Abraham Baldwin

Abraham Baldwin (1754 - 1807)

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Senator Abraham Baldwin
Born in North Guilford, Guilford, New Haven, Connecticutmap
Ancestors ancestors
Died in Washington, Washington D C, United Statesmap
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Profile last modified | Created 28 Jul 2014
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Abraham Baldwin is Notable.
Senator Abraham Baldwin participated in the American Revolution

Abraham Baldwin is an NSSAR Patriot Ancestor.
NSSAR Ancestor #: P-107496
Rank: Chaplain (Colonel)

Preceded by
James Hillhouse

Preceded by
Josiah Tattnall
Abraham Baldwin
President pro tempore
of the US Senate
President pro tem

US Senator (Class 2)
from Georgia
Seal of the US Senate
Succeeded by
Stephen R. Bradley

Succeeded by
George Jones

Abraham Baldwin "Founding Father"

A braham Baldwin was a man of outstanding character and stature during the beginning years of the founding of our country. His desire to minister and educate others, before and during the Revolutionary war, enabled him to achieve great things politically, later in his life.

A braham Baldwin participated in the Revolutionary War as a Chaplain, ministering to fallen soldiers; a political leader and statesmen as a member of the House of Representatives and Congressman; Founding father of the University of Georgia, writing the first charter for Franklin College, first state-charted public institution of higher education in the United States. As a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, he was a framer of the united states constitution, taking part in drafting the proposed document until its completion. The United States Constitution was created September 17, 1787, Ratified on June 21, 1788, for the purpose of replacing the Articles of Confederation (1777) and Abraham, representative for the state of Georgia, was one of 40 to sign it.[2]

Origin and Family

B orn November 22, 1754, in Guilford, New Haven County, Connecticut, Abraham was the son of Michael Baldwin, blacksmith of the town of Guilford[citation needed], and Lucy Dudley.[3][4]. He had 11 siblings; 4 of which were born to the same mother, and 7 half brothers and sisters, born to Michael’s 2nd wife.[5][6]

Abraham moved with his family to New Haven Connecticut in 1769 to attend private schools, and eventually graduate Yale College.[4][6] His father must certainly have gone into debt, trying to educate his children during his lifetime. Other members of Abraham’s family also attained distinction; his sister Ruth married a poet and diplomat; his half-brother Henry was Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.[5][6]


A braham attended Yale College, in New Haven, Ct., [6]where he was a prominent member of the Linonian Society,[7] graduating age 18 in 1772. [6] He was licensed to preach in 1775, but became a Tutor at Yale instead. He resigned in 1777 to join the army.[8]

Revolutionary Army

Abraham served as a part-time Chaplain with Connecticut forces in 1778; and resigned from Yale as tutor on February 1, 1779 to become a full-time Chaplain in the Revolutionary War.[9] He served in Brigadier General Samuel H Parson's brigade, being only 1 of 2 brigade chaplains in Connecticut's forces.[9]After American forces reorganized in 1781, he became part of the Connecticut brigade and stayed there until June 3, 1783, when a preliminary peace treaty was announced and the army was demobilized.[9] [10]

During his military service, he spent time with men from a wide variety of economic backgrounds which opened up his views with regard to the future of the colonies.[11]

Enduring the harshness of the winter, in 1779-1780, near Morristown, New jersey, Baldwin wrote of their hunger "and I think it is very likely to continue for the winter----nothing to eat or drink for men or cattle or at least not half allowance and no prospect of that much longer". One of his famous sermons as army chaplain was to the Connecticut line in 1782. There had been some talk of mutiny and in response, he preached about the obligation to defend liberty.[9] In 1781 he declined an offer from his alma mater (Yale) of a professorship of divinity, partly because of salary[9], and so he could also pursue the study of law.

'Career and Politics'

On April 12, 1783 he appeared before the Examination Counselors in Fairfield Connecticut, and obtained a license to practice law in that state.[9][5][6] He moved to Savannah Georgia sometime after because on January 14, 1784 he asked the House of Assembly for a license to practice law in Georgia.[9] He was admitted to the Georgia State Bar and within three months, elected to the State legislature, where he helped create Franklin College, which developed into the University of Georgia, where Baldwin served as president from 1786 to 1801, a time that included the period before the university actually offered classes. [12]

In 1785, he wrote the charter for [Franklin College] (oldest college at the University of Georgia). This document was based on the theory that “a popular government can succeed only when its citizens are educated”. The document was the first of its kind to establish a state university in the United States. He believed that America’s youth were the “rising hope of our land”. Many considered Abraham Baldwin to be the “father of the American state university system”. [13] The school was architecturally modeled on Baldwin's alma mater, Yale. The University of Georgia's mascot, the Georgia Bulldogs were a tribute to Baldwin. Yale University is represented by the Yale Bulldogs.[14]

His father died in 1787 and and Baldwin undertook to pay off his debts and educate, out of his own pocket, his half-brothers and half-sisters.[6] The same year he served as delegate to the Constitutional Convention) US Constitutionheld in Philadelphia (Baldwin had already been elected to attend the Continental Congress). Georgia had 4 delegates, Abraham Baldwin; William Few'; William Houston; and William L Pierce.

