« ForrigeFortsett »
for intelligence and learning, to go to England and secure either the originals or transcripts, as provided in the act. Soon thereafter Mr. Howard sailed for London, but found it impossible, as might have been expected, to secure the originals, and very difficult to gain even access to them and permission to make transcripts. After several months delay, however, he got permission, and at once entered upon the work. He was engaged upon it about two years, and the result of his labors was twenty-two large manuscript volumes of about three hundred pages each, which he had bound in pasteboard and deposited in the Archives Rooms of the Capitol, in charge of the Secretary of State, where they remained until about 1848, when, in order that the Reverend Doctor Stevens might have access to them in the preparation of his scholarly history of Georgia, brought out under the auspices of the Georgia Historical Society, they were removed to the Society's library in Savannah. They remained in the custody of the Historical Society for about thirty-five years, when they were loaned to Colonel Charles C. Jones to be used by him in the preparation of his history of Georgia, published in 1883. When he completed his work, at the suggestion of Colonel Jones, they were restored to the Archives Rooms of the Capitol and remained there till they were removed to Oxford to be used by Professor Scomp, of Emory College, who was engaged in the preparation of an important historical work. In June, 1891, Professor Scomp's house was destroyed by fire, and with it perished not only his private library, together with many of his manuscripts, the fruits of years of toilsome research, but also all of Howard's transcripts of the London records, except three of the least important volumes, which Professor Scomp had left in the Capitol. At the same time probably perished many important records of the period of the War of the Revolution which can not now be found, and of which no copies were in existence anywhere. Thus, a hundred years after the close of the War of the Revolution, Georgia found herself in a worse condition, so far as the record of her Colonial and Revolutionary history was concerned, than she was in 1837, when a patriotic Legislature endeavored to secure and preserve the records of her early history; all because, instead of printing the material Mr. Howard had secured, together with those still in existence in our Archives Rooms, they were lent out first to one and then to another, and removed from place to place to be used by persons engaged in individual literary ventures. Fortunately, however, for this and succeeding generations, a public-spirited Legislature in 1902, actuated by a patriotic zeal which reflects credit alike on its members and
on the State, anxious to rescue from impending oblivion the rapidly fading traditions of a glorious commonwealth and of the heroic achievements of her illustrious sons, took up the work where the Legislature of 1837 laid it down, and made provision for the appointment by the Governor of some fit and proper person to compile and publish the Colonial, Revolutionary and Confederate records of the State; at the same time making an appropriation of money from the public treasury to pay for transcripts of the Georgia records still preserved in England. Under authority of this act the present compiler was appointed in December, 1902, to do the work, and in the month of January following entered upon the discharge of his duties. The difficulties that confronted him at the very threshold of his undertaking were almost appalling, the material upon which he had to work being so fragmentary, so scattered and so deficient. He did not despair, however, but went diligently to work gathering up all the official records and documents bearing on the early history of the State wherever to be found, beginning with the Charter and the appointment of the Trustees by King George the Second, in June, 1732. He has prosecuted the work in regular chronological order, and the first design was to compile and publish it in the same order; printing, to illustrate, everything of a public or official character concerning Georgia, either in England or America, and bearing date in the year 1732 under the date-line of 1732; and everything dated in 1733 under the date-line of 1733, etc. But it became apparent as the work progressed that its convenience and usefulness would be greatly enhanced by departing from this order of arrangement so far as to print in regular consecutive order, in volumes separate and distinct from those containing miscellaneous records and documents, the Journal of the Proceedings of the Trustees, the Minutes of the Common Council of the Board of Trustees, and the Journals of the Proceedings of the House of Assembly and of the Governor in Council during the administrations of the three Royal Governors. This arrangement was therefore adopted, and these records have been compiled and printed in volumes separate and distinct from the volumes containing miscellaneous Georgia documents and records, all of which have been compiled in the manner originally designed; all papers bearing the date of 1732 being printed under 1732, and all dated in 1733 under 1733, etc.
The greatest deficiencies in unbroken official records, as will be seen, are in the records of the legislative and executive departments of the State government during the period of the War of the Revolution. Of the Colonial period the records not to be found on this side of the Atlantic
could be, and have been, secured in London; but of the period of the Revolution the records that were lost or destroyed were irretrievably lost, no duplicates or transcripts ever having been made. The compiler has, however, in making up the documentary history of this period, utilized all the materials that could be found in the Capitol of the State and elsewhere, leaving no source of information unexplored, and still there are many unfilled gaps and hiatuses in the record of this period. The temptation to fill these gaps and to some extent, at least, to supply these missing links by the insertion of contemporaneous unofficial publications has been great; but the compiler has, in most cases, refrained, deeming it his duty, under the authority given him, to compile and publish only official records and documents. In a few instances, however, when it was impossible to secure anywhere original records and documents, but copies of undoubted authenticity were available, they have been utilized, acknowledgment being made in every instance of the sources from which they were obtained. Advantage has been taken, too, of the patriotic labors of the Georgia Historical Society, and reprints have been made of a few important documents heretofore printed by it in small editions, when the original could not be found in the Capitol. While many of the daily Journals of the Proceedings of the Legislature during the Revolutionary period have been lost, and the Minutes of the meetings of the Governor and Council are very incomplete, we have, in their original manuscript form all important acts of the Legislature during the period of the Royal Governors, and many of those enacted during the War of the Revolution. But few of these old laws, however, have been embodied in our compilation. Many of them are obsolete, and the substance of those not obsolete is still preserved in our Code. Occasionally, however, an old obsolete law throwing light upon the conditions which prevailed at the time of its enactment has been included.
