Guest Essayist: Martha Zoller


Georgia, my home state, was admitted into the Union on January 2, 1788 and was fourth of the thirteen original states to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Georgia is known as “The Peach State” or “Empire State of the South.”

When James Oglethorpe claimed Georgia (named for King George III) in 1732, he then brought settlers to Savannah in 1733, who would have thought that less than 50 years later, there would be a war for independence from England. This was one of the challenges for Georgians. Many were not that far removed from life in England and many were not sure about this new initiative called the United States of America.

That didn’t stop Lyman Hall, Button Gwinnett and George Walton from signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776. These three men would find their names on three of the 159 counties in Georgia in the fastest growing part of Georgia some 240 years later.

Georgia’s legislature chose six representatives to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. Of those, George Walton and Nathaniel Pendleton never attended. The four who attended were William Few, Abraham Baldwin, William Pierce, and William Houstoun. William Pierce made notes on the other delegates that have become important historical documents. The two Georgia delegates who signed the finished Constitution on September 17 were Abraham Baldwin and William Few.

Neither of Georgia’s signers was a native Georgian. Abraham Baldwin had come to the state about three years before the Constitutional Convention. A native son of Connecticut with a theology degree from Yale served the Revolutionary cause as a chaplain in the Continental Army. After the war he studied law and moved to Augusta, Georgia, to practice his new profession. He was involved in government as a member of the Georgia legislature. As one of Georgia’s delegates to the convention, Baldwin cast a vote that resulted in a tie on the very controversial matter of representation in the upper house or Senate in the Congress, buying time for a compromise to be worked out. He considered this his most important contribution to the constitution. He later served in the Congress and was instrumental in founding the University of Georgia.

William Few came to Augusta as the revolutionary movement gained momentum in the mid 1770s and quickly became involved with the Patriot cause. He was a member of the committee that wrote the state constitution of 1777.

The ratification of the United States Constitution inspired Georgia to re-write their state constitution in 1789. The latest version of the Georgia Constitution was adopted in 1983 and has been amended hundreds of times through voter resolutions.

Martha Zoller is a policy advisor and has worked for Senator David Perdue and is now working for Governor Brian Kemp. Zoller spent 20 years in media. Martha is a wife, mother, Oma, lifelong Georgian, culture guru and lover of the Constitution. 

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