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James Oglethorpe (1696-1785)

Burford, Thomas __Engraver
Place Made:
London Great Britain
Date Made:
ink on paper
Accession Number:
James Edward Oglethorpe (1696-1785) was the founder of the colony of Georgia. Oglethorpe had two primary goals for the Georgia colony. As a member of parliament Oglethorpe focused on issues relating to social reform, most specifically the plight of the poor. To provide relief to the rising numbers of debtors incarcerated in prison, he developed a scheme to transport numbers of them to America, along with persecuted foreign Protestants, to establish a utopian community. Oglethorpe was also keenly aware of the threat that the Spanish in Florida posed to the southern boundary of Carolina. Establishing a settlement south of Carolina would provide a defensive buffer to the existing colonies while also strengthening England’s trade position.

Oglethorpe is depicted in a suit of armor, emphasizing his military background and the defensive role against the Spanish that his colony assumed. The ermine cloak over his shoulders is indicative of his aristocratic upbringing. Curator Margaret Pritchard has suggested a symbolic relationship between this print and a contemporaneous print of Tomochachi Mico (c.1644-1739). Pritchard speculates that there may be a symbolic relationship between the two images with Oglethorpe’s ermine cape echoing Tomo Chachi Mico’s one of deerskin. History records a close friendship between the men. When Tomo Chachi Mico died in 1739 he was given an English military funeral.

RELATED OBJECTS: A View of Savannah… by George and Noble Jones (MESDA acc. 5497); Portrait of Tomochachi Mico by John Faber after William Verelst (MESDA acc. 1142.2).

DESCRIPTION: Mezzotint engraving; print of 3/4 length portrait of man wearing armor plate, ermine cape, waist sash with sword and white wig. The man’s body faces left as he looks right; his left hand holds a round bar, his right rests on a helmet. In the background are: left, a distant castle and right, two men on horseback.

Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton