Abraham Baldwin is best known as the founder of the Franklin College & the University of Georgia, but was also a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787.
Born on Nov. 22, 1754, to Lucy Dudley and Michael Baldwin in North Guilford, Connecticut, the second son of twelve children. Michael, his father, a blacksmith, borrowed the money to send him to Yale College.
Baldwin studied theology at Yale, preparing for a career in the ministry until the dawn of the American Revolution, when he became a brigade cChaplain under Brigadier General Samuel H. Parsons.
During 1778 Parson's brigade, "The Connecticut Line," received special training under Washington's famed inspector general, Frederick von Steuben. As such, they were considered the equals of Britain's famous Redcoats.
Baldwin's brigade operated along the Hudson River near West Point and southeastern New York, as well as in Connecticut and northern New Jersey securing communication between Massachusetts, New York, and Washington.
After the war ended, he was convinced buy General Nathaniel Green to move to Georgia. After the citizens of Wilkes County elected him as one of their representatives to the state legislature, he began a career in Georgia politics that spanned decades.
Eventually, Baldwin was given a special challenge by Georgia Gov. Lyman Hall. Hall wanted Baldwin to establish an educational plan for both secondary and higher education in the state. The Georgia Ggovernor and his council awarded him 200 acres of land in Wilkes County as a trustee of the future state college.
Once elected to the Georgia state legislature, Baldwin unveiled his comprehensive educational plan. The keystone of this plan was the giving of land grants by the state to establish Franklin College (later the University of Georgia) in Athens.
It was named after Benjamin Franklin, who served as Georgia's Ambassador to the European powers. The legislature approved its charter in 1785, making it the first state-chartered school in the nation, with Baldwin serving as its first president (1786 to 1801).
Elected to the Confederation Congress, in 1878 Baldwin was one of four Georgia delegates to the constitutional convention of 1787 (with William Few Jr., William Houston, and William Pierce). Baldwin and Few were the only two who signed the constitution.
In fact, Baldwin's changing his vote on small-state legislation established representation in each house of Congress: equal representation in the Senate; apportioned representation in the House of Representatives.
Baldwin served five consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (1789-99) and two consecutive terms in the U.S. Senate (1799-1807), one of these as President Pro-Tem.
On March 4, 1807, at age 53, Baldwin died while serving as a U.S. senator from Georgia. His remains are interred at Rock Creek Cemetery.
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton/Baldwin County in middle Georgia was named in his honor. Baldwin was honored by the United States Postal Service with a 7¢ Great Americans series postage stamp in 1985 on the bicentennial of the founding of the college.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at Bulloch County's historical past. E-mail Roger at roger email@example.com