From the colonial period of our country’s history to the Revolutionary War, Civil War and more, Savannah has played a crucial role. In 1732, the area that is now Georgia was claimed by England as the last of the 13 original colonies; it was named Georgia after King George II. In November 1732, a British ship named “Anne” traveled along the Savannah River, led by James Edward Oglethorpe and containing 114 passengers. They landed on February 12, 1733.
Oglethorpe befriended Tomochichi, the Yamacraw chief of the area, and an Indian trader named Mary Musgrove. Because of the cordial relationships they formed, the passengers of the ship were allowed to settle in the area, the Yamacraw Bluff, without bloodshed.
First Planned City
The first city of the newly formed Georgia? Savannah, of course! Because Oglethorpe laid out the city in grid format that included wide streets and public squares for town meetings and community interaction (loosely patterned after London), Savannah has been called America’s first planned city. Of the 24 public squares laid out by Oglethorpe, 22 of them still exist.
A ban against slavery was instituted, but that only lasted until 1750; the liquor ban had already been overturned in 1742. Peace lasted until 1788, when the British overtook the city. Although Georgians in general didn’t jump on the independence bandwagon as quickly people in other colonies, “Savannah citizens played prominent roles in the cause of American independence,” including the Liberty Boys who met at Peter Tondee’s Tavern. In 1789, colonist forces – helped by the French – tried to take back Savannah by siege and then assault, but both strategies failed.
After independence became a reality, Savannah was the state’s first capitol. Farmers began planting cotton and rice in the area’s rich soil. Some became wealthy and built elaborate houses, and the city became a notable commercial port. The Savanna Cotton Exchange set cotton prices for much of the world and the port became one of the leading ones for cotton exports.
Dark days included fires in 1796 and 1820 that burned much of the city. Even more significant, plantation owner began increasingly dependent upon slave labor. More on that later.
Savannah Walking Tours: See for Yourself
Cool Savannah Tours & Gifts is located by the Savannah Cotton Exchange, right in the heart of Savannah’s history. We offer walking tours with guides that bring the city’s sometimes glorious, sometimes tumultuous history to life including our:
- Architecture and history tour: discover the city’s historic treasures of delightful architecture and hear how people from the past lived and enjoyed Savannah’s beauty and grace.
- Haunted Savannah pub tour: enjoy an exclusive tour of the best haunted pubs & bars that makes Savannah the best watering hole and the “Most Haunted City in America!”
- Ghost haunting tour: the coolest part of a Savannah walking tour? No matter where you step, you are walking over the dead. Unmarked graves exist under sidewalks, streets, houses and buildings.
Call us at (912) 231-3571 for more information about Savannah sightseeing tours today! Or, sign up for a trolley tour online and get a 10% discount using this promo code: 10percent