Georgia History 1797

GEORGIA, one of the United States of N. America, is situated between 30.37 and 35. N. lat. and between 80.8 and 91.8 W. long. being about 600 miles in length, and on an average 250 in breadth. It is bounded E. by the Atlantic Ocean; S. by E. and W. Florlda; W. by the river Mississippi; N. E. and N. by S. Carolina and the Tennessee State. It was formerly divided into parishes, afterwards into 3 districts, but lately into two districts, viz. Upper and Lower, which are subdivided into 24 counties as follow: In the Lower district are Camden, Glynn, Liberty, Chatham, Bryan, McIntosh, Effingham, Scriven, and Burke. The counties in the Upper DistriCt are Montgomery, Washington, Hancock, Greene, Franklin, Oglethorpe, Elbert, Wilkes, Lincoln, Warren, Jefferson, Jackson, Bullock, Columbia and Richmond. The principal towns are Augusta, formerly the seat of government, Savannah, the former capital of the state, Sunbury, Brunswick, Frederica, Washington, and Louisville, which is the metropolis of the state; and here are deposited the records of the state, such of them as a late legislature did not order to be publicly burnt.

The principal rivers which water Georgia are, Savannah, which separates it from S. Carolina; Ogeechee river, which runs parallel with the former, and Alatamaha, which runs parallel with the others. Besides these and their numerous branches, there is Turtle river, Little Sitilla, Great Sitilla, Crooked R. and St. Mary's, which forms a part of the southern boundary of the United States. The rivers in the middle and western parts will be noticed under the head of Georgia Western Territory. All these are stocked with a great variety of fish, as rock, mullet, whiting, shad, trout, drum, bass, catfish, white, brim and sturgeon; and the bays and lagoons are supplied with oysters, and other shellfish, crabs. shrimps, &c. The clams, in particular, are large, their meat white, tender, and delieate. The shark and great black stingray are insatiable cannibals, and very troublesome to the fishermen. The chief lake or marsh is Ekanfanoka, by some called Ouaquaphenogaw, which is 300 miles in circumference.

The eastern part of the state, between the mountains and the ocean, and the rivers Savannah and St. Mary's, a tract of country more than 120 miles from N. to S. and from 50 to 80 E. and W. is level, without a hill or stone. At the distance of about 40 or 50 miles from the sea board, or saIt marsh, the lands begin to be more or less uneven, until they gradually risfe to mountains. The vast chain of the Alleghany or Appalachian mountains, which commence with the Kaats Kill, near Hudson R. in the state of New-York, terminate in Georgia, 60 miles S. of its southern boundary. From the foot of this mountain spreads a wide extended plain, of the richest soil, and in a latitude and climate well adapted to the cultivation of most of the productions of the south of Europe, and of the East Indies. In the low country, near the rice swamps, bilious complaints and fevers of various kinds are pretty universal, during the months of July, August, and September; but the fertility of the soil, and the ease with which it is improved, are a sufficient inducement to settlers, and an unfailing source of wealth. Before the sickly season approaches, the rich planters, with their families, remove to the sea-islands, or some elevated, healthy situatlon, for the benefit of the fresh air. In the winter and spring, pleurises, peripneumonies, and other inflammatory disorders, occasioned by "violent and sudden colds are considerably common, and frequently fatal. Consumptions, epi!epsies, cancers, palsies, and apoplexies, are not so common among the inhabitants of the southern as northern climates.

The winters in Georgia are very mild and pleasant. Snow is seldom or never seen; nor is vegetation often prevented by severe frosts. Cattle subsist tolerably well during the winter, feeding in the woods and savannas, and are fatter in that season than in any other. In the hilly country, which begins about 50, and in some places 100 miles, from the sea, the air is pure and salubrious, and the water plenty and good. From June to September the mercury in Fahrenheit's thermometer commonly fluctuates from 76. to 90. In winter from 40. to 60. The most prevailing winds are S. W. and E.; in winter N. W. The E. wind is warmest in winter and coolest in summer. The S. wind in summer and fall particularly, is damp, sultry, unelastic, and of course unhealthy. In the S. E. parts of this state, which lie within a few degrees of the torrid zone, the atmosphere is kept in motion by impressions from the trade winds. This purifies the air so that it is found to have salutary effects on consumptive habits.

In the low lands are the rice fields. In the interior and hilly parts, wheat, Indian corn, and the other productions more common to the northern states. Rice is at present the staple commodity of the state; tobacco, wheat and indigo are the other great articles of produce. Besides these the state yields cotton, silk, corn, potatoes, oranges, figs, olives, pomegranates, &c. The forests consist of oak, hickory, mulberry, pine, cedar, &c. The whole coast is bordered with islands; the principal of which are Skidaway, Wassaw, Ossabaw, St. Catherines, Sapelo, Frederica, ]ekyl, Cumberland, &c. These islands are surrounded hy navigable creeks, between which and the main land is a large extent of salt marsh, fronting the whole state, not less, on an average, than 4 or 5 miles in breadth, intersected with creeks in various directions, admitting, through the whole, an inland navigation, between the islands and the main land, from the N. E. to the S. E. corners of the state. The E. sides of these islands are, for the' most part, clean, hard, sandy beaches, exposed to the wash of the ocean. Between these islands are the entrances of the rivers from the interior country, winding through the low saIt marshes, and delivering their waters into the sounds, which form capacious harbors of from 3 to 8 miles over, and which communicate with each other by parallel salt creeks.

