TIFTON—During his lifetime, Abraham Baldwin never set foot on the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College campus. But the ABAC namesake will always have a natural tie to the nationwide Constitution Day on Sept. 17 because Baldwin was one of only two Georgia signers of the United States Constitution 235 years ago on Sept. 17, 1787, in Philadelphia.
When the 39 men signed the Constitution, they set the stage for a quality of life in America that still exists today. The Constitution is the oldest and shortest national constitution in existence. William Few was the only other Georgia signer of the 4,543-word document.
Baldwin was born on Nov. 22, 1754 in Guilford, Conn., as the son of a blacksmith. He enrolled at Yale College at the age of 14 and completed his degree in 1772. He studied theology and served on George Washington’s staff as a chaplain during the Revolutionary War.
When the Revolutionary War was over, Baldwin began a study of law. After being admitted to the bar, he moved to Georgia in 1783 to set up a law practice near Augusta.
Georgia Governor Lyman Hall then asked him to develop an educational plan for Georgia on both the secondary and post-secondary level. One year later, Baldwin was elected to the Georgia House of Assembly and in 1787 he represented Georgia as a member of the Constitutional Convention.
Baldwin later became the first president of the University of Georgia. He also served in the United States House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate. A colorful panel depicting his career is a key part of the ABAC history exhibit in the Tift Hall administration building.
Over 3,600 students are taking classes at ABAC this semester from 26 countries and 16 states. ABAC attracts students from 155 of Georgia’s 159 counties and from 58 of Florida’s 67 counties.