Abraham Baldwin (November 23, 1754 – March 4, 1807), a Democratic Republican was born in Guildford, Connecticut and was one of twelve children by his father, a blacksmith, who married twice. Mr. Baldwin’s father took on substantial debt to ensure that his children received a proper education. Proof positive of that was Baldwin’s half brother Henry who achieved a position as an Associate Justice for the United States Supreme Court.
Abraham Baldwin attended a local school in his birth town of Guilford, Connecticut and then went on to graduate from Yale University in 1772. Abraham remained at Yale until 1779 as a tutor and then served in the Revolutionary Army as a chaplain. At the end of the war, he did not resume his duties at the college, but instead studied law, and received admission to the Fairfield bar in 1783. 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.
One of Abraham Baldwin’s strongest beliefs was that education was the key behind the development of the American frontier, including states like Georgia. Mr. Baldwin turned down a highly sought after teaching position as professor of divinity at Yale; however the governor at the time, Lyman Hall, induced him to undertake on the heavy responsibility of developing an educational plan for secondary and post-secondary education in Georgia.
Upon his election to the Georgia House of Representatives, Abraham Baldwin introduced an educational plan that included land grants from the State of Georgia to fund a new University – the University of Georgia, in Athens, GA. Under his guidance and direction, UGA was to become the very first state-chartered educational institution when it was incorporated on January 27, 1785. UGA was a State university which was run on State funds, assuring that youth had the option to attend higher education if they wanted to but could not afford to. UGA was designed to be quite similar to Yale, where Mr. Baldwin attended University.
Abraham Baldwin moved to Georgia where he received the necessary approval through the legislature to practice law. He then applied for a land grant in Wilkes County. Later in his political career, Abraham Baldwin sat in the assembly as well as the Continental Congress. His work in the formulation of the Articles of Confederation was invaluable.
Mr. Baldwin continued to remain involved in politics during the years that he was President at the University of Georgia. He served five terms consecutively starting in 1789, in the US House of Representatives, as well as two terms also consecutive, from 1799 to 1807 in the U.S. Senate.
When Mr. Baldwin’s father passed away in 1791, he took custody of six of his half-siblings and not only fed and housed them, but ensured they all received an education at his own expense. He never married, and passed away on March 4, 1807 while serving as a US Senator. He is buried in the Rock Creek Cemetery located in Washington, D.C.