The soil and its fertility are various, according to situation and different improvemcnt. The islands in their natural state are covered with a plentiful growth of pine, oak, hickory, live oak [an uncommonly hard and very valuable wood] and some red cedar. The soil is a mixture of sand and black mould, making what is commonly called a grey soil. A considerable part of it, particularly that whereon grow the oak, hickory and live oak is very rich, and yields on cultivation, good crops of indigo, cotton, corn, & potatoes. The soil of the main land, adjoining the marshes and creeks is nearly of the same quality with that of the islands:' except that which borders on those rivers and creeks, which stretch far back into the country. On these, immediately after you leave the saIts, begin the valuable rice swamps; which, on cultivation, afford the present chief staple of commerce.

The soil between the rivers, after you leave the sea board, and the edge of the swamps, at the distancee of 20 or 30 miles, changes from a grey to a redi color, on which grows plenty of oak and hickory, with a considerable intermixture of pine. In some places it is gravelly, but fertile, and so continues for a number of miles gradually deepening the reddish color of the earth, till it changes into what is called the Mulatto soil, consisting of a black and red earth. The Mulatto lands are generally strong, and yield large crops of wheat, tobacco, corn, &c. To this kind of land succeeds by turns a soil nearly black and very rich, on which grow large quantities of black walnut, mulberry, &c. This succession of diffferent soils continues uniform and regular, though there are some large veins of all the different soils intermixed; and what is more remarkable, this succession, in the order mentioned, stretches across this state nearly parallel with the sea coast, and extends through the several states, nearly in the same direction, to the banks of Hudson river.

Cotton was formerly planted here, only by the poorer class of people, and that only for family use. They planted two kinds, the annual and the West-Indian; the former is low, and planted every year; the balls are large, and the phlox long, strong, and perfectly white. The latter is a tall perennial plant, the stalk somewhat shrubby, several of which rise up from the root for several years successively, the stems of the former year being killed by the winter frosts. The balls of the West-India cotton are not quite so large as the others, but the phlox or wool is long, extremely fine, silky and white. A plantation of this kind will last several years, with moderate labor and care. The culture of cotton is now much more attended to; several indigo planters have converted their plantations into cotton fields. A new species is about to be introduced into this state, the seed of which was lately brought by Capt. ]osiah Roberts from Waitahoo, one of the Marquess islands in the S. Pacific ocean, and sent to a gentleman in Georgia by a member of the Historical Society in Boston. This cotton is of a very fine texture, and it is expected will prove a considerable acquisition to the southern states. The cotton at present raised in Georgia, is distinguished by some into two kinds, the green and black seed; the former is planted in the Upper Country; the latter on the sea islands and adjacent lands, and was brought, about the year 1788, from the Bahamas. And there is now a prospect, that in a few years the States of S. Carolina and Georgia may be able to raise more than ten millions of pounds of cotton annually for exportation. 'Most of the tropical fruits would flourish in this State, with proper attention. The south-western part of this State, and the parts of East and West Florida, which lie adjoining, will, probably, in some future time, become the vineyard of America. The chief articles of export are rice, tobacco, indigo, sago, lumber, naval stores, leather, deer-skins, snake-root, myrtle and bees wax, corn, and live stock. The planters and farmers raise large stocks of cattle, from 1,000 to 1,500 head, and some more. The value in sterling money, of the exports of Georgia, in the year 1755, was 15,744l.--in 1772, 121,677l.--in 1791, value in dollars 491,472--in 1792, 458,973--in 1793, 501.383--in 1794, 676,154, and in 1796, 950,158. In 1790, the tonnage employed in this State was 28,540, and the number of American seamen 11,225. In return for her exports Georgia, receivcs W. India goods, teas, wines, cloathing, and dry goods of all kinds. From tbe northern States, cheese, fish, potatoes, apples, cider, and shoes. The imports and exports are principally to and from Savannah, which has a fine harbour, and is the place where the principal commercial business of the State is transacted. According to the census of 1790, the number of inhabitants amounted to 82,548, of whom 29,264 were slaves. The increase by immigration and otherwise, has been very considerable since. The different religious sects are Presbyterians, Episcopalions, Baptists, and Methodists. They have but few regular ministers among them. The citizens of Georgia have lately revised and altered their constitution, and formed it upon a plan fimilar to the federal Constitution of the United States. The literature of this State, which is yet in its infancy, is commencing on a pIan which, if ever carried into effect, will be very advantageous to the State. A college with ample and liberal endowments, is instituted in Louisville, a high and healthy part of the country, near the centre of the State. There is also provision made for the institution of an academy in each county of the State, to be supported from the same funds, and considered as parts and members of the same institution, under the general Superintendance and direction of a president and board of trustees, selected for their literary accomplishments from the different parts of the State, and invested with the customary powers of corporations. This institution is denominated The University of Georgia. The funds for the support of literary institutions are principally in lands, amounting in the whole to 50,000 acres, a great part of which is of the best quality, and at present very valuable; together with nearly 6000l. sterling in bonds, houses, and town lots in Augusta. 0ther public property to the amount of 1000l. in each county, has been set apart for the purposes of building and furnishing their respective academies. The funds originally designed to support the literary orphan-house, founded by the Rev. George Whitefield, are chiefly in rice plantations and negroes. On the death of the Countess of Huntingdon, to whom Mr. Whitefield bequeathed this property, as trustee, the legislature, in the year 1792, passed a law vesting it in 13 commissioners, with powers to carry the original intention of Mr. Whitefield into execution; and in compliment to the Countess, the seminary is styled Huntingdon College.

This State was first settled in the year 1732, and was the only colony settled at the expense of the crown.

Transcribed from The American Gazetteer, Jedidiah Morse, 1797

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