Georgia enters the American Revolution



Georgia, tardy in joining the Continental movement, felt the flame of patriotism warming the hearts and minds of her sons early in 1775. In February, the inhabitants of the parish of St. Johns, in that province, chose Lyman Hall to represent them in the second Congress, and he took his seat as such at the middle of May. In July the Provincial Convention that had been formed adopted the American Association, and chose delegates to represent the whole province in the Congress; and then the bright galaxy of the "Old Thirteen" was perfected. The royal governor, Sir James Wright, had tried in vain to suppress the rising tide of republicanism in Georgia. So early as May, 1775, when it was suspected that he was about to imitate General Gage, by seizing the ammunition of the province, several members of the Council of Safety and others broke open the magazine, sent a greater portion of the powder to Beaufort, South Carolina, and hid the remainder in their own garrets. When the governor and the Tories were preparing to celebrate the king's birthday, on the 4th of June, by firing the cannon on the battery in Savannah, some of the leading Whigs spiked the guns there, and hurled them to the bottom of the bluff. Not long afterward, a letter written by the governor to General Gage, asking him to send troops to Georgia to suppress the rising rebellion there, was intercepted at Charleston. The republicans were greatly exasperated; and a day or two afterward they seized a British ship at the mouth of the Savannah River, with thirteen thousand pounds of gunpowder on board. The spirit of resistance waxed stronger and stronger, until, in January, 1776, the Whigs resolved to endure the adverse influence of the governor and the Tories no longer. Joseph Habersham, a member of the popular legislature, with some armed volunteers, seized Governor Wright and made him a prisoner on parole at his own house. A sentinel was placed before it, with orders not to allow any intercourse between the governor and the Loyalists. During a stormy night in February, Sir James escaped through a back window of his house, walked five miles down the borders of the river with a friend, and then entering an open boat, fled in the pelting rain, under the cover of darkness, for shelter to the British vessel-of-war Scarborough, lying in Tybee Sound. Stuart, the Indian agent for the Southern Department, had fled for safety to St. Augustine. He had incurred the bitter resentment of the patriots by trying to execute an atrocious order from Gage, as commander-in-chief of the forces, in these words:

"The people of Carolina in turning rebels to their king have lost all faith; improve a correspondence with Indians to the greatest advantage, and even when opportunity offers make them take arms against his majesty's enemies, and distress them all in their power; for no time is now to be kept with them; they have brought down all the savages they could against us here, who, with their riflemen, are continually firing upon our advanced sentries; in short, no time should be lost to distress a set of people so wantonly rebellious; supply the Indians with what they want, be the expense what it will, as every exertion must now be made on the side of government." Gage had borne the same false testimony concerning the employment of the savages by the Americans, to the British ministry, as an excuse for his barbarous recommendations to make allies of them with the British army. At the same time the British emissaries were among the savage tribes of the north trying to form alliances with them, and to incite them to war against the Patriots.

So was ended royal rule in Georgia.





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