Showing posts with label GEORGIA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GEORGIA. Show all posts

Jekyll Island Georgia - Birthplace of a Conspiracy

In 1886, the great Victorian author Robert Louis Stevenson published his famous novel entitled The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In the same year, the wealthiest families in America founded The Jekyll Island Club and built its magnificent clubhouse on Jekyll Island, Georgia. These two events were utterly unrelated to each other.

Jekyll Island Club Hotel
Jekyll Island was so named long before Stevenson’s birth by General James Oglethorpe, the founder of the colony of Georgia, in honor of an associate of his who was a judge in 18th century London.

General James Oglethorpe
To learn more about General Oglethorpe, please see my article on Savannah elsewhere on this website. The club ended its existence as such during World War Two, although the clubhouse survives and is now a hotel. However, in its early years, the club membership included Joseph Pulitzer, J P Morgan, the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts and many of the other prestigious families of America’s gilded age, who built vacation cottages nearby.

Pat and I visited Jekyll Island in August 2013, the centennial of a conspiracy for which the American people are about to pay a terrible price. I refer to the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913 and the imminent destruction of the US dollar consequent upon a century of “money printing”. The concept of creating a privately owned central bank, with unlimited power to increase the supply of dollars as it saw fit, would have attracted opposition nationwide. Indeed, it was something that the Founding Fathers had warned against over a century earlier. Therefore it was necessary for the conspirators to proceed with the utmost secrecy. A few leading financiers and Treasury Department officials gathered in New York City, unobserved by the press. They left New York in a private railroad car, departing from a distant platform, after which the sealed train traveled nearly a thousand miles south to a point on the Atlantic coast opposite Jekyll Island. Under cover of darkness, the conspirators completed their journey to The Jekyll Island Club by boat. Secrecy was such that mention of the last names of the visitors was forbidden, so that the club servants did not know enough to disclose their identities.

Woodrow Wilson signs Federal Reserve Act
In attendance at the meeting were Senator Nelson Aldrich; Paul Warburg, a German financier; Frank Vanderlip, president of National City Bank; Henry P. Davison, a J.P. Morgan partner; Benjamin Strong, vice president of Banker's Trust Co.; and A. Piatt Andrew, former secretary of the National Monetary Commission and then assistant secretary of the Treasury. The party set to work and, within a week or two, had devised the system of Federal Reserve banking which is presently destroying the nation.

The Federal Reserve was created on December 23, 1913, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act into law. The purchasing power of a 1913 dollar differed very little from the purchasing power of a dollar created in the late 18th century when the United States was founded. Yet a 2013 dollar has the purchasing power of a 1913 nickel. Such are the joys of “quantitative easing”! It cost $1 to enter Jekyll Island in 1985. Today it cost us $6. Such is the pace of an inflation, which even constant manipulation of US government statistics is failing to conceal. As the old Chinese proverb goes “May you live in interesting times”.

Its role as the birthplace of the coming financial holocaust cannot detract from the natural beauty of the island and the skill with which the historic district has been restored. There are untouched beaches, salt marshes, oak tree canopies, and protected sea turtles, whose nesting season is from May to October. Visitors are asked not to disturb these majestic creatures during that time, when only red “turtle-friendly” lights should be used on the beach at night.

In addition to diverse wild life, Jekyll Island is a paradise for bird enthusiasts. Birds commonly found here include American Oystercatchers, Starlings, Herons, Snowy Egrets, Western Sandpipers, Wilsons Plovers and White Ibis, not to mention seagulls and bald eagles. The island is host to a tennis center, a soccer complex, a beach music festival and fine golf courses.

Princess Kate, Prince William, and Prince George
As we passed the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, I was impressed by its immaculate croquet lawn. The city closest to the island is Brunswick, which claims to be the shrimp capital of the world and which was named after the city in that part of Germany once home to the Georges who sat on the British throne. Coincidentally another George, heir to that throne, was born last month (July 23, 2013).

Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island
St Simon’s Island is the next island to Jekyll and it contains Fort Frederica, built by Oglethorpe in 1736 to help protect his new colony of Georgia from the Spanish. One usually thinks of America’s frontiers as being “out west”, but these islands once sat on the frontier between British Georgia and Spanish Florida, which was the scene of many skirmishes between these two European powers. The fort was named in honor of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, who died before he was able to inherit the throne from his father, King George II. He did however manage to father the child who eventually reigned as George III and who managed to lose his American colonies.

How sad it is therefore that, with so much history to enjoy and with all the pleasures available on this beautiful island, rich financiers should instead have used their time here in 1913 to destroy the US dollar. Did they take comfort from the fact that this currency collapse was unlikely to occur while they were alive?

