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Today in Georgia History
is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.

May 7

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George Whitefield

May 7, 1738 - Savannah
One of the most popular preachers in England and America in the 18th century first arrived in Savannah on this day in 1738.

George Whitefield was born in 1714 in England, and educated at Oxford, where he met John and Charles Wesley; together they were the first leaders of the Methodist movement. After the Wesleys came to Georgia, they invited Whitefield to join them in their missionary work. The Georgia Trustees officially appointed him minister to Savannah after the Wesleys left.

Whitefield preached with a passion and fervor unusual in an Anglican minister. That unorthodox style caused many churches to reject him. So, he preached outdoors and became the most popular minister in America, igniting the evangelical revival known as “The Great Awakening.”

During his travels, Whitefield collected money for an orphanage in Georgia; the Bethesda Orphan Home just south of Savannah opened in 1740. It still fulfills the mission of the man who first arrived in Georgia on May 7, 1738, Today in Georgia History.



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Fast Fact

Whitefield was a close friend of Benjamin Franklin, who unsuccessfully argued that Whitefield move the orphanage from Georgia to Philadelphia.

GHS Finding Aids

Cheshunt College collection on Bethesda College

Georgia records

William Hughes and Horace Bertrand Folsom family papers