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Abraham Baldwin papers

Abraham Baldwin papers

Descriptive Summary

Title: Abraham Baldwin papers
Creator: Baldwin, Abraham, 1754-1807
Inclusive Dates: 1770-1808
Language(s): English
Extent: 0.5 Linear Feet (1 box)
Collection Number: UA97-092
Repository: University of Georgia Archives

Collection Description

Biographical/historical note

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.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of correspondence, remarks about and copies of legislation, financial documents, and writings by Abraham Baldwin.

Organization and Arrangement

Organized into four series: Addresses, correspondence, invitations and notices; legislative documents; fiscal documents; and miscellaneous documents.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

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.

Preferred Citation

Abraham Baldwin papers, UA97-092, University Archives, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.

General Notes

RG 1

Related Materials and Subjects

Subject Terms

Account books.
Adams, John, 1735-1826 -- Correspondence
Baldwin, Abraham, 1754-1807 -- Diaries
Budget -- United States.
Debts, Public -- Georgia.
Debts, Public -- United States.
Few, William, 1748-1828 -- Correspondence
Financial records.
Findley, William, 1741 or 2-1821 -- Correspondence
Georgia -- Maps.
Georgia -- Politics and government -- 1775-1865.
Hull, William, 1753-1825 -- Correspondence
Jackson, James, 1757-1806 -- Correspondence
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826 -- Correspondence
Legislation -- Georgia.
Legislation -- United States.
Legislative records.
Literature -- Georgia -- History and criticism.
Mansfield, Jared, 1759-1830 -- Correspondence
Maps (documents)
Maritime law -- United States.
Natural law.
Pickering, Timothy, 1745-1829 -- Correspondence
Revolutionary literature, American.
Saint Louis (Mo.) -- Description and travel.
State universities and colleges -- Law and legislation -- Georgia.
Tariff -- United States.
Taxation -- United States.
United States -- Foreign relations -- 1783-1815.
United States -- Foreign relations -- Treaties.
United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Claims.
United States -- Militia.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1783-1809.
United States. (Title of a work--Constitution.; )
University of Georgia
Yazoo Fraud, 1795.

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing


1. Addresses, correspondence, invitations and notices

These 43 items are arranged alphabetically first by type, and within the correspondence, by author. In the case of multiple same-party correspondence, the items are arranged chronologically. Of particular interest is correspondence with/from John Adams, Peter and Obadiah Crawford, William Few, William Findley, John Habersham, William Hull, James Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Lyman, Jared Mansfield, and Timothy Pickering. Two letters from S. Hammond to Baldwin regarding life in St. Louis in 1806 are insightful into frontier conditions, and there are likewise two letters (Patterson to Logan) which discuss a query by Baldwin as to the nature of the pendulum. Finally, there is an undated fragment of a letter warning of excessive ambition in General Washington's aide-de-camp.
11Address of Founding of University of Georgia [with transcription and scan], 1785 February 25
12Corres. John Adams to Wilkes Co. Grand Jury (copy), 1798 December 24
13Corres. John Adams to U.S. Senate (copy), 1799 December 31
14Corres. A. Baldwin to U.S. President, 1799 December 27
15Corres. A. Baldwin to Mordecai Sheftall, 1797 January 31
16Corres. A. Baldwin to (?) concerning Georgia, 1800 December 4
17Corres. A. Baldwin to Commissioners on Ga. Boundary, 1800 January 30
18Corres. Peter Crawford to Baldwin, 1804 December 2
19Corres. Peter Crawford to General Dearborn (War Dept.), 1804 December 2
110Corres. Peter Crawford to Baldwin, 1806 December 7
111Corres. Obadiah Crawford to Baldwin, 1805 September 26
112Corres. John Donnelly to Baldwin (Virginia land bounty), 1804 October 29
113Corres. William Few to Baldwin (University Treasurer), 1799 December 21
114Corres. William Findley, 1808 May 22
115Corres. James Gunn to Baldwin (Ga lands for sale), 1796 March 9
116Corres. John Habersham to Baldwin, 1802 March 15
117Corres. S. Hammond to Baldwin (life in St. Louis), 1806 January 29
118Corres. S. Hammond to Baldwin (life in St. Louis) [transcribed], 1806 December 13
119Corres. William Hull to Baldwin (Georgia Land Purchases), 1800 March 11
120Invitation to Confederational Congress (in Latin), 1781 November 4
121Corres. James Jackson to Baldwin (Univ. Senatus Academicus), 1800 November 26
122Corres. James Jackson to Baldwin, 1800 December 5
123Corres. James Jackson to Baldwin (Senatus Academicus), 1800 December 10
124Corres. James Jackson to Baldwin (land cessesion cover letter), 1800 December 10
125Corres. James Jackson to "Gentleman" (legislative cover), 1800 December 10
126Corres. James Jackson to Baldwin (University Act), 1801 January 13
127Corres. Thomas Jefferson to Baldwin (copy) Indian negotiations (copy), 1801 July 13
128Corres. Samuel Lyman to Baldwin (Sedgewick scandal), 1794 January 2
129Corres. Jared Mansfield to Baldwin (western expansion), 1806 January 1
130Corres. Jared Mansfield to Baldwin (western expansion), 1806 December 6
131Corres. Jared Mansfield to Baldwin (Cincinnati/western lands), 1807 January 10
132Corres. James McNeil to Baldwin (land commission), 1800 December 5
133Corres. R. Patterson to George Logan (AB pendulum query), 1805 January 12
134Corres. R. Patterson to George Logan (AB pendulum query), 1805 January 13
135Corres. Timothy Pickering to Baldwin (terr. claims commission), 1799 December 30
136Corres. Timothy Pickering to Baldwin (commission meeting), 1800 February 27
137Corres. Fragment (AB?) regarding U.S. Frontier interests
138Corres. to Paterson (sic) regarding outfitting boy's academy
139Corres. Aquila Scott to William Few (power of attorney), 1799 April 11
140Corres. James Sullivan to Baldwin (Georgia land purchase), 1800 March 11
141Notice of meeting, Commissioners of Georgia, 1800 March 11
142Corres. unknown author (Augusta) re Pickering's French post, 1799 February 28
143Corres. extract of a letter warning of ambition in Washington's aide-de-camp [Alexander Hamilton mentioned], circa 1790s