Recourse has also been had to the records in the court-houses in the old counties which were settled before the Revolutionary War, and valuable historic materials, not to be found elsewhere, have been secured. While the compilation of Colonial and Revolutionary records is not as full and complete as the compiler earnestly desired to present to the public, it is believed to be the best now possible. No authentic record available has been omitted, and nothing of doubtful authenticity has been admitted.
The first volume contains the Charter of the Colony, and the Journal
of the Proceedings of the Trustees from 1732, down to the surrender of the Charter in 1752. Volume II contains the Minutes of the Proceedings of the Common Council of the Board of Trustees during the same period. Volume III is an account of Monies and Effects Contributed for Establishing the Colony of Georgia. Volume IV is the Private Journal of the transactions of the Trustees, kept by John Lord Viscount Percival, the first President of the Board of Trustees. Volume V is the diary kept by Colonel William Stephens, Secretary of the Board of Trustees at Savannah, usually referred to as "Stephens' Journal." Then follow in chronological order the Journal of the Proceedings of the President and Assistants and of the Governor in Council through the administrations of the two Presidents, Stephens and Parker, and the three Royal Governors, Reynolds, Ellis and Wright, down to the arrest, escape and flight of Governor Wright and the seizure of the colonial government by the Council of Safety in January, 1776.
After these come the Journal of the Proceedings of the first "Provincial Congress," which met in Savannah on the fourth of July, 1775, followed by the Journal of the Proceedings of the "Council of Safety," which had charge of public affairs in the Province until the organization of a constitutional government and the election of Governor Treutlen in 1777. Following these are the Journals of the Proceedings of the Commons House of Assembly and those of the Upper House of Assembly, beginning with the first Legislature under Governor Reynolds, the Peter Stuyvesant of Colonial Georgia, and ending with the last Legislature under Governor Wrigh
These volumes are followed by all that is in existence of the Proceedings of the first Constitutional Convention, which, having accomplished its work, adjourned in February, 1777; and of the Minutes of the Executive Office during the administrations of the Constitutional Governors, Treutlen, Houstoun, Wereat, Walton, Howly, Brownson, Martin and Hall; after which follow the Journals of the Republican Legislatures, so far as they have been preserved, during the same period, together with some of the important laws passed by the "Rebel Legislatures" during the progress of the war and immediately after its close, including the acts of confiscation and banishment, with lists of the names of persons proscribed by both the "Royal" and the "Rebel" Legislatures.
After the volumes containing the Minutes and Journals of the executive and legislative departments of the government follow the volumes containing miscellaneous documents and official correspondence between
the Colonial officers and agents in Georgia and the Trustees and officers of the British Government in England, arranged in strict chronological order from 1732 to the termination of British rule in 1783. These volumes of miscellaneous papers will be found to be very interesting, containing, as they do, a number of Indian treaties and maps of lands ceded by the Creeks and Cherokees to the King, and after the war to the State and Federal Government, and much matter personal to individuals and families living in Georgia prior to and during the War of the Revolution. In them bounty land warrants of Revolutionary soldiers are reproduced; old wills, bills of appraisement, conveyances and correspondence, not of a military, nor even of a strictly public character, but still of value and interest to the numerous descendants of the residents of the Province in Colonial times, and the actors in the stirring scenes of the War of the Revolution. Some of these were found among the State Archives in the Capitol, and others in the court-houses in the old counties along the eastern border of the State.
The compilation of Confederate records, beginning with the special message of Governor Brown to the Legislature on the seventh of November, 1860, on Federal relations and the Act of the Legislature of November 21, 1860, directing the Governor to call a convention of the people of the State to take into consideration the Federal relations of the State and the alarming situation then existing, will be found to be full and complete. It will contain, in addition to the proclamation and the act above referred to, the proclamation of the Governor calling the convention and ordering the election for delegates to sit in it; the complete journal of the convention containing the ordinances adopted by it, including the ordinances of secession, the correspondence between Governor Brown and President Davis concerning the Conscript Law; all the acts of the Legislature and proclamations of the Governor relating to the Georgia soldiers and the war and its conduct during its progress; the order of President Andrew Johnson establishing a provisional government and appointing James Johnson Provisional Governor after the surrender of the Confederate armies; the official papers of Provisional Governor Johnson; the complete journal of the convention of 1865, held under the order of the President; the inaugural address of Governor Charles J. Jenkins, and his messages to the Legislature; the reconstruction acts of Congress of 1867; the order of the commander of the third military district removing Governor Jenkins and Treasurer Jones and appointing General Ruger, U. S. A., as Military Governor, and Captain Rockwell,