Daily Archives: March 9, 2013

History of Savannah Georgia (part 3)

By 1820, despite a hault in shipping caused by a quarantine of the city due to a recent outbreak of yellow feverSavannah had grown to become the eighteenth-largest urban area in the United States. Savannah may have seemed slow, but it was growing in wealth and reputation, and by 1820, Savannah was exporting $18 million worth of goods. The ugly truth about Savannah at this time, was that the wealth accumulated was mainly the product of slave labor an the forced removal of indigenous peoples of the region.

Slavery-

(Image courtesy of Willis Hakim Jones)

The cargo hold of a slave vessel

Officially slavery had been banned by General Oglethorpe and the founding Trustees within the 13th colony. Unofficially, slavery in Georgia was stillpracticed by importing enslaved laborers from South Carolina while the politicians in Savannah had their backs turned. Though a shifty excuse for the practice of slavery-it was a constant topic among Georgia colonists, who incessantly preached that the colony would never see prosperity unless it followed in suit with the example set by South Carolina. Tired of hearing the arguements, and mildly afraid of public backlash, the Trustees gave in and slavery was officially permitted in the beginning in 1750. Officially, slavery existed in Georgia one hundred fifteen years.

By the end of the 18th century the slave population exceeded the free population in Savannah (5,146 free and 8,201 slave in 1800). There is very little actual documentation as to the exact numbers outside of those found within the Census Bureau which state that between 1810 and 1830, there was a decrease in the number of slaves in the city, followed by an increase in the slave population from 9,478 in 1830 to 14,018 in 1850. Even as the population of free people of color began to boom and had risen by 68 percent between 1850 and 1860, the slave population remained relatively stable.

References:

http://www.kingtisdell.org/Slavery.htm

Buddy Sullivan, Georgia: A State History (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Press, 2003).

Men Picking Cotton, Robert E. Williams Photographs, 1872-1898, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, presented in the Digital Library of Georgia

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