2. Legislative documents

Thirty-one documents comprise this series, which is generally ordered chronologically, with non-dated documents following those with actual or assigned dates. These papers compass a broad range of legislative issues, including foreign policy initiatives, land disputes, state and federal legislative processes and statutes, Revolutionary War service claims, acts pertaining to the State University, proposals for a national militia and national academy, treaties, navigation law, and duties and taxation. There is also a Report on the State of the Republic, dated 1806.
144Legislation: an act opening the Land Office, 1783 February 17
145Legislation: ratification of Articles, Georgia Constitution, 1789 May 6
146Legislative: Congressional testimony on Yazoo Act, 1796 January 22
147Legislation: an act for Land Appropriation, 1796 February 13
148Legislative: journal of Georgia State Land Commissioners, 1799 December 3
149Legislation: resolution against war with the French Republic, 1799
150Legislative: remarks on dispute with England, 1790s
151Legislative: remarks by AB pertaining to Foreign Ministers, 1798 February
152Legislative: remarks by AB on Congress' Rules and Practices, 1790s
153Legislative: remarks by AB on Public Debt, 1790s
154Legislative: propositions for Land Claims, 1800 March 12
155Legislative: remarks by AB on U.S. Propositions, 1800 March 13
156Legislative: appointment of Georgia Electors, 1800 November 18
157Legislative: address and remonstrance to U.S. Congress [by Georgia General Assembly] (2 copies), 1800 December 2
158Legislative: act enlarging powers of Georgia Commisioner's (2 copies), 1800 December 2
159Legislation: letters of transfer of Gen. Assembly action (2 copies), 1800 December 2
160Legislation: an act Locating the State University (GA) (2 copies), 1800 December 5
161Legislative: report of Senate Committee on French Spoliations, 1802 April
162Legislative: deposition of Revolutionary War Service (Donnelly), 1804 October 22
163Legislative: petition regarding the collection of import duties, 1804
164Legislative: report on the State of the Republic [Legislature of Georgia], 1806 January 3
165Legislation: A bill for classing the Militia, 1806 February 20
166Legislative: A bill to incorporate a national academy, 1806 March 4
167Legislative: An act to establish uniform weights and measures [considered by 2nd Congress], circa 1791-1793
168Legislative: remarks by AB on Navigation Laws, circa 1794
169Legislative: AB's notes on debate of the Treaty with England [per House debate of Jay Treaty?], circa 1794
170Legislative: Committee resolution on import duties and taxes
171Legislative: chart on "suability", Chisholm v. Georgia
172Legislative: muliple fragments (6) of legislation cover letters, 1783-1796
173Legislative: abstract (AB), Act of Assumption [1st Congress?], circa 1790
174Legislative: remarks by AB on Federal Manuvres (sic), 1800 December

3. Fiscal documents

These five documents touch on both Georgia and Federal debt analysis, land purchase, and federal budget analysis.
175Analysis of U.S. Debt, 1787
176Analysis of State of Georgia Debt (John Meals), 1790 April 30
177Analysis of debt to State of Georgia (Edward Telfair), 1790 June 7
178Land Purchase documents (William Longstreet), 1800 April 5
179Notes pertaining to federal budget analysis, 1792-1805

4. Miscellaneous documents

The final nine documents are widely divergent, including Baldwin Journal entries, his book of accounts for the years 1800-1806, Baldwin essays on the right of revolt against England, natural law, and the nature of the federal constitution. There are also his Observations on the Literature of Georgia, extracts from Joel Barlow's Commonplace Book, and a hand-drawn map of Georgia which appears to date from the last decade of the 18th Century, though it is undated.
180AB journal entries pertaining to Indian customs, 1770s
181AB journal with entries from Barlow's Commonplace Book, 1770s
182Attestation of W. Warner to [French and Indian] war service [circa 1758] of J. Donnelly, 1800 December 29
183AB book of accounts, 1800-1806
184Essay fragment on right to revolt against England, post 1798 February
185AB's observation on the literature of Georgia
186AB Essay on Natural Law, 1770s
187AB map of Georgia
188AB essay on the nature of the federal constitution
189Thomas Jefferson to Baldwin on Indian Negotiations [framed photocopy; see also folder 27], 1801 July 13