by Georgia Provincial Governor James Wright
These excerpts are from a lengthy document written by James Wright (Royal Governor of Georgia, 1760-1776 and 1779-1782) to the British Lords of Trade regarding the province of Georgia. Wright describes the geography of the province, paying particular attention to bodies of water. He also writes about the size and location of the several Indian nations that surround the province, including the Creeks, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Cherokees, and Catawbas. He writes specifically about the Creek Indians, whom he says are greatly opposed to any English settlers moving beyond the boundary lines already established. Wright says that the Crown’s prohibition against such encroachment has not been heeded, noting that some of General Oglethorpe’s settlers had moved well into Creek territory. Wright goes on to list the items that are produced in the colony and complains that too many Georgia goods are shipped from Charleston, South Carolina for want of more ports and suitable ships on the Georgia coast. Wright also lists the military forts in Georgia, Spanish Florida and French Louisiana and he compares their condition and the numbers of their arms and troops. Wright closes his response with a list of the men employed in various offices of government in Georgia.
The complete text is available from the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries through the digital library of Georgia.
“The Creek Indians are the People of the consequence to this Province and are supposed to consist of about 2150 Gun men or Hunters, they have about 38 Towns.
“The Chickesaws have always been sincere friends to the English, but do not contain in the whole above 350 Gun men, about [word(s) omitted] of which are settled near Augusta, and the rest about 250 miles beyond the upper Creeks westward from thence.
“The Chactaws are a very numerous nation supposed to contain about 4000 Gun men, mostly in the French Interest, altho some pretend to be in ours. Their Settlements lye between the Creek Country & Mobile, but very near to the latter. The Cherokees and Catawbas lye more contiguous to the Province of South Carolina, & I presume from thence your Lordships will be clearly informed with respect to them. We have had many Treaties of Peace Friendship and Commerce with these people which are still subsisting; all those since the surrender of the Trustees’ Charter to his Majesty, I conceive have been regularly transmitted to your Lordships. Mr. Atkin the late Indian Agent, it is said settled a kind of Treaty with part of the Chactaws, the beginning of the year 1760 but this was of very little signification, and a small party of Chactaws were down here in October 1760, and for what was transacted there I must beg leave to refer your Lordships to the Minutes of Council in that month.
“The quantity of Leather, purchased from the Creeks, Chickesaws, and Chactaws annually, is computed at 200,000 weight. This Trade my Lords, is under the immediate direction and regulation of the Governor established by an Act of assembly whereby no person is to Trade with any Indians without a License from the Governor under penalty of 100£ Sterling for each offence [offense], and with this Licence [License] is given a sett [set] of instructions, to observe which the party gives Bond with security in the sum of 100£ Sterling. These are the standing instructions, and others are given occasionally and the Licences [Licenses] renewed every year. And for your Lordship’s fuller information in this particular I have taken liberty to enclose you a Copy of the General instructions.
“The people of So. Carolina also Trade with these Indians, but the whole is and goes through this Province, and a difference of measures and Regulations in each province it is feared may be productive of mischiefs & bad consequences, and therefor [therefore] I would humbly submit it, whether the regulating the Trade and Granting Lincences to Trade with such as are in this Province, should not be exercised wholly by this Government. And that the Province of So. Carolina should have no power to intermeddle, but that such people as live there and are disposed to Trade with the Indians in Georgia, should apply for Licences [Licenses], and be subject to its authority; for altho [although] it may be said that the Carolina people have nothing to do with affairs out of their province, yet as they have always had that Trade till very lately, and I am informed are going to pass a Law relative to it, it has and I am very apprehensive [apprehensive] will occasion disputes and inconveniences if your Lordships are not pleased to interpose and grant an instruction to the Governor of So. Carolina on this head, or give me directions therein. If this is not done my Lords, I have great reason to apprehend there will be differences and disputes between the provinces, and that many inconveniences will ensue. The Tribes of the Cherokees and Catabaws Indians lye convenient to So. Carolina and might be under their management and direction as the Creeks& Chickesaws I should hope may be to Georgia.
“Answer to the 14th. Quere.
The French in the neighbourhood [neighborhood] of this province are principally those of Mobile & New Orleans. There is a small Fort at the Alabamas in the Creek Country before mentioned. These settlements my Lords are of the utmost importance to this province, and their effect the very worst possible, for as long as they continue possessed of these places, the Chactaw Indians will ever be in their Interest, & under their influence, and the Creeks wavering & indolent, and this province on such a precarious footing as must greatly impede its settlements and improvements. The strength of the French in Louisiana is not easily to be known, but by the best accounts I could get, they had from 2000 to 2500 effective men before the conquest of Canada by his Majesty, but what numbers may have gone cross the Country from Canada to Mobile, New Orleans, and the other settlements in Louisiana it is impossible to judge of.
“The chief Spanish Settlement My Lords is at St. Augustine which is rather only a Garrison. Little is planted, I believe nothing but provisions and not a great deal of that, nor are any Manufactures made there; the Inhabitants are chiefly supplied with provision and dry goods from New York and the northern Colonies, and I believe some from So Carolina, and a few Cattle from hence, the number I cannot mention with much precision, but by my information suppose there may be 1200 men in all, & I have lately heard that a reinforcement of 500 men is daily expected from Havana: They have likewise a settlement at Pensacola near Mobile aforementioned where a small Trade is carried on, but I don’t see that either of those settlements in time of Peace, have any other bad effect, save that of renewing and protecting run away Slaves, who as soon as they get there throw themselves into the hands & protection of the Priests, and are deem’d by them as Freemen.”