James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia
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James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia

A Founder’s Journey from Slave Trader to Abolitionist

Michael L. Thurmond

Foreword by James F. Brooks

Title Details

Pages: 256

Illustrations: 31 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in

Formats

Hardcover

Pub Date: 02/15/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6604-3

List Price: $29.95

eBook

Pub Date: 02/15/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6601-2

List Price: $29.95

eBook

Pub Date: 02/15/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6602-9

List Price: $29.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Carl and Sally Gable Fund for Southern Colonial American History

James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia

A Founder’s Journey from Slave Trader to Abolitionist

Michael L. Thurmond

Foreword by James F. Brooks

General James Oglethorpe’s life, legacy, and fight against slavery

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Founded by James Oglethorpe on February 12, 1733, the Georgia colony was envisioned as a unique social welfare experiment. Administered by twenty-one original trustees, the Georgia Plan offered England’s “worthy poor” and persecuted Christians an opportunity to achieve financial security in the New World by exporting goods produced on small farms. Most significantly, Oglethorpe and his fellow Trustees were convinced that economic vitality could not be achieved through the exploitation of enslaved Black laborers.

Due primarily to Oglethorpe’s strident advocacy, Georgia was the only British American colony to prohibit chattel slavery prior to the American Revolutionary War. His outspoken opposition to the transatlantic slave trade distinguished Oglethorpe from British colonial America’s more celebrated founding fathers.

James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia uncovers how Oglethorpe's philosophical and moral evolution from slave trader to abolitionist was propelled by his intellectual relationships with two formerly enslaved Black men. Oglethorpe’s unique “friendships” with Ayuba Suleiman Diallo and Olaudah Equiano, two of eighteenth-century England’s most influential Black men, are little-known examples of interracial antislavery activism that breathed life into the formal abolitionist movement.

Utilizing more than two decades of meticulous research, fresh historical analysis, and compelling storytelling, Michael L. Thurmond rewrites the prehistory of abolitionism and adds an important new chapter to Georgia’s origin story.

Michael Thurmond’s James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia adds an inspiring new chapter to Georgia’s origin story. Oglethorpe’s 'intellectual friendships' with Ayuba Suleiman Diallo and Olaudah Equiano, two formerly enslaved Black men, shaped the prehistory of abolitionism and fueled the advent of the modern civil rights movement.

—Ambassador Andrew Young, civil rights icon

James Oglethorpe’s effect on the abolition movement is succinctly and convincingly proven in James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia. I believe this book will initiate a reevaluation of both Oglethorpe and Georgia’s important role in both the antislavery and abolition movements

—Eli Arnold, library director, Oglethorpe University

Michael Thurmond’s compelling narrative and fresh historical analysis brings to light the untold story of James Oglethorpe’s journey from slave trader to abolitionist. More importantly, James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia provides the historical backdrop for the inspiring and relentless struggle of enslaved Black Georgians who lived, fought, and died for freedom.

—Hermina Glass-Hill, CEO, Susie King Taylor Women’s Institute and Ecology Center

As extensive as the scholarship on James Oglethorpe has long been, it is going to take a significant new turn with the publication of Michael L. Thurmond's illuminating and impassioned biography. Thurmond puts the British general's emergence as an abolitionist front and center and offers intriguing new insights as to how and why Georgia alone of Britain's thirteen colonies banned slavery prior to the American Revolutionary War and why that ban ultimately proved to be so short lived.

—John C. Inscoe, editor of The Civil War in Georgia: A New Georgia Encyclopedia Companion

About the Author/Editor

MICHAEL L. THURMOND is the chief executive officer of DeKalb County, Georgia. He is the author of Freedom: Georgia’s Antislavery Heritage, 1733–1865 and A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History. Thurmond has previously served in the Georgia legislature, as director of Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services, as Georgia labor commissioner and as superintendent of DeKalb schools. In 1997 Thurmond became a distinguished lecturer at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government. He lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia.