia, the Patriots’ Southern Campaign focused on the Carolinas. Wright remained in office until July 11, 1782, when the British abandoned Georgia for good after British General Charles Cornwallis’ final defeat at Yorktown. Wright then moved to London, where he died three years later.

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