Athens, Ga. – An exhibition featuring original manuscripts and correspondence written by William Few and Abraham Baldwin, close personal friends who were Georgia’s two signers of the U.S. Constitution, will be on display in the University of Georgia’s Hargrett Library in observance of Constitution Day, Sept. 17.
In May of 1787, 12 states sent delegates to Philadelphia to propose amendments to the Articles of Confederation under which the 13 original states had been operating. After much debate and compromise, the United States Constitution was completed on September 17, 1787.
Documents relating to the two men are part of the collections at the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, located in the Main Library, where the exhibition is on display through Sept. 28. The UGA Libraries recently added to those collections when it acquired more than 250 letters of Few, 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 about 1800” according to Mary Ellen Brooks, director of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library. “Abraham Baldwin, the first president of the University of Georgia, is mentioned frequently in Catherine Few’s letters.”
Baldwin’s papers are located in the University of Georgia Archives of the Hargrett Library.
Included in the exhibit are documents relating to life and the political climate in Georgia during that period, such as the Siege of Savannah, in which the casualties of our French allies were higher than that of the Americans; the scandal of the Yazoo Land Fraud; religion in Georgia camp meetings; and the establishment of the University of Georgia, also known as Franklin College. Among the highlights are a 1787 pamphlet edition of the federal Constitution with an inscription by Benjamin Franklin and an original patent granted to William Few in 1809 signed by President Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
The Hargrett Library is open Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Hargrett Library is closed on all home football game days.