I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Oglethorpe Plan

This is Oglethorpe Square, in the Savannah Historic District, not far from my hotel.

James Oglethorpe founded the city of Savannah and the colony of Georgia on the same day in 1733. Despite what I thought I knew from American History class, the early settlers were not convicts. Oglethorpe had worked on prison reform in Parliament, addressing the issues created when debtor's prisons were closed and the inmates released with no means of support. Though few debtors ended up settling in Georgia, Oglethorpe envisioned a colony of agrarian equality, where land ownership was limited to fifty acres -- no large plantations, no slavery.

This system lasted only until he left Georgia in 1743. He had more lasting success with his plan for Savannah, where the Historic District still follows his model of a series of wards, each consisting of a square surrounded by eight blocks of houses and commercial buildings. This means that you never have to walk more than three or four blocks in the wretched heat without encountering a pretty park with shady benches, and I probably sat in every single one of them.

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