This Day In History: Georgia’s Royal Governor Is Run Out Of Savannah

Royal Governor James Wright. Georgia Encyclopedia

On February 11, 1776, the American Revolutionary war was heating up. James Wright was a London-born lawyer and his family had deep family ties to the American Colonies through Britain that were not going to be easy to sever. They landed him a cozy position as Royal Governor of the Province of Georgia. A position that Wright enjoyed less when American rebels forced their way into his grandiose Savannah mansion and took him prisoner.

Wright practiced law in Charleston before being appointed colonial attorney general. Soon after his promotion, he began buying up swaths of land for plantations. His brazen loyalty to Britain was impressive. He was the only Royal Governor from the thirteen colonies to recoup control over the territory he represented during the American Revolutionary War.

Savannah waterfront (circa late 1800s). City of Savannah

He was a popular governor and was said to have been the most popular to serve in the position – Georgia at the time only had three. This may have been due to actions he took upon accepting the post. He shed most of the land he acquired in South Carolina and rooted himself firmly in Georgia where he diplomatically negotiated. He was able to obtain and sustain peace with both the Indians and with Britain. Difficulty arrived eventually with the Stamp Act. The Sons of Liberty took special notice that Georgia had implemented the law, and they tried ardently to end it. For them and the rest of the revolutionaries, the Stamp Act tread firmly on the premise behind the revolution’s purpose: no taxation without representation.

After he fled, Wright sustained talks and was able to trade with the rebels to keep his troops and ships supplied. The Revolution had been explosive and continued to intensify. Still not willing to give up, Wright made a last-ditch effort to take back Savannah with naval forces. He recognized the quandary and returned to England, but he did not stop there.

He returned with more troops to take back Savannah – and later did. Although Wright wanted to, he was not able to regain full control over the colony of Georgia. Nevertheless, Georgia was the only colony recaptured after taken by the American troops.

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