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WILLIAMS, John

1752–1806

Biography

WILLIAMS, John, a Representative from New York; born in Barnstable, England, in September 1752; received a liberal education; studied medicine and surgery in St. Thomas Hospital, London; served for one year as surgeon's mate on an English man-of-war; immigrated to America in 1773 and settled in New Perth, Charlotte County (now Salem, Washington County), N.Y.; engaged in an extensive medical practice; member of the State Provincial Congress in 1775, to which body he was reelected and served until its dissolution in 1777; appointed surgeon of the State forces in 1775; colonel of the Charlotte County Regiment in 1776 and retained command throughout the Revolutionary War; served in the State senate in 1777 and 1778; member of the State assembly in 1781 and 1782; again a member of the State senate 1782-1785; appointed a member of the first board of regents of New York University in 1784; brigadier general of militia in 1786; delegate to the State ratification convention in 1788; member of the council of appointment in 1789; elected as a Federalist to the Fourth and Fifth Congresses (March 4, 1795-March 3, 1799); was a large landholder; a promoter and director of a company organized to build the Erie Canal as a private enterprise, the project later being taken over and completed by the State; judge of the county court; died in Salem, N.Y., July 22, 1806; interment in Salem Cemetery.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Cornell University
Carl A. Kroch Library

Ithaca, NY
Papers: Family papers (1785-ca. 1935) in Washington County, NY, papers, 1773-1959. ca. 8 feet.

New York State Library
Manuscripts and Special Collections

Albany, NY
Papers: 1767-1841, approximately 1500 items. The John Williams Collection consists of Correspondence, Legal Documents, and Financial Documents. In addition there are five much smaller series: Printed Material; Minutes, Proceedings, etc; Maps, Diagarams and Lists; Literary Productions; and Miscellany. The earliest documents date from 1767-68 and the latest from 1830, but the majority pertain to the 1780's and 1790s. The major subject areas of the collection are politics, militia, commercial activity, and land. However the range of subjects include in the collection, especially in the correspondence, demonstrates the wide interests and variety of activities of an educated Eighteenth Century man.
Papers: 1796, 2 pages. A letter from John Williams to the "Messrs. Webster", written on February 8, 1796. In the letter, Williams primarily discusses commercial matters. He especially discusses the comparative importance of the navