James Oglethorpe was born on December 22, 1696 in Surrey to a wealthy family. His family had a strong military tradition, and he obtained a comission in the army aged 15. Upon returning to England after action abroad he killed a man in a brawl, and served 5 months in a prison.

In 1722 he became an MP (for Haslemere) for the Tory Party, the seat that his father had occupied. Shocked by the conditions in the prisons of the time, especially those for debtors, he brought this issue to the attention of Parliament. He later chaired the enquiring committee on this matter. Another concern of his was that of press gangs.

He believed that colonisation was the answer to poverty and domestic unrest. He acquired permission for the creation of a new colony, Georgia in 1732. Georgia was of military import, because it shared a border with territory controlled by Spain. In 1745 he raised troops to form an army to respond to the Jacobite invasion of England. He was later court-martialled for lingering in the pursuit of the enemy, but was acquitted.

His policies of oppostion, and his philanthropy showed that he was not motivated simply by the possibilities of power and wealth, which represented an important strand within the culture of the time, which was referred to as "Patriotism" by his contemporaries.

In 1785, after an unusually long life for the time, James Oglethorpe died.

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