Educated at Oxford, James Oglethorpe joined the Austrian army at age 17 and helped free Belgrade, Serbia, from Muslim Turks.
Returning to England, he unintentionally killed a man in a brawl and went to prison.
Upon release, he followed his father’s footsteps and served in Parliament.
He opposed slavery and, as a result of a friend dying in debtors’ prison, he promoted prison reform and founded a colony for debtors and religious refugees.
He secured Georgia’s Charter, named for King George II, and his ship “Ann” arrived with 115 settlers on JANUARY 13, 1733.
Minister Herbert Henry offered prayer at the ship’s arrival.
A year later, Salzburgers Protestant refugees from Austria settled the town of Ebenezer.
Huguenot Protestant refugees came from France.
Moravian missionaries arrived from Bohemia.
James Oglethorpe’s secretary was Charles Wesley, whose brother John Wesley became the colony’s Anglican minister in 1735.
Georgia’s original Charter, 1732, stated:
“There shall be a liberty of conscience allowed in the worship of God…and that all such persons, except papists, shall have a free excerise of their religion.”
Georgia’s first State Constitution, 1777, required:
“Representatives…shall be of the Protestant religion.”
In 1789, Georgia’s Constitution broadened to include:
“All persons shall have the free exercise of religion,”
and in 1877, it stated:
“Relying upon the protection and guidance of Almighty God…All men have the natural and inalienable right to worship God, each according to the dictates of his own conscience.”
The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.
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