General James Oglethorpe, a colonial representative of King George II to the American colonies, was sent to create a buffer between the English colony and the Spanish and French colonies in Florida and Louisiana. King George II wanted to create a buffer to protect the Carolinas from these competing colonial powers. In November 1732, the ship Anne sailed from Britain carrying 114 colonists, including General James Oglethorpe and landed at Yamacraw Bluff. These colonists were greeted by Tomochici, the Yamacraws, and John and Mary Musgrove, traders with the Yamacraws. The city of Savannah was founded on that date, along with the Province of Georgia. Because of the friendship between Oglethorpe and Tomochichi, 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 arrived, 41 Jews from the Sephardi community in London arrived in Savannah, the largest group of Jews to arrive in the British colonies up to this point.
Prior to arriving in America, Oglethorpe developed an elaborate plan for the town and regional growth within the framework of a sustainable agrarian economy. Features of the plan, now known as the Oglethorpe Plan, have been preserved in Savannah. Although religious tolerance was a value during the Enlightenment, it was the need to attract settlers that led to the acceptance of many religions. South Carolina wanted German Lutherans, Scottish Presbyterians, Moravians, French Huguenots and Jews as a counter to the French and Spanish Catholic presence in the South. 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.
Oglethorpe's great experiment came to an end after Savannah and all of Georgia became a Royal Colony in 1754. Entrepreneurs and slaves were brought into the colony, and Savannah became the colonial capital. The low marshes were converted into wild rice fields and tended by slaves forcibly brought from West Africa. 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. The Treaty of Paris in 1763, ending the Seven Year's War, was another boon to the city as it opened the interior of North America to British economic interests. Trade, particularly the trade of deerskins, flourished along the upper Savannah River where skins were sent through Savannah for export to Europe. Between 1764 and 1773, Savannah exported hides from 500,000 deer (2 million pounds), and became a significant port city in the Southern colonies.
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