An attempt is here made to present a field that has not been preoccupied. The student of American history has noticed allusions to certain Scotch Highland settlements prior to the Revolution, without any attempt at either an account or origin of the same. In a measure the publication of certain state papers and colonial records, as well as an occasional memoir by an historical society have revived what had been overlooked. These settlements form a very important and interesting place in the early history of our country. While they may not have occupied a very prominent or pronounced position, yet their exertions in subduing the wilderness, their activity in the Revolution, and the wide influence exercised by the descendants of these hardy pioneers, should, long since, have brought their history and achievements into notice.
The second distinctive and permanent settlement of Highland Scotch in the territory now constituting the United States of America was that in what was first called New Inverness on the Alatamaha river in Georgia, but now known as Darien, in McIntosh County. It was established under the genius of James Oglethorpe, an English general and philanthropist, who, in the year 1728, began to take active legislative support in behalf of the debtor classes, which culminated in the erection of the colony of Georgia, and incidentally to the formation of a settlement of Highlanders.
There was a yearly average in Great Britain of four thousand unhappy men immured in prison for the misfortune of being poor. A small debt exposed a person to a perpetuity of imprisonment; and one indiscreet contract often resulted in imprisonment for life. The sorrows hidden within the prison walls of Fleet and Marshalsea touched the heart of Oglethorpe--a man of merciful disposition and heroic mind--who was then in the full activity of middle life. His benevolent zeal persevered until he restored multitudes,