Abraham Baldwin (November 22, 1754 – March 4, 1807) was an American minister, patriot, politician, and Founding Father who signed the United States Constitution. Born and raised in Connecticut, he was a 1772 graduate of Yale College. After the Revolutionary War, Baldwin became a lawyer. He moved to the U.S. state of Georgia in the mid-1780s and founded the University of Georgia. Baldwin was a member of Society of the Cincinnati.[1][2][3]

Abraham Baldwin
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
December 8, 1801 – December 13, 1802
Preceded byJames Hillhouse
Succeeded byStephen R. Bradley
United States Senator
from Georgia
In office
March 4, 1799 – March 4, 1807
Preceded byJosiah Tattnall (politician)
Succeeded byGeorge Jones
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1793 – March 3, 1799
Preceded bydistrict created
Succeeded byJames Jones
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1789 – March 3, 1793
Preceded bydistrict created
Succeeded byConverted to at-large districts
President of the University of Georgia
In office
Preceded byNone; post established
Succeeded byJosiah Meigs
Delegate from Georgia to the Congress of the Confederation
In office
1785 – 85, 1787–88
Personal details
BornNovember 22, 1754
Guilford, Connecticut Colony, British America
DiedMarch 4, 1807(1807-03-04) (aged 52)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Resting placeRock Creek Cemetery
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Alma materYale College

Baldwin served as a United States Senator from Georgia from 1799 to 1807. During his tenure, he served as President pro tempore of the United States Senate from 1801 to 1802.

Early life, education and career


Abraham Baldwin was born in 1754 in Guilford in the Connecticut Colony into a large family, the son of Lucy (Dudley) and Michael Baldwin, a blacksmith, and descended from Elder John Strong.[4] His half-brother, Henry Baldwin, was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. After attending Guilford Grammar School, Abraham Baldwin attended Yale College in nearby New Haven, Connecticut, where he was a member of the Linonian Society. He graduated in 1772.[5]

Three years later after theological study, he was licensed as a Congregationalist minister. He also served as a tutor at the college. He held that position until 1779. During the American Revolutionary War, he served as a chaplain in the Connecticut Contingent of the Continental Army. He did not see combat while with the Continental troops.[6] Two years later at the conclusion of the war, Baldwin declined an offer from Yale's new president, Ezra Stiles, to become Professor of Divinity. Instead, he turned to the study of law and in 1783 was admitted to the Connecticut bar.[5]

Move to Georgia


Encouraged by his former commanding officer General Nathanael Greene, who had acquired the plantation at Mulberry Grove where Eli Whitney would later invent the cotton gin, Baldwin moved to Georgia. He was recruited by fellow Yale alumnus Governor Lyman Hall, another transplanted New Englander, to develop a state education plan. Baldwin was named the first president of the University of Georgia and became active in politics to build support for the university, which had not yet enrolled its first student. He was appointed as a delegate to the Congress of the Confederation and then to the Constitutional Convention; in September 1787 he was one of the state’s two signatories to the U.S. Constitution.

Baldwin remained president of the University of Georgia during its initial development phase until 1800.[5] During this period, he also worked with the legislature on the college charter. In 1801, Franklin College, the University of Georgia's initial college, opened to students. Josiah Meigs was hired to succeed Baldwin as first acting president and oversee the inaugural class of students. The first buildings of the college were architecturally modeled on Baldwin's and Meigs's alma mater of Yale where they both had taught. (Later the university sports team adopted as its mascot the bulldog, also in tribute to Baldwin and Meigs, as it is the mascot of Yale.)


Baldwin's draft copy of the U.S. Constitution is held by the Georgia Historical Society. It is the second printed draft of the Constitution, printed by Dunlap and Claypoole on four folio leaves complete with Baldwin's signature and marginal notes. This second draft was produced by a Committee of Style and Arrangement, consisting of Alexander Hamilton, William Samuel Johnson, Rufus King, James Madison, and Gouverneur Morris. It is one of only a handful still in existence. View the Georgia Historical Society’s finding aid for this item.

