|Repository:||University of Georgia Archives|
|Creator:||Baldwin, Abraham, 1754-1807|
|Title:||Abraham Baldwin papers|
|Quantity:||0.5 Linear feet (1 box)|
Abraham Baldwin, Georgia politician and educator, and Founder of the University of Georgia, was born in North Guilford, Connecticut, on November 22, 1754, to Michael and Lucy Dudley Baldwin. Michael, the local blacksmith, had moved his family (including Abraham and his seven half-siblings) to New Haven to secure an education for his children. There, Abraham attended Yale College, and remained three years after graduation to study theology. He was licensed to preach in 1775, but became a tutor at Yale instead, remaining there until 1779. He joined the Continental Army as a Chaplain, serving in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. During this service, he met George Washington, Nathanael Greene, and other future leaders. Yale asked him to return as a professor of Divinity in 1781, but Baldwin declined, preferring to study the law rather than submit to the narrow controlled environment at the college. After he was licensed to practice, he elected to move to Georgia in 1783, probably at the urging of Greene. Settling in Savannah, Baldwin quickly found his place in Georgia, and followed the relocation of the state capitol to Augusta. In the fall of 1784, he was elected to the legislature from Wilkes County, and soon became well-to-do by means of his thriving law practice. In February of 1784, he had been asked to sit on a board of trustees charged with administering a land grant of 40,000 acres set aside by the state for the purpose of establishing a "College or Seminary of Learning". Baldwin wrote the charter for the University of Georgia, and saw it adopted by the state legislature in January of 1785. This charter was the first ever written and adopted for a state-supported public University. The University, originally to be sited at the planned new state capitol in Louisville, was not built until 1801 due to a war with Creek Indians, and then it was situated at a spot on the Oconee River selected by a committee led by Baldwin. The town was named Athens, and work on the actual University was begun. Also in 1785, Baldwin was named a delegate to the Confederation Congress, where he served until the Constitution became the law of the land. From 1788 to 1798, he served in the House of Representatives, and he was elected a Senator by the state legislature that same year. He would remain in the U.S . Senate until his death, serving several times as President pro tempore of that body. He chaired the committee which structured the national executive branch, and accomplished much in the area of negotiations with the various Indian tribes in his adopted home state. A man of enormous personal integrity, he was able to avoid a duel when challenged. Baldwin was firmly committed to states' rights, and felt that, although slavery was wrong, that Georgia would eventually abandon it. He was opposed to war as a tool of political policy, and though originally more conservative in his political philosophies, gradually became more liberal, and counted Thomas Jefferson as a close friend. The day after the closing session of the 9th session of Congress (March 4, 1807), Abraham Baldwin died in Washington D.C., and was buried in Rock Creek Cemetery.
The collection consists of correspondence, remarks about and copies of legislation, financial documents, and writings by Abraham Baldwin.
Organized into four series: Addresses, correspondence, invitations and notices; legislative documents; fiscal documents; and miscellaneous documents.
Eighty-six of the 88 documents in the Abraham Baldwin Papers (1770-1808) came to the University of Georgia in 1901 as a result of a gift from Mrs. John F. Weir (Mary French Weir). In October of 1954, Dr. E. Merton Coulter donated to the collection the document "Observations on ye Literature of Georgia", which he had found amongst the papers of the late University Professor H.C. White. In January of 1963, a letter was purchased from the estate of Lester Hargrett. This letter, dated January 31, 1797, was from Baldwin to Mordecai Sheftall, pertaining to a pending claim the latter had in Congress.
Abraham Baldwin papers, UA97-092, University Archives, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.