James Oglethorpe was a wealthy British aristocrat, military officer, and member of Parliament who hoped to establish a colony in the New World for English debtors who were crowded into squalid prisons. In the end, few debtors ended in Georgia, but rather, European-born immigrants well-suited to the backbreaking work required to build and sustain a successful colony. Oglethorpe envision a society of farmers who would thrive in the agrarian environment and protect the colony from both the Spanish and Native Americans. It was here, where America's booming cotton industry was born. The colony's charter extended religious freedom to all settlers other than Roman Catholics. Oglethorpe and colonists first settled near present-day Savannah in late 1732.
Slavery in Georgia
Because Oglethorpe's original plan included the division of land parcels into manageable, family-run, 50-acre lots, slavery was initially banned in the colony. As the cotton industry grew in Georgia, however, the ban on slavery was lifted, becoming an integral part of the Georgia economic engine for the next 130 years.