Led by pastor Johann Martin Boltzius, the people of Ebenezer attempted to build a religious utopia on the
Because the Salzburgers maintained a degree of stability and economic prosperity, they became ardent defenders of the Trustees' ban on slavery and limited land ownership. When groups like the Malcontents called for changes in the colony's leadership, the people of Ebenezer argued that the Trustees had a progressive but sound vision for Georgia. Many Salzburgers believed that in order to realize their goal of building a religious utopia, they needed the social utopia promised by the Trustees. Thus, criticisms directed at the colonial leadership became criticisms of the Salzburgers as well.
Although the Salzburgers played a prominent role in the affairs of Ebenezer throughout the colonial era, the decision to allow slavery forced the settlement to change. Furthermore, after the Trustees lost their charter in 1752 and Georgia became a royal colony, the Salzburgers lost their most powerful allies. Consequently, their influence in Georgia politics waned.
Because of Ebenezer's strategic location in the defense of Savannah, it changed hands several times during the American Revolution (1775-83). The state of Georgia established a magazine there, and after the British
The fighting left the town in ruins, and it never fully recovered. The county seat moved to Springfield in 1799, and Ebenezer steadily declined until it had all but disappeared by 1855. The town's Jerusalem Church (later, Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church), finished in 1769, still stands. It is one of the few Georgia buildings to survive the Revolutionary War. John Adam Treutlen, Georgia's first state governor, lived in Ebenezer.
Charles C. Jones Jr., The Dead Towns of Georgia (Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Co., 1974).
George Fenwick Jones, The Salzburger Saga: Religious Exiles and Other Germans along the Savannah (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984).
Betty Wood, "A Note on the Georgia Malcontents," Georgia Historical Quarterly 63 (summer 1979): 264-78.
Shane A. Runyon, University of Florida
Robert Scott Davis Jr., Wallace State College, Hanceville, Alabama
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