Constitution Day Ceremony at ABAC on September 21


TIFTON–Elizabeth Matherne, lead attorney with the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI), will speak at the annual Constitution Day ceremony at 2 p.m. on Sept. 21 in the Chapel of All Faiths on the campus of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

The SIFI team provides free services to immigrant detainees at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) which is controlled by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. ICDC is the second largest facility of this type in Georgia.

Matherne will be joined by team attorney Erin Argueta and program director Lisa Walters for a question and answer session. Their work falls in line with the United States Constitution as it centers around the right to due process for all people on American soil, as addressed in the Fourth Amendment and the 14th Amendment.

ABAC has a natural tie to the annual Constitution Day because Abraham Baldwin, the namesake for the institution, was one of only two Georgia signers for the historic document 231 years ago on Sept. 17, 1787 in Philadelphia.

When the 39 men signed the Constitution, they set the stage for a quality of life in America that still exists today. The Constitution is the oldest and shortest national constitution in existence.  William Few was the only other Georgia signer of the 4,543-word document.

Baldwin was born on Nov. 22, 1754 in Guilford, Conn., as the son of a blacksmith. He enrolled at Yale College

Elizabeth Matherne. Photo courtesy of

at the age of 14 and completed his degree in 1772.  He studied theology and stayed at Yale as a tutor until 1779.  He served on George Washington’s staff as a chaplain during the Revolutionary War.

When the Revolutionary War was over, Baldwin began a study of law. After being admitted to the bar, he

moved to Georgia in 1783 to set up a law practice near Augusta.  Georgia Governor Lyman Hall then asked him to develop an educational plan for Georgia on both the secondary and post-secondary level. One year later, Baldwin was elected to the Georgia House of Assembly and in 1787 he represented Georgia as a member of the Constitutional Convention.

Baldwin later became the first president of the University of Georgia.  A colorful panel depicting his career is a key part of the ABAC history exhibit in the Tift Hall administration building.

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