This piece, written by Bob, was originally posted on our website on August 10, 2013.

Savannah - America's Youngest Colony

King George II

General James Oglethorpe
What did King George II of England do with the Royal Charter, which he signed on June 9, 1732 and which provided for the settlement of what is now the State of Georgia? The answer is that he gave it to General James Oglethorpe, a 35-year old soldier and member of parliament.

Oglethorpe and a small band of settlers then crossed the Atlantic and reached what is now the mouth of the Savannah River early in 1733. They then sailed 18 miles up river to the site of what is today the City of Savannah. Oglethorpe selected the site as being easy to defend and had soon erected a circle of forts to protect the new city, some of which stand to this day. The King had not turned over to Oglethorpe a land flowing with milk and honey. The area was far to the south of the nearest British colonies in the Carolinas.  The land was swampy and, for much of the year, the climate was humid and unhealthy. To make matters worse, Oglethorpe needed to spend much of his time and resources fighting with the Spaniards who controlled Florida. It is greatly to Oglethorpe's credit that the new colony of Georgia survived and that he founded the City of Savannah.

Savannah laid out in grid pattern

It can be said that Savannah was the first "planned" city in North America. Oglethorpe laid out the roads of Savannah in the shape of a series of 24 squares. In fact Oglethorpe seems to have been a very decent man. He fiercely opposed negro slavery. He worked for good relations with the local Creek Indians. He fought against "the press gang", which forcibly conscripted civilians into the Royal Navy. Finally, he retired to England and enjoyed a long and happy marriage before dying at the age of 88 in 1785.  He therefore lived to see the birth of the new nation, including Georgia as the thirteenth and youngest colony. He much approved of this turn of events and was very happy to welcome John Adams, when he arrived in London as the first US ambassador.

How Cranham Hall looked when Bob purchased it

Oglethorpe married Elizabeth Wrighte, who brought into the marriage a property named Cranham Hall, Essex, which she had inherited from her father and brothers. Cranham Hall lies only 20 miles to the east of Central London. Oglethorpe lived there for the final 30 years of his life. In fact, he died there. The story of James Oglethorpe made a big impact on me. I had learned all about him when I was passing through Savannah in 1963.  Fourteen years later, in 1977, I was therefore intrigued to read in the press, when I was living in London, that Cranham Hall was for sale by auction. I attended that auction. There were plenty of people there, but few bidders.  I was one of the bidders and the property was eventually knocked down to me at a low price. I had become the owner of a historic mansion and six acres of land. It was my plan to restore Cranham Hall as a museum telling the story of Oglethorpe's eventful life, and then to open it to tourists from Georgia.  Perhaps the State of Georgia would even help finance it. There were two major obstacles to my idea. Firstly, Cranham Hall had fallen into disrepair and the costs of its restoration would be huge. Secondly, it was not the actual house in which Oglethorpe had died. The original Cranham Hall was built prior to 1600. It had burned down soon after Oglethorpe's death.

In 1800, the present Cranham Hall was built on the same site and incorporated a small part of the old house. Yet that is not quite the same thing as being the house in which Oglethorpe had died. All Saints Church is adjacent to Cranham Hall.  Oglethorpe and his wife are buried under the center of its chancel, but I still needed the original Cranham Hall to make my scheme credible. Fortunately, I was quickly able to sell the property to a local millionaire at a good profit. He made it his own home and restored it beautifully. The Oglethorpes, resting peaceful in the church next door, must surely approve.

Cranham Hall after renovations
 Another fourteen years passed. I found myself in Savannah once again in 1991.  Pat and I were living in Florida at the time. At the time, our children were enthusiastic Girl Scouts, so the family made a weekend trip to Savannah to visit the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of The Girl Scouts of America.
Birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low

Juliette Gordon Low
The house in which she was born in 1860 is located on Oglethorpe Avenue, Savannah. It is an elegant mansion, built in 1821, furnished in the style of the 19th century and including much of her artwork and memorabilia. It was well worth the visit and the project reminded me very much of what I had once hoped to do for General Oglethorpe at Cranham Hall. Nevertheless, the visit gave me a longer opportunity to inspect the squares with which Oglethorpe had laid out Savannah. The grid pattern is unique. The squares are now full of tall oak trees providing much needed shade from a hot sun. One square contains a statue of Oglethorpe himself.  Another contains a memorial to the Indian chief who permitted Oglethorpe and his party to settle. Square after square of well preserved 18th century houses make this a very special city.

It was thrilling to see the architecture of Oglethorpe form the background to the famous 1997 movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", which is set in Savannah. Today, Savannah pays tribute in many ways to Oglethorpe as its founding father. He surely deserves it.

This piece, written by Bob, was originally posted on our website on November 10, 2008.