The Southern colonies were Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. Their founding and historical development were distinct.
The best known of these colonies was Virginia. Its history grew out of the settlement of Jamestown in 1607, the first permanent English colony in North America. Captain John Smith's leadership saved it from collapse. It struggled for years until it started production of tobacco, which became its staple crop.
The Carolinas were founded by a group of eight proprietors. They wanted a colony with a diversified economy. John Locke, the eminent philosopher, helped write the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, a remarkable document. The proprietors founded Charleston in 1670. The inhabitants of what became South Carolina were a diversified lot: Scots, French Huguenots, and many slaves—who were black and Indian. The economy was based on the fur trade and, later, on rice and indigo.
North Carolina was settled by many adventurers from New England or indigent whites from Virginia. Its racial composition was much less heterogeneous than that of its southern neighbor. The colony was democratic and poor. It had few slaves.
Most of the Carolina proprietors sold their claims to the British Crown in 1729.
James Oglethorpe (1696–1785) was the founder of Georgia. He was an advocate of prison reform and religious toleration. Savannah was founded in 1733. Various nationalities settled there, including a number of Jews. Fifty acres were given to all settlers. The settlers included debtors, jailbirds, merchants, and craftsmen. Fifty acres was not enough to enable farmers to thrive, and Georgia's economy struggled.