The latter two did not sign the US Constitution[15][16]

On July 2, 1787, Baldwin was appointed to the Committee of Eleven that proposed the [5] Great Compromise between the large states and the small states regarding congressional representation. James Madison's notes indicate that earlier that day the Georgia delegation had been split on the matter, with Baldwin voting for equal representation in the Senate and Houston voting against it.[17] This resulted in a 5-5-1 vote that led to eventual compromise. Maryland's Luther Martin accused him of having done so not from conviction but from the fear that the delegates from the small states would otherwise leave and dissolve the Convention. Others have credited Baldwin for this conciliatory, and statesmanlike, action.[12] (Cited by Vile with reference to Saye 1988, 85).

Baldwin's point of view

On August 13, the Convention was discussing qualifications for members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Some delegates thought it would be unfair to immigrants to require that, as a condition of election, they be citizens longer than required under the [6] Articles of Confederation. Baldwin said he could see no difference between this qualification and the 25-year minimum age requirement.[12]

Baldwin defended continuation of the slave trade, a position that appeared to coincide with his advocacy of states' rights. When the Convention was discussing the limitation of slave importation, Baldwin made it clear that he thought the delegates should distinguish between "national" and "local" matters. He also expressed concerns typical for someone from the southernmost state that put him at some odds with other Southerners (like those from Virginia) as well as with Northerners:[12]

"Georgia was decided on this point. That State has always hitherto supposed a General Government to be the pursuit of the central States who wished to have a vortex for every thing–that her distance would preclude her from equal advantage– & that she could not prudently purchase it by yielding national powers. From this it might be understood in what light she would view an attempt to abridge one of her favorite prerogatives. If left to herself, she may probably put a stop to the evil."[12]

Although referring to the slave trade as an "evil" that Georgia might one day eliminate, Baldwin appears to have immediately questioned whether Georgia would in fact be inclined ever to end it. Thus, he offered as "one ground for this conjecture" the belief of a sect, presumably Hindus[12] (Note: cited by Vile with reference to Bradford 1981, 205) who carried their ethics beyond the mere equality of men, extending their humanity to the claims of the whole animal creation".[12]If the people of Georgia were not altogether certain whether African Americans were equal, it hardly seemed likely that they would ever believe that the rest of the animal kingdom were so. Rather shockingly, Baldwin appeared, however indirectly, to be comparing claims for equality for African Americans to claims for the equality between men and beasts![12]

On August 18, Baldwin served on the Committee on State Debts and Militia. Four days later, he was appointed to the Committee on Slave Trade and Navigation, and on August 31, he was appointed to the Committee on Postponed Matters. Perhaps in part because of his service on the Committee on Slave Trade and Navigation, Baldwin altered a resolution on August 25 to provide that slave imports would be taxed according to the "common impost on articles not enumerated"[12]

On September 3, Baldwin argued that the example of state eligibility to other offices was inapplicable to Congress. He reasoned that the state legislatures were "so numerous that an exclusion of their member would not leave proper men for offices. The case would be otherwise in the General Government"[12]Baldwin's observation on September 14, indicating that the incompatibility clause would not apply to offices created by the Constitution itself, does not seem to have been followed up with any action on the part of the Convention delegates [12]

After serving Georgia honorably in the Continental Congress, Abraham Baldwin was again chosen by the state to serve as one of its two members in the new United States Congress. The House of Representatives was created by the recently adopted Constitution to which Baldwin was a signatory. Baldwin represented Georgia continually from 1789 until his death in 1807. He was a member of the House of Representatives from 1789-1799, and a member of the Senate from 1799 until 1807. He served under Presidents George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.[18] _________________________

'Death and Legacy'

Baldwin has been honored by the United States Postal Service with a 7¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.[citation needed]

Baldwin County, Alabama; Baldwin County, Georgia; Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia; Abraham Baldwin Middle School in Guilford, Connecticut; and Baldwin streets in Madison, Wisconsin and Athens, Georgia, are named in his honor.[19] The University of Georgia has erected a statue of Baldwin on the historic North Campus quad in his honor as its founding father.[8]


