-He is quoted as saying, “The cause of liberty is the cause of God.”
-One of our delegates from Connecticut.
-Lived from April 23rd, 1731 – August 2nd, 1811.
-William was born in Lebanon, Connecticut.
-He graduated from Harvard College.
-William followed in the footsteps of both his father and grandfather (who each served as pastors for over 50 years) and had served as a church deacon for 43 years at the time of his death.
-He served with his uncle, Colonel Ephraim Williams, during the French and Indian War. Author John Sanderson wrote,
“He returned [from the French and Indian War] dissatisfied and disgusted with the British commanders: their haughtiness and arbitrary conduct, and their inattention to the interests of America, made a powerful and lasting impression upon his mind. Even at that early period, he formed the opinion that the prosperity of his native country would never be secured under the administration of officers who had no common interests nor feelings with the people; and that to enable them to profit by the means within their reach, a government dependent on themselves was necessary.”
-He was a merchant for a short time before starting his political career.
-William was a member of the Sons of Liberty and also served on Connecticut’s Committee of Correspondence and Council of Safety.
-As Marilyn Boyer writes in For You They Signed,
“…he began his political career as a town clerk, in which he continued for 45 years. He also served as selectman for 20 years, a member of the Upper House for 23 years, and a judge for 35 years. It has been said that to hold all three offices one at a time he would have had to live to 170 years of age.”
-Williams was sent to the Continental Congress to take the place of Oliver Wolcott who had to leave due to sickness. Williams arrived too late to vote for independence, but signed the Declaration of Independence after the fact on August 2nd.
-Williams was colonel of the twelfth militia which contained over 1700 men.
-Again, Marilyn Boyer writes,
“He married Mary Trumbull, daughter of Connecticut’s first state governor, Jonathan Trumbull. They married on Valentine’s Day of 1771 and had three children. During the war, the couple opened their home to American soldiers and their French allies. William truly sacrificed his fortune for the cause of liberty: He purchased supplies repeatedly for the American forces with his own money, and went door-to-door throughout his district, raising funds and collecting blankets and lead for the American soldiers. He collected more than 300 blankets, and recovered a large quantity of lead by removing the lead weights from clocks.”
-It was his acknowledged aim to be an honest politician.
Some of his other public service included:
-Serving in the French and Indian War
-Serving as town clerk of Lebanon, Connecticut
-Serving as a member of the Connecticut legislature
-Serving as probate judge and county judge for Windham County, Connecticut
-Serving as delegate to the Congress of the Confederation
-Serving as member of the Connecticut state ratification convention for the United States Constitution
-Photo credit: Wikipedia public domain
– For You They Signed, Marilyn Boyer, 2009
–Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, John Sanderson, 1823
–The Signers: The 56 Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence, Dennis Brindell Fradin, 2002