Letter to General Oglethorpe, August 23, 1736

SAVANNAH, August 23, 1736.

SIR, -- I choose to write rather than speak, that I may not say too much. I find it utterly impossible anything should be kept secret unless both parties are resolved upon it. What fell out yesterday is already known to every family in Frederica; but to many it has been represented in such a light that 'tis easy to know whence the representation comes. Now, sir, what can I do more ? Though I have given my reputation to God, I must not absolutely neglect it. The treatment I have met with was not barely an assault: you know one part of it was felony. I can't see what I can do but desire an open hearing in the face of all my countrymen of this place. If you (to whom I can gladly entrust my life and my all in this land) are excepted against as partial, let a jury be empanelled, and upon a full inquiry determine what such breaches of the law deserve. -- I am, sir,

Your obliged and obedient servant.

From other sources:
From the Sherpa Guide:
Touring Fort Frederica today, one can wander the old streets, view house foundations, and read signs that explain the significance of each site. Still visible is the foundation of the Hawkins-Davison House where John Wesley encountered the wrath of Mrs. Beatre Hawkins, who attacked him with a pistol and a pair of scissors. He made good his escape, but not before she had bit him and torn his shirtsleeve with her teeth.

From : John Wesley: A Biography By Stephen Tomkins

In July, Charles resigned the post, leaving on good terms with Oglethorpe who was happy to make the far more efficient John his secretary and advised Charles to take a wife. Returning to England, Charles wrote to John putting the blame squarely on Hawkins and Welch. The women found out about the contents of the letter, which John further explained to them. Welch treated him to the most scurrilous and profane outburst he had ever heard and Hawkins demanded a home visit. He found her in her bedroom where she attacked him with a pair of scissors and a pistol… While her husband held back the constable and the neighbors, Wesley held her by her wrists and she tore into his cassock until Mr. Hawkins pulled her off.

Note: Image from Georgia's Virtual Vault (
http://content.sos.state.ga.us/u?/postcard,1125) Postcard of the Hawkins-Davison House ruins at Fort Frederica.)

Charles' Journal, Mon., August 16th.

A faint breeze springing up, the pilot, weary of waiting a week to no purpose, said he would venture over the bar, though he feared there was not water enough. Accordingly we attempted it, and had got above half of the two miles between us and the sea, when a violent, squall arose, and drove the ship before it with incredible swiftness. Before it began we were almost becalmed, so that it saved the ship, at least, from being a-ground, though with the immediate hazard both of that and our lives. The sailors were in great consternation, expecting to be stranded every moment. The pilot cursed the ship most heartily, and the hour he set foot in her. Having scraped along the ground for some minutes before, the ship at last stuck. She got clear, and stuck fast a second time; and immediately fell into seven fathom water.

The Mate afterwards told me, it was one thousand to one but she had been lost by the Captain's folly and ignorance, in letting fly the mainsail, while we struck on the bar; which was the surest way to fix her there; as it must have done had we not been on the very edge of it.

Charles' Journal Fri., August 13th.

The wind was still contrary; so that we were forced to lie off the bar, about five miles from Charlestown.

Wed., August 11th, 1736, Charles' Journal

Coming on board our ship, I found the honest Captain had let my cabin to another. My flux and fever that has hung upon me, forced me for some nights past to go into a bed; but now my only bed was a chest, on which I threw myself in my boots, and was not overmuch troubled with sleep till the morning. What was still worse, I then had no asylum to fly to from the Captain; the most beastly man I ever saw; a lewd, drunken, quarrelsome feel; praying, and yet swearing continually. The first sight I had of him was upon the cabin-floor, stark naked, and dead drunk.

Charles' Journal, Thur., August 2d 1736

Mon., August 2d. I had observed much, and heard more, of the cruelty of masters towards their negroes; but now I received an authentic account of some horrid instances thereof. The giving a child a slave of its own age to tyrannize over, to beat and abuse out of sport, was, I myself saw, a common practice. Nor is it strange, being thus trained up in cruelty, they should afterwards arrive at so great perfection in it; that Mr. Star, a gentleman I often met at Mr. Lasserre's, should, as he himself informed L., first nail up a negro by the ears, then order him to be whipped in the severest manner, and then to have scalding water thrown over him, so that the poor creature could not stir for four months after. Another much-applauded punishment is, drawing their slaves' teeth. One Colonel Lynch is universally known to have cut off a poor negro's legs; and to kill several of them every year by his barbarities.

It were endless to recount all the shocking instances of diabolical cruelty which these men (as they call themselves daily practise upon their fellow-creatures; and that on the most trivial occasions. I shall only mention one more, related to me by a Swiss gentleman, Mr. Zouberbuhler, an eye-witness, of Mr. Hill, a dancing-master in Charlestown. He whipped a she-slave so long, that she fell down at his feet for dead. When, by the help of a physician, she was so far recovered as to show signs of life, he repeated the whipping with equal rigour, and concluded with dropping hot sealing-wax upon her flesh. Her crime was overfilling a tea-cup.

These horrid cruelties are the less to be wondered at, because the government itself, in effect, countenances and allows them to kill their slaves, by the ridiculous penalty appointed for it, of about seven pounds sterling, half of which is usually saved by the criminal's informing against himself. This I can look upon as no other than a public act to indemnify murder.

Monday, August 2, 1736

I set out for the Lieutenant Governor’s seat, about thirty miles from Charleston, to deliver Mr. Oglethorpe’s letters. It stands very pleasantly on a little hill with a vale on either side, in one of which is a thick wood; the other is planted with rice and Indian corn. I designed to have gone back by Mr. Skeen’s, who has about fifty Christian negroes. But my horse tiring, I was obliged to return the straight way to Charleston.

I had sent the boat we came in back to Savannah, expecting a passage thither myself in Colonel Bull’s. His not going so soon, I went to Ashley Ferry on Thursday, intending to walk to Port Royal. But Mr. Belinger not only provided me a horse, but rode with me himself ten miles, and sent his son with me to Cumbee Ferry, twenty miles farther; whence, having hired horses and a guide, I came to Beaufort (or Port Royal) the next evening. We took boat in the morning; but, the wind being contrary and very high, did not reach Savannah till Sunday, in the afternoon.

Finding Mr. Oglethorpe was gone, I stayed only a day at Savannah; and leaving Mr. Ingham and Delamotte there, set out on Tuesday morning for Frederica. In walking to Thunderbolt I was in so heavy a shower that all my clothes were as wet as if I had gone through the river. On which occasion I cannot but observe that vulgar error concerning the hurtfulness of the rains and dews of America. I have been thoroughly wet with these rains more than once, yet without any harm at all. And I have lain many nights in the open air and received all the dews that fell; and so, I believe, might anyone, if his constitution was not impaired by the softness of a genteel education.