Abbildungen der Seite


come so numerous, and a regiment being stationed in the province for its defence ; the former tenure had become less necessary : cordingly on the 15th of March 1739, at their annual meeting, the trustees passed a resolution, that in default of male issue, any legal possessor of land, might by a deed in writing, or by his last will and testament, appoint his daughter as his successor, or any other male or female relation; with a proviso, that the successor should in the proper court in Georgia, personally claim the lot granted or devised, within eighteen months after the decease of the grantor or devisor. This privilege was soon after extended to every legal possessor, who was empowered to appoint any other person to be his successor. Whilst the trustees were employed in altering their former regulations for the satisfaction of the colonists, the petitions were received, for and against the introduction of negroes. It is worthy of remark, that the industrious Germans and Highlanders, who were busily employed in the cultivation of their farms, were opposed to the principles of slavery, These were forcible arguments in favor of an adherence to their former plans and regulations, and no doubt formed the basis on which the rejection of the petition from Savannah was founded.

While the general was preparing his colony for defence against the invasion of an enemy, and harassed and perplexed with the complaints of his settlers, treason had found its way into the

centre of his camp, and a deep laid plot had been planned to assassinate him. Two companies of his regiment had been drawn from Gibralter, some of whom could speak the Spanish language: detachments from these companies had been stationed on Cumberland Island, and the Spanish out-posts on the other side, could approach so near as to converse with them : one man of these companies had been in the Spanish service, and not only understood their language, but had so much of the old Roman Catholic spirit, as to feel an aversion to the Protestant religion. The Spaniards had found through this villain the means of corrupting the minds of several of the British soldiers, and they united in forming a design to murder general Oglethorpe, and then make their escape to Augustine.

Accordingly the day was fixed, and the soldiers who were concerned in the plot, came up to the general, and made some extraordinary demands, as a pretext for the execution of their diabolical purposes; which as they expected, being refused, a signal being given which was well understood, one of them discharghis piece at the general, and being only at the distance of a few paces, the ball passed over his shoulder, and the powder burned his face and singed his cloathes : another presented his piece and attempted to fire, but the powder only flashed in the pan; a third drew his hanger and endeavor, ed to stab him : the general by this time, having drawn his sword, parried the thrust, and an offiz

cer came up, run the ruffian through the body and killed him upon the spot. The mutineers discouraged by the failure of their first effort, at. tempted to escape by flight, but were caught and laid in irons. A court martial was ordered to try the ring-leaders of this desperate conspiracy, some of whom were found guilty and sentenced to be shot. Thus miraculously the general escaped, and the principal conspirators fell victims to that fate, which their conduct had so justly merited.

Another and more dreadful effort of Spanish policy, was attempted to be practiced about the same time in South-Carolina, and would, if it had succeeded, have been attended with the most fatal, bloody and dreadful consequences. Emissaries had been sent from Augustine to Carolina, with a design to stir up an insurrection amongst


negroes, whose number had by that time amounted to forty thousand, while the white population was estimated at about one eighth of that number. This race of people whose constitutions were adapted to the climate, and who could not be supposed to be contented in slavery, would grasp with avidity at the most desperate attempts which promised freedom.. Long had liberty and protection been promised and proclaimed to them, by the Spaniards at Augustine, nor were the negroes strangers to the proclamation. At different times the emissaries of Spain had been detected in tampering with them, and


[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

the present moment seemed to be favorable for the adoption of the means of depopulating Carolina, and consequently Georgia, by a general mas

The governor of Florida had formed a regiment of these refugees, and appointed officers from amongst themselves, allowing them the same pay, clothing, subsistence and other privileges, with the regular Spanish soldiers. The slaves of Carolina were aware of these inducements, and when they ran away from their masters, directed their course to Augustine. At length negro serjeants were employed on the recruiting service, and had a secret rendezvous in Carolina. Two Spaniards were seized in Georgia and committed to prison, for enticing slaves from Carolina to join this regiment : five negroes belonging to captain M.Pherson, who had been employed in herding cattle ; after wounding his son, and killing another man, made their

escape to Florida and were protected : at length a number of negroes collected at Stono, hoisted their standard, proclaimed open rebellion, marched through the country with drums beating and colours flying ; plundered and burned several houses, and murdered men, women and children; and but for the circumstance of the white men's carrying their guns with them to church, from a dread of the Indians, a most bloody scene must have ensued. The whole country was in a state of terror and consternation, expecting to be sacrificed to the power and indiscriminate fury of

[ocr errors][merged small]

their slaves : fortunately the armed men from the church made a judicious attack upon their head quarters and they were dispersed. When the governor of South Carolina advised general Oglethorpe of the insurrection, he doubled his vigilance in Georgia, and seized all straggling spaniards and negroes, who were found passing through the province.

In the mean time matters were hastening to a rupture in Europe, and a war between Great. Britain and Spain appeared to be unavoidable. The plenipotentiaries appointed for settling the boundaries between Georgia and Florida, and other differences subsisting between the two crowns, had met at Pardo in convention, where preliminaries were drawn up ; but the conference ended unsatisfactorily to both parties. The proposal of a negociation and the appointment of plenipotentiaries, gave universal offence to the people of England, who breathed nothing but war and vengeance against the proud and arro. gant Spaniards : hostile preparations were made; all the officers of the navy and army were order

. ed to their stations, and with the unanimous voice of the nation, war was declared against Spain on the 23d of October, 1739.

The settlers of Georgia had not increased with that rapidity which had been anticipated by the trustees, nor was its condition by any means flourishing, considering the immense sums of money which they had expended. The number

« ZurückWeiter »