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The University of Georgia at Louisville, 1786

As Described in a Letter from Abraham Baldwin to Joel Barlow

A Transcription by Steven Scurry


Augusta June 12th 1786

Dear Sir,

   Your fellow to the old Rebs letter came safe with it, a good fellow it was to me, and you are both good fellows for thinking of talking with Praum when you might have talking with each other, and Ruthy is a good fellow too, for I believe she had some hand in making Reb write. Now I think of it, if she has any hand in keeping him from writing all this time, instead of miniature she shall have me before summer is out railing at he at whole length. You requested an immediate answer. I have been out of town for several weeks and did not return till yesterday when I found your letter here waiting for me. But I believe before this time you must have got every information on our old plan, you must have known from what I have written and told you that my friend Few who is now at New York was at the bottom of this business with me, and from our connextion could tell you all about it. I hope therefore that you was not longer in suspense than till you heard of his arrival.

   Since my return to this state, there has not been an object nearer my heart than to get matters in such a train as to make it worth your while to come here, but knowing that that same chapter of accidents always fills up a great part of the history of the world, I did not chose to disturb your mind with any thing on the subject till I could see some good degree of certainty.

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   Our last Assembly you know passed an ordinance for laying out a town in a healthy place as nearly central to the state as might be, which should be the seat of government and appointed Commissioners to erect state house, government-house offices &c and that it should be the seat of the University. Our present settlements are on three Atlantic rivers, nearly parallel, viz Savannah, Ogeechee, and Alatamaha, they had agreed on a place about 50 miles west of this town a healthy delightful situation on Ogeechee. The Senate of the University had a good meeting, warmed up each others minds, and were fully determined to push forward in their part of the business, they appointed Praum President and gave him with two others powers sufficient to put matters in train on their part. Fortunately one of the new counties wanted a town to be laid out for their county town and court house, and pitched upon one of our College surveys, good men they know not whence it came but they were directed, they applied to the house of assembly they gave there consent and referred them to our board agreeable to charter. We laid out a town ordered a sale of the lots and a thousand acres adjacent, and that the remainder of that 4000 acre tract should be leased and also the 5000 tracts which was about ten miles distant.

   Immediately after court was over I went out to the intended seat of Government Louisville by name at your service, contracted for a tract of 300 acres adjoining the town chose the spot for the University, and such a delightful situation for a garden of 50 to 100 acres I never saw, there I have been and there I expected to

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   have passed the summer, but I have been obliged to retreat. I had been there planning and pleasing myself with the prospect of what a few months and a few years would accomplish there till I had begun to consider it my home, where I should soon be located, when our first news was, that the Creek nation were preparing for war and that we might soon expect them down. The circumstances of the report and my own unwillingness to believe it really prevented my giving it credit, till a party of them had come to the Atalamaha and had killed a man but about 30 miles beyond where I was; I could not even then consider it as any thing more than a hunting party till I found the attack was in three places at the same time 100 miles distant from each other on that river, they killed six in the whole, but it was sufficient to alarm the whole of the new counties; and in a few days I found the house where I was, the frontier, there was not family beyond us, I did not think it to the purpose to stay long in that situation. We have since got guards and block houses along the Alatamaha, the matter yet remains unexplained, we have sent the agent to the nation, but I expect it to turn out a serious Indian war. The Creeks are a strong warlike nation, and I am not without my fears that our neighbors the Dons, disgusted as they are with our Missisippi act, have been edging it on. We say as little on the subject as possible, that it may not prevent the emigrations to this state, which from its great increase promised soon to make us as respectable for numbers as our neighbours. It is already checked and I fear will be totally prevented, of all events the worst for us. I could have wished this matter to have waited a few years for us, we should then have wanted their land, we are amply strong enough at present for the Creeks at present, if the Choctaws

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   should not join them. Last week a party of volunteers in Wilkes county formed and have marched out to the frontier, a hardy sett of fellows under Colo Clarke an old warrior, they suffered so much in the settlement of the country, that they retain the most violent resentments against the Indians, and I expect to hear that instead of being on the frontier, they are gone to destroy some towns in the nation, if so a war will be inevitable. Thus stand affairs precisely at present, I had been pleasing myself with having our University on its legs this summer, there are several in the academies already fit to transplant, and that we should have had you here next winter; this appeared to me very possible, and it should not have failed for want of my exertions, but it is gone. If the Commissioners had proceeded with proper dispatch they might have got the state house agoing before the alarm, which would at any rate have been casting the sheet anchor, the lower counties whenever the matter is taken up again will make another struggle to get it all on the seaboard, and I am not without my fears that our Louisville like Utopia will exist only in name. The result of what I have told you is, that we shall push our red brethren further out, and I think our [bonne Fr.? bonneted ?] friends may come in for a cut when the war is over, but you must come and help us fight for it. How could you ask me about Missisippi, and not tell me a word what Mr. Gardoqui and Mr. Jay are doing, when you know I have not heard a word since I left them? As it is the pivot in that business you deserve to be trounced for not knowing and telling me something about it.

   You shall have my miniature, wify, if I can get it, but there is nobody here can take it, without making it look more like the Devil than the original. However as it is a particular favor, I don’t know but I can find out the art of making little Praums in miniature myself here as much to the life as they can at the northward, be assured it will give me great pleasure, especially, as it will be obliging my only sister--

God bless you eternally



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