Athens, Ga. – Personal letters of Abraham Baldwin and William Few, Georgia’s two signers of the U.S. Constitution, are on exhibit at the University of Georgia Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library in observance of Constitution Day.
Few and Abraham Baldwin, who were close friends, were appointed as two of six state delegates to the Constitutional Convention, two of whom never attended and two others of whom did not stay for the duration.
This exhibition features original manuscripts and correspondence written by Few and Baldwin. The Hargrett Library owns more than 250 letters of William Few and his wife, Catherine, and their daughter Frances. These letters reveal much about his activities in the state of Georgia until he moved permanently to New York in about 1800. Baldwin, the first president of UGA, is mentioned frequently in Catherine Few’s letters. Baldwin’s papers are located in the UGA Archives within the Hargrett Library.
Baldwin was born in Connecticut in 1754. After graduating from Yale, he became a minister and tutor at the college and later served as a chaplain in the Continental Army. After the war, he studied law and moved to Georgia. He was elected to the state legislature and attended the Constitutional Convention. Once elected to the Georgia state legislature, Baldwin developed a comprehensive educational plan that ultimately included land grants from the state to fund the establishment of the University of Georgia (at the time also known as Franklin College) in Athens. Through Baldwin’s efforts, the state approved a charter for the University of Georgia in 1785. Baldwin served as the first president of the institution during its initial planning phase, from 1786 to 1801 when it was opened to students. Baldwin also served in the U.S. Senate. He died after a short illness in 1807.
Few left North Carolina in 1776 to join his parents in Georgia. When the War for Independence began, Few joined the Revolutionary forces, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. He also entered politics, being elected to the Georgia provincial congress of 1776 and the assembly in 1777 and 1779. In addition to serving in the Continental Congress (1780-1788) and the Georgia Assembly (1783); he was briefly Indian commissioner and surveyor general. In 1789, Few became one of Georgia’s first U.S. senators. He also served in the New York legislature; as inspector of prisons; and U.S commissioner of loans. From 1804 to 1814 he held a directorship at the Manhattan Bank and later was the president of City Bank. He died in 1828.
The Hargrett Library is part of the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries at 300 S. Hull St.