Georgia in the Atlantic World

Paul M. Pressly

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online January 2016 | | DOI:
Georgia in the Atlantic World

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Scholarly interest in comparative and interdisciplinary approaches to studying the past has produced a deep and rich understanding of the role of the Carolina low country within the British Atlantic economy. Considerably less attention has been paid to placing Georgia within that same context, in part because the coastal area seemed a simple extension of the Carolina low country. As the last British colony in North America to be created by settlers coming directly from England, Georgia seemed to contemporaries and historians alike to be a peripheral region, a struggling province, more acted upon than an active participant in colonial affairs. An earlier generation of scholars focused on the trusteeship period, from 1733 to 1750, when James Oglethorpe and his fellow trustees created a colony to resettle the “worthy poor” of England, forbade slavery in an effort to ensure the viability of subsistence agriculture, and promoted the cultivation of silk and other exotic crops. The narrow focus of these efforts lacked the larger context that awareness of the British Atlantic world has given. In bringing this larger context to the story of colonial Georgia, recent scholarship has rediscovered the importance of the royal period. The rapid pace at which the royal colony (1751–1775) imported a plantation economy is all the more significant due to the chaotic, hurried way that Georgia borrowed models from both the Caribbean and Carolina. At a moment when South Carolina was fully integrated into a transatlantic economy with considerable commerce in the northern colonies, Georgia’s trade with the Caribbean remained as an essential primer of its economy and culture. That relationship helped explain why the colony was slow in embracing a revolution that imposed a new identity on a province facing southward. In the early national period, the state’s proximity to two colonial societies, Spanish East Florida and the Creek world, posed many of the same questions about identity.

Article.  8432 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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