Baldwin was elected to the Georgia Assembly, where he became very active, working to develop support for the college. He was able to mediate between the rougher frontiersmen, perhaps because of his childhood as the son of a blacksmith, and the aristocratic planter elite who dominated the coastal Lowcountry. He became one of the most prominent legislators, pushing significant measures such as the education bill[which?] through the sometimes split Georgia Assembly.[6][7]

He was elected as representative to the U.S. Congress in 1788. The Georgia legislature elected him as U.S. Senator in 1799[8] (this was the practice until popular election in 1913.) He served as President pro tempore of the United States Senate from December 1801 to December 1802. He was re-elected and served in office until his death.

Death and legacy


On March 4, 1807, at age 52, Baldwin died while serving as a U.S. senator from Georgia. Later that month the Savannah Republican and Savannah Evening Ledger reprinted an obituary that had first been published in a Washington, D.C., newspaper: "He originated the plan of The University of Georgia, drew up the charter, and with infinite labor and patience, in vanquishing all sorts of prejudices and removing every obstruction, he persuaded the assembly to adopt it."[9] His remains are interred at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC.[10]


  • White, Henry Clay (1926). Abraham Baldwin: One of the Founders of the Republic, and Father of the University of Georgia, the First of American State Universities. McGregor Company.

See also



  1. ^ Metcalf, Bryce. Original Members and Other Officers Eligible to the Society of the Cincinnati, 1783–1938: With the Institution, Rules of Admission, and Lists of the Officers of the General and State Societies (Strasburg, Va.: Shenandoah Publishing House, Inc., 1938), p. 41.
  2. ^ "Officers Represented in the Society of the Cincinnati". Archived from the original on April 13, 2021.
  3. ^ Aimone, Alan Conrad (2005). "New York State Society of the Cincinnati: Biographies of Original Members and Other Continental Officers (review)". The Journal of Military History. 69 (1): 231–232. doi:10.1353/jmh.2005.0002. ISSN 1543-7795. S2CID 162248285.
  4. ^ book The History of the Descendants of Elder John Strong, of Northampton, Mass pages 229,230,757&760. ISBN 0342958860.
  5. ^ a b c Marquis Who's Who, Inc. Who Was Who in American History, the Military. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1975. P. 25 ISBN 0837932017. OCLC 657162692.
  6. ^ a b Wright Jr., Robert K.; MacGregor Jr., Morris J. (1987). "Abraham Baldwin". Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution. Washington D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History. LCCN 87001353. OCLC 15549460. CMH Pub 71-25. Archived from the original on May 13, 2019. Retrieved June 8, 2010.
  7. ^ Rowe, H.J. (2000). History of Athens & Clarke County. Southern Historical Press.
  8. ^ Congressional Biography
  9. ^ "Abraham Baldwin (1754–1807)" Archived March 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, New Georgia Encyclopedia (January 6, 2009), Retrieved on July 21, 2013
  10. ^ "Brief Biography".
  11. ^ Sine, Richard L. (January 27, 1985). "Stamps; Great American Series". The New York Times. p. 33.
  12. ^ Krakow, Kenneth K. (1975). Georgia Place-Names: Their History and Origins. Macon, GA: Winship Press. p. 13. ISBN 0-915430-00-2.
  13. ^ Odd Wisconsin Archives Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Wisconsinhistory.org (March 29, 2006). Retrieved on July 21, 2013.
  14. ^ Coley Ingram, Tracy (September 26, 2011). "UGA unveils statue of Abraham Baldwin". The Tifton Gazette. Tifton, Georgia. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
New Seat
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 2nd congressional district

March 4, 1789 – March 4, 1793
Succeeded by
Converted to At-Large districts
Preceded by
Converted from district seats
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's at-large congressional district

March 4, 1793 – March 4, 1799
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. senator (Class 2) from Georgia
March 4, 1799 – March 4, 1807
Served alongside: James Gunn, James Jackson, John Milledge
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by President pro tempore of the United States Senate
December 7, 1801 – December 13, 1802
Succeeded by