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James Edward Oglethorpe
James Edward Oglethorpe by Alfred Edmund Dyer.jpg
Governor of Georgia
In office
Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by William Stephens
Member of Parliament
for Haslemere
In office
Preceded by Nicholas Carew
Succeeded by James More Molyneux
Personal details
Born (1696-12-22)22 December 1696
Godalming, Surrey, England
Died 30 June 1785(1785-06-30) (aged 88)
Cranham, Essex, England
Political party Tory
Spouse(s) Elizabeth (née Wright)
Alma mater Eton College, Corpus Christi, Oxford, a military academy, Paris, France
Profession Statesman, soldier, agriculturalist

James Edward Oglethorpe (22 December 1696 – 30 June 1785) was a British soldier, Member of Parliament, and philanthropist, as well as the founder of the colony of Georgia in what was then British America. As a social reformer, he hoped to resettle Britain's worthy poor in the New World, initially focusing on those in debtors' prisons.

Born to a prominent British family, Othethorpe left college in England and a British Army commission to travel to France, where he attended a military academy before fighting under Prince Eugene of Savoy in the Austro-Turkish War. He returned to England in 1718, and was elected to the House of Commons in 1722. His early years were relatively undistinguished until 1729, when Oglethorpe was made chair of the Gaols Committee that investigated British debtors' prisons. After the report was published, to widespread attention, Oglethorpe and others began publicizing the idea of a new colony, to serve as a buffer between the Carolinas and Spanish Florida. After being granted a charter, Oglethorpe sailed to Georgia in November 1732.

He was a major figure in the early history of the colony, holding much civil and military power and instituting a ban on slavery and alcohol. During the War of Jenkins' Ear, Oglethorpe led British troops in Georgia against Spanish forces based in Florida. In 1740, he led a lengthy Siege of St. Augustine, which was unsuccessful. He then defeated a Spanish Invasion of Georgia in 1742. Oglethorpe left the colony after another unsuccessful invasion of St. Augustine, and never returned. He led some British troops in the Jacobite rising of 1745 and was blamed for British defeat in the Clifton Moor Skirmish. Despite being cleared in a court martial, Oglethorpe would never hold British command again. He lost reelection to the House of Commons in 1754. He left England and served undercover in the Prussian Army during the Seven Years' War. In his later years, Oglethorpe was prominent in literary circles, becoming close to James Boswell and Samuel Johnson.

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