Oglethorpe Day, or simply Georgia Day, held annually on February 12, is a day to celebrate the arrival of General James E. Oglethorpe in Georgia back in 1733. Unlike the other national holidays in the U.S., where holidays have special traditions practiced on those days, Oglethorpe day is celebrated mostly in schools and colleges in a more educational way. Dedicated to Oglethorpe and the establishment of Georgia in 1733, the day exists to commemorate the founding of Georgia.
History of Oglethorpe Day
General Oglethorpe was born on December 22, 1696. He was a British soldier, a member of parliament, a philanthropist, and a social reformer. He was among the most famous colonists of his era, and his major ambition was to travel to the New World, where there were people trapped in heavy debts.
After getting the charter to settle in the U.S. by King George II, General Oglethorpe and his men set sail in November 1732 and arrived on the shores of America on February 2, 1733. After letting a few men off the ship at Port Royal Island in South Carolina, the rest of them advanced to Savannah River and docked at Yamacraw Bluff. Thus, Oglethorpe and his men settled in the area which was named Georgia after the King of Great Britain, King George II, and this area became the thirteenth British colony in America.
Oglethorpe met with the local chieftains before settling in the area. Then, with the permission of the Creek chief Tomochichi, Oglethorpe and his men laid the foundations of the state of Georgia. Since his arrival, Oglethorpe’s motto was ‘Non-Sibi Sed Aliis,’ which translates to ‘not for self but for others.’ With this, he was among the first colonists in America to prohibit slavery and large-scale land occupation.
As far as the celebratory history of this day is concerned, schools, colleges, and civic centers have been celebrating this day in a rather artistic manner. Different races have been organized in schools, called the Petrels of Fire Race. Stage performances and skits have been part of the celebrations of this day. At the state level, the day is not much celebrated anymore, and the official status of the holiday is unclear. The last commemorating postal stamp was released in 1983, and since then, the state of Georgia has not been very enthusiastic about celebrating the day. Schools and colleges, though, have still maintained the celebration of this day in their own ways.
Oglethorpe Day timeline
Oglethorpe gets permission to set sail for America from King George II.
Oglethorpe and his crew arrive at Yamacraw Bluff and begin their land journey to the new world.
After agreeing with Creek Chief Tomochichi to settle in the area, Georgia becomes the 13th and southernmost Royal British Colony.
Georgia becomes one of the earliest, technically the fourth state, to ratify the U.S. Constitution
The Georgia General Assembly officially create the day to celebrate the arrival of Oglethorpe and his men and the founding of Georgia.
Oglethorpe Day FAQs
How did Oglethorpe treat Indians?
Unlike most Europeans, Oglethorpe treated the Indians like equals instead of inferiors.
Why did Oglethorpe create the colony of Georgia?
Named after King George II of Great Britain, the vision of Oglethorpe for Georgia was to create a colony where the unemployed and people in debt could settle and create something for themselves to alleviate their financial troubles.
What was the position of Oglethorpe in the colony?
Although Oglethorpe could not hold an office as per the rulings from the Royal Court, he still was the de facto leader of the colony. For his role in establishing the colony, he is regarded as the first governor of Georgia.
How to Observe Oglethorpe Day
Go to Yamacraw Bluff at Savannah
Since this is the spot where Oglethorpe and his men docked their ship, the best way to celebrate the day is by visiting this historical landmark. What are you waiting for?
Participate in your local school and college celebrations
Whatever activities your school or college has planned for the day, participate in at least one of the activities. It’s bound to be fun!
Read about Oglethorpe or Georgia’s history
It is always great to know about the history of your land and its founders. Reading books on them or sharing your knowledge about the local history is always a great way to celebrate the day.
5 Important Facts About Oglethorpe And Georgia
Served under-cover in the Prussian army
After losing the re-election for parliament, Oglethorpe served under-cover in the Prussian (German) army during the seven-year war.
Headquarters to civil rights movement
Georgia was home to Martin Luther King Jr. and was also the Headquarters of the civil rights movement.
Coca-Cola was invented in Georgia
The favorite drink of billions on earth, Coca-Cola, was invented in the land of Oglethorpe and his men.
The first state to prohibit slavery
Being a philanthropist, Oglethorpe was the first colonist in America to prohibit slavery and mass land occupation.
Chariots of fire
Students in Oglethorpe university run a race that they have to complete before or at the Carillon Bell’s 12th chime.
Why Oglethorpe Day is Important
He was the founder of Georgia
The day should be celebrated out of respect and honor for the founder of the state of Georgia. There should always be a sense of pride for our national heroes and founders.
He was the first colonist to prohibit slavery
Most of the colonists who came to America primarily had only one goal. The goal was to make wealth and gain independence from the crown. They made the local people their slaves and generated wealth for themselves. Oglethorpe was never like them, instead, he prohibited slavery and massive land occupation. This alone deserves acknowledgment.
It is a national holiday
It is always good to exhibit nationalism. This day gives any Georgian a reason to celebrate the history of this land and take pride in them being a citizen of the state of Georgia.
Oglethorpe Day dates