Graves of Signers To Be Decorated

Honor Planned for Abraham Baldwin, Also Gerry, Who Was Delegate

Two graves in the old Congressional Cemetery here--those of Abraham Baldwin, one of the 39 who signed the Constitution of the United States 150 years ago, and of Elbridge Gerry, one of the 1 other deputies to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia who did not sign that document--are to be decorated on September 17, anniversary of the signing. Similar services are to be held in the 13 original States represented at the convention. Fifty-two known graves are to be decorated.

The central ceremony is to be at the Mount Vernon tomb of George Washington, who was one of the signers from Virginia, while four other deputies from that State who did not sign will also be honored in local services at their respective graves. Representative Sol Bloom, director general of the Constitutional Sesquicentennial Commission, will personally direct the services at Washington's tomb, which will be broadcast over a coast-to-coast network.

Abraham Baldwin was a native of North Guilford, Conn., and graduated from Yale both as a lawyer and preacher. He was chaplain in the Revolutionary Army from 1777 to 1783; practiced law in Georgia, was author of the charter of the University of Georgia and president of that institution for many years. He was a member of the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, a member of the first four Congresses and twice elected president pro tempore of the United States Senate. He was first buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, but reinterred in the Congressional Cemetery.

Gerry Was Senator's Ancestor

Elbridge Gerry, great grandfather of Senator Peter Goelet Gerry of Rhode Island, was a native of Marblehead, Mass. He was a member of the Colonial House of Representatives and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. As a delegate to the Constitutional Convention he refused to sign the instrument, insisting it gave the President too much power, but subsequently gave it his support. He served in the first two Congresses, was sent to France on a diplomatic mission, was twice Governor of Massachusetts and Vice President during the administration of Madison. His grandson and great grandson also served in Congress.

Three graves in Maryland are to be decorated--those of Daniel Carroll in Forest Glen and James McHenry in Baltimore, both of whom signed the Constitution, and that of J.F. Mercer in West River, Anne Arundel County, who did not sign.

Virginia Graves to Be Decorated

The Virginia graves to be decorated, in addition to that of Washington, are: James Madison at Montpelier and John Blair, Williamsburg, both of whom signed, and the deputies who did not sign--George Wythe and James McClurgt, both in Richmond; Edmund Randolph, Millwood, and George Mason, Gunston Hall.

The other graves to be decorated are distributed as follows: Connecticut, 3; Delaware, 4; Georgia, 1; Massachusetts, 2; New Jersey, 3; New York 9; New Hampshire, 2; North Carolina, 2; Pennsylvania, 9; South Carolina, 4; Tennessee, 1.

Two graves apparently cannot be located, those of Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, a deputy of Maryland, who signed the Constitution, and of William Houstun, a deputy from Georgia, who did not sign. He died in Savannah in 1833.

Another delegate who attended the convention, but did not sign, was John Lansing of New York, and eminent jurist. Judge Lansing left early in the convention, considering that it was exceeding its powers. In 1829, while on a visit in New York City from his home in Albany, he disappeared, creating a mystery that never was solved.

In most instances the States where the deputies are buried will have charge of the ceremonies. The services will be attended by representatives of State and local governments, officials of patriotic and fraternal societies and of similar local groups.

Published by: The Evening Star

Publishing date: September 10, 1937


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