Read a free history book

Submitted by Sammy Smith (sammy@thesga.org)

Is there an out-of-print University of Georgia Press history book that you’re interested in reading?

You can do it now! The University of Georgia Press has partnered with the Digital Library of Georgia project to supply free online versions of many interesting and important works.

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Consider James C. Bonner’s 1964 History of Georgia Agriculture, 1732-1860. Bonner describes the early land and labor systems of the state. This may sound pretty dry. But Bonner includes some interesting observations, like this regarding Colonial horticultural experimentation on page 13:

It was believed that the Georgia climate would produce exotic plants not grown elsewhere in the British possessions. To test this theory a “Trustee’s Garden” was laid out at Savannah, comprising a ten-acre experimental plat having a wide variety of soils. In this garden were grown oranges, olives, apples, pears, figs, vines, pomegranates, cotton, coffee, tea, bamboo, and also palma christi and other medicinal plants. After eight years of growth, the olive trees bore fruit which failed to mature, and cultivation of these trees was abandoned. Orange trees were more successful, and in 1770 more than 3,000 gallons of the juice alone were exported from the colony. This fruit was grown on the Georgia coast for more than a century afterwards, although subject to the hazards of winter freezes. The crop finally succumbed to the low winter temperature.

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And it gets more interesting! The Trustees’ Garden still exists! The remaining parcel is in Savannah’s historic district, and includes the Charles H. Morris Center, shown in the photo below from the Garden website.

The agricultural experiments Bonner describes, however, were very important to the economic development of this poorly understood continent.

So, here’s a question. Did you notice that one of the medicinal plants Bonner mentions is “palma christi”? Do you know what that is?

Where to find it