Description

    Superb letter between two of the three commissioners assigned the task of adjusting all accounts between the United States and the individual states

    Rare Abraham Baldwin Autograph Letter Signed "Abr Baldwin," two pages, 8" x 12.5", front and verso. New Haven, October 14, 1788. Integral leaf addressed by Baldwin to "The Honble General Irvine/in Congress/New York," torn at seal in blank area. Rare single line "New Haven Oct:15" and "Free" postal markings.

    From the Journals of the Continental Congress, September 4, 1788: "Whereas by an Ordinance entitled 'An Ordinance for Settling the Accounts between the U. S. and individual States,' passed the Seventh day of May 1787, it is ordained that a board consisting of three commissioners be appointed by the U.S. in Congress Assembled, whose duty it shall be to receive from the comptroller of the treasury, and from the Commissioner of Army Accounts all the Accounts and claims of the several States deposited in their respective offices, and to examine such of the said Accounts as shall have been passed by the Commissioners of the several districts, in order that the same may be finally adjusted on uniform and equitable principles." On September 9, 1788, the Congress elected William Irvine of Pennsylvania and John Taylor Gilman of New Hampshire as board members; on September 13th, Abraham Baldwin of Georgia was elected. Congress resolved on October 10th that the deliberations of the board required the presence of all three commissioners. On October 12th, Irvine, writing from New York City, sent the resolution to Baldwin in New Haven, Connecticut, telling him that the "inclosed Act will inform you how the business now stands...I think if you were here we might fix matters with the Board in such a manner as you need not wait in Georgia for a formal notification. Mr. Gilman & myself can get notice & be on the spot in two weeks, but months may be spent at your distance [Baldwin, staying at a relative's home in Connecticut, lived in Georgia] & uncertain transportation in the winter season. I think there will not be a Congress this year and I have no longer any business here but to make some arrangement in this affair; under these circumstances I need scarcely tell you that it will be with a degree of impatience I shall wait your arrival."

    On October 14, 1788, Baldwin replied to Irvine in the letter here offered. In full, "I have just received your favour of the 12th with the inclosed resolution of the 10th. Whatever may have been the intention. I think it is in our power to prevent any interruption of the ordnance. Be assured nothing shall be wanting on my part. I have been confined for several days with a turn of the quinzy in consequence of a journey in an open stage in one of the late cold rains. It is getting better, but should I venture out now my Doctor tells me I should be in much danger of occasioning a relapse. If it should appear so necessary for us to see each other, that you cannot leave New York till I arrive, let me know by the next post, and I think I shall be able to be there in a few days. However if you can bring the board of treasury to fix upon any time for me to be at New York, I will comply with it without waiting for a formal notification. They will surely be able, before I set out, to tell me pretty near the time when matters will be in readiness for our attendance. All the information they have, I doubt not, they will give you as readily as if we were together, and will do all in their power to reduce the time of our attendance to a certainty and I will consider it as equally binding upon myself as though I were present. I do not expect my stay in Georgia will be long, and should suppose they might let me know so nearly the time before I set out that it would not be necessary for me to wait till they had formally notified the day by letter. I am sorry it is not in my power to go down in this stage. I shall expect a line by return of the post." On watermarked laid paper.

    Three months later, on January 19, 1789, Baldwin, Gilman, and Irvine took their oaths of office and allegiance, preliminary to beginning their duties. On April 30, 1789, the day of the inauguration of George Washington as first President of the United States, Abraham Baldwin, having been elected a member of the 1st Congress, wrote to the new President: "An appointment from the State of Georgia as one of their representatives in congress lays me under the necessity of resigning my seat at the general board of commissioners for finally adjusting all accounts between the United States and the individual States. With the greatest possible respect I have the honour to be your most devoted humble Servant."

    Born in Connecticut, Abraham Baldwin was 18 when he was graduated from Yale in 1772. He moved to Georgia in 1784 and represented his new state in the Continental Congress in 1785, 1787 (signed the Constitution), and 1788 and in the House of Representatives (1789-1799) and U.S. Senate (1799-1807). He was only 53 when he died on March 4, 1807, his first day as a member of the 10th Congress. Abraham Baldwin is extremely scarce in any form and is one of the rarest of the signers of the Constitution. This letter, with exceptionally fine content and significance, is in fine condition.


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