  1. Died in office, seat vacant March 4, 1807 – August 27, 1807 when seccessor appointed.
  2. Founding fathers of the United States, retrieved from wikipedia.org at {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founding_Fathers_of_the_United_States]
  3. New Georgia Encyclopedia, retrieved from {http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/abraham-baldwin-1754-1807]
  4. 4.0 4.1 Georgia Historical Society publication on Abraham Baldwin's early years; retrieved from {http://georgiahistory.com/education-outreach/online-exhibits/featured-historical-figures/abraham-baldwin/baldwin-early-years/]
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 A Biography of Abraham Baldwin 1754-1807; Revolution To Reconstruction and beyond; retrieved from [1], on 9-11-2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 America's Founding Fathers - Delegates to the Constitutional Convention. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2014, from {http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_founding_fathers_georgia.html#Baldwin]
  7. Linonian Society. (2014, September 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:27, October 1, 2014, from {http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Linonian_Society&oldid=626120816].
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Special Report on the Abraham Baldwin Statue Initiative". UGA's External Affairs; Retrieved September 30, 2014, from {http://dar.uga.edu/development/baldwin_statue_initiative/baldwin_bio.html]
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 Georgia Historical Society; Baldwin Revolutionary War Chaplain; retrieved 8/31/2014 from [2]
  10. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress; 1774 to Present; Biography of Abraham Baldwin: A Georgia Yankee as Old-Congress Man; Retrieved from [3]
  11. Abraham Baldwin | US Founding father| Article published by Constitutionday.com; retrieved 8/31/2014 from {http://www.constitutionday.com/baldwin-abraham-ga.html]
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 The bill of rights: almost an afterthought?” Retrieved from {http://www.historyandtheheadlines.abc-clio.com/ContentPages/ContentPage.aspx?entryId=1129168] From the collections of ABC CLIO
  13. Retrieved 8/31/2014 from {http://arago.si.edu/index.asp?con=1&cmd=1&mode=1&tid=2029352]
  14. Abraham Baldwin. (2014, September 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05:25, October 3, 2014, from [4]
  15. Baldwin and the Constitution|Georgia Historical Society; retrieved from {http://georgiahistory.com/education-outreach/online-exhibits/featured-historical-figures/abraham-baldwin/baldwin-and-the-constitution/]
  16. America's Founding Fathers; Georgia Representation retrieved from: {http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_founding_fathers.html] He also served from 1786 to the end of his life as a delegate from Georgia to the Continental Congress, to the Annapolis Convention, (note: could not verify that he was in fact at the Annapolis Convention) to the U.S. House of Representatives, and to the U.S. Senate.<ref>The Bill of Rights: Almost an Afterthought? Retrieved 8/31/2014 from {http://www.historyandtheheadlines.abc-clio.com/ContentPages/ContentPage.aspx?entryId=1149562&currentSection=1129168&productid=2]</li> <li id="_note-6">[[#_ref-6|↑]] Avalon Project; Documents in law, history and diplomacy. Yale Law School; Lillian Goldman Law Library; Madison Debates July 2, 1787: Retrieved from {http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/debates_702.asp#2]</li> <li id="_note-Congressional">[[#_ref-Congressional_0|↑]] Baldwin Congressional Years 1789-1807|Georgia historical society; retrieved from {http://georgiahistory.com/education-outreach/online-exhibits/featured-historical-figures/abraham-baldwin/baldwin-congressional-years-1789-1807/]</li> <li id="_note-7">[[#_ref-7|↑]] Odd Wisconsin Archives. Wisconsinhistory.org (2006-03-29). Originally cited by wikipedia retrieved from {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Baldwin] 10-1-2014</li></ol></ref>
  • The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. America's Founding Fathers - Delegates to the Constitutional Convention. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2014, from http://www.archives.gov/

......Note: citation url for Georgia Representation; Abraham Baldwin etal {http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_founding_fathers_georgia.html#Baldwin] retrieved 10-16-2014.

  • Dictionary of American Biography; Furlong, Patrick J. “Abraham Baldwin: A Georgia Yankee as Old-Congress Man.” Georgia Historical Quarterly 56 (Spring 1972): 51-71; Coulter, E. Merton. Abraham Baldwin: Patriot, Educator, and Founding Father. Arlington, VA: Vandamere Press, 1987. Retrieved 9/30/2014 from [7]
  • A Biography of Abraham Baldwin 1754-1807 < Biographies < American History From Revolution To Reconstruction and beyond; 1994-2012 G M W - University of Groningen – Humanities Computing.

--Note: John Vile cites works from albert saye as mentioned above)

  • Saye, Albert B. 1988. "Georgia: Security through Union." In Patrick T. Conley and John P. Kaminski, eds. The Constitution and the States: The Role of the Original Thirteen in the Framing and Adoption of the Federal Constitution. Madison, WI: Madison House.

--John Vile cites works of MM Bradford as mentioned above

  • Bradford, M. M. 1981. Founding Fathers: Brief Lives of the Framers of the United States Constitution. 2nd ed. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. Pg 205
  • Stanfield, Jack (2001). America's Founding Fathers: Who Are They? Thumbnail Sketches of 164 Patriots, published in 2001. Citation used by wikipedia; retrieved 9-11-2014 from {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Baldwin]
  • Smith, Gerald J. "Abraham Baldwin (1754-1807)." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 06 August 2014. Web. 31 August 2014.

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Images: 8
Abraham Baldwin (1754-1807)
Abraham Baldwin (1754-1807)

Revolutionary War-Chaplain
Revolutionary War-Chaplain

Abraham Baldwin 7- cent stamp
Abraham Baldwin 7- cent stamp

Yale University Motto
Yale University Motto

Abraham Baldwin Image 5
Abraham Baldwin Image 5

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On 3 Aug 2015 at 01:27 GMT Maureen (Henigan) Rosenfeld wrote:

Should Special Improvement Projects be removed from the categories?

On 3 Nov 2014 at 16:22 GMT Dan Thompson wrote:

Wonderful job Katie, I'm nominating for POTW.

Abraham is 38 degrees from Graham Chapman, 21 degrees from Janet Wild and 12 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.