Thirteen Colonies > Savannah

Savannah

Background

Savannah (/səˈvænə/) is the oldest city in the U.S. state of Georgia and is the county seat of Chatham County. Established in 1733 on the Savannah River, the city of Savannah became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia.[3] A strategic port city in American Revolutionary War and during the American Civil War,[4] Savannah is today an industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport. It is Georgia's fifth-largest city and third-largest metropolitan area. On February 12, 1733,[6] General James Oglethorpe and settlers from the ship Anne landed at Yamacraw Bluff and were greeted by Tomochichi, the Yamacraws, and Indian traders John and Mary Musgrove. Mary Musgrove often served as an interpreter. The city of Savannah was founded on that date, along with the colony of Georgia. In 1751, Savannah and the rest of Georgia became a Royal Colony and Savannah was made the colonial capital of Georgia.[7] By the outbreak of American Revolutionary Warary War, Savannah had become the southernmost commercial port of the Thirteen Colonies. British troops took the city in 1778, and the following year a combined force of American and French soldiers failed to rout the British at the Siege of Savannah. The British did not leave the city until July 1782.[8] Savannah, a prosperous seaport throughout the nineteenth century, was the Confederacy's sixth most populous city and the prime objective of General William T. Sherman's March to the Sea. Early on December 21, 1864, local authorities negotiated a peaceful surrender to save Savannah from destruction, and Union troops marched into the city at dawn.[9] Savannah was named for the Savannah River, which probably derives from variant names for the Shawnee, a Native American people who migrated to the river in the 1680s. The Shawnee destroyed another Native people, the Westo, and occupied their lands at the head of the Savannah River's navigation on the fall line, near present-day Augusta.[10] These Shawnee, whose Native name was Ša·wano·ki (literally, "southerners"),[11] were known by several local variants, including Shawano, Savano, Savana and Savannah.[12] Another theory is that the name Savannah refers to the extensive marshlands surrounding the river for miles inland, and is derived from the English term "savanna", a kind of tropical grassland, which was borrowed by the English from Spanish sabana and used in the Southern Colonies. (The Spanish word comes from the Taino word zabana.)[13] Still other theories suggest that the name Savannah originates from Algonquian terms meaning not only "southerners" but perhaps "salt".[14][15] Native settlers[edit] European encroachment [show] The Yamacraws, a Native American tribe, were the first known people to settle in and around Savannah. In the 18th century, under their leader Tomochichi, they met the newly arriving European settlers. Arrival of the British[edit] The Yamasee War [show] General James Edward Oglethorpe, a colonial representative of King George II to the American colonies, was sent to create a buffer south of the Savannah River to protect the Carolinas from Spanish Florida and French Louisiana. In November 1732 the ship Anne sailed from Britain carrying 114 colonists, including General James Oglethorpe. On February 12, 1733, after a brief stay at Charles Town, South Carolina, Oglethorpe and his settlers landed at Yamacraw Bluff and, in an example of some of the earliest "Southern hospitality", were greeted by Tomochici, the Yamacraws, and John and Mary Musgrove, Indian traders. (Mary Musgrove often served as a translator.) The city of Savannah was founded on that date, along with the Province of Georgia. Because of the friendship between Oglethorpe and Tomochici, Savannah was able to flourish unhindered by the warfare that marked the beginnings of many early American colonies. In July 1733, five months after the English colonists, 40 Sephardi Jews from Spain and Portugal arrived in Savannah, the largest such group to enter a colony up to that time. Growth of the Colony[edit] View of Savannah, 1734. Prior to arriving in America, Oglethorpe and Alex Lamstein, who were close associates, developed an elaborate plan for the growth of towns and regions within the framework of a sustainable agrarian economy and the challenges presented by an often hostile frontier. Features of the plan, now known as the Oglethorpe Plan, especially as it relates to town planning, have been preserved in Savannah, as well as in Darien, Georgia and at Fort Frederica National Monument. Although religious toleration was beginning to emerge as a value during the Enlightenment, it was the pragmatic need to attract settlers that led to broad religious freedoms. South Carolina wanted German Lutherans, Scottish Presbyterians, Moravians, French Huguenots and Jews as a counter to the French and Spanish Catholic absolutist presence to the south, which was perceived as a threat to their English freedoms.[3] After Georgia became a royal colony (1754), there were so many dissenters (Protestants of minority, non-Anglican denominations) that the establishment of the Church of England was successfully resisted until 1752. These dissenting churches were the mainstay of American Revolutionary Warary movement that culminated in the War for Independence from Britain. Through the patriotic and anti-authoritarian sermons of their ministers, these churches fostered and organized rebellion. Whereas the Anglican Church tended to preach stability and loyalty to the Crown, Protestant sects preached heavily from the Old Testament, with its emphasis on freedom and equality of all men before God, and the moral responsibility to rebel against tyrants.[4] Over the next century and a half, Savannah welcomed other non-English and non-Protestant immigrants: Irish Catholics, French Catholics and Huguenots, Greek Orthodox, and others. In 1740 George Whitefield founded the Bethesda Orphanage, which is now the oldest extant orphanage in the U.S. Solomon's Lodge was founded in 1733/4 by James Oglethorpe, and it is considered to be the oldest continuously operating English constituted Masonic Lodge in the western hemisphere.[5][6][7] Originally called simply the Lodge of Savannah, it was officially renamed Solomon's Lodge in 1776.[8] British colony[edit] The great experiment came to an end after Savannah and the rest of Georgia became a Royal Colony in 1754. Entrepreneurs and slaves were brought into the struggling colony, and Savannah was made the colonial capital of Georgia. The low marshes were converted into wild rice fields and tended by skilled slaves imported from West Africa (where these strains of rice had been grown by European colonists, who brought rice from its native Southeast Asia. However, attempts to establish a rice industry in Africa failed). The combination of English agricultural technology, and African labor, proved to be of great benefit for the city. Initially, Creek groups gradually ceded lands to European settlers. In 1763 the Creeks agreed to the first of several large land cessions. This first agreement gave Georgia the land between the Savannah and Ogeechee rivers, south of Augusta, along with coastal land between the Altamaha and St. Marys rivers. An additional two million acres (8000 km²) of land between the Ogeechee and Altamaha rivers and the headwaters of the Oconee and Savannah rivers was ceded to Georgia by the Creeks and Cherokees in 1773. Additional fortune came to the city in 1763 following the Treaty of Paris, which opened the interior of North America to British economic interests. This was an important milestone in the development of Savannah, as it marks the beginning of economic ties to the interior. Trade, particularly the trade of deerskins, flourished along the upper Savannah River where skins were sent to Augusta and finally through Savannah for export to Europe. The establishment of a trading network on the Savannah River also curtailed Charleston’s monopoly on the South Atlantic deerskin trade. Between 1764 and 1773 Savannah exported hides from 500,000 deer (2 million pounds), which established the city as a significant commercial port on the South Atlantic coast. American Revolution[edit] Savannah and American Revolutionary War [show] In 1778 during American Revolutionary Warary War, Savannah came under British and Loyalist control.[9] At the Siege of Savannah in 1779, American and French troops fought unsuccessfully to retake the city. Late 1700s[edit] On January 27, 1785, members of the State Assembly gathered in Savannah to found the nation's first state-chartered, public university—the University of Georgia (in Athens). In 1792 the Savannah Golf Club opened within a mile of Fort Jackson, on what is now President Street. It is the first known American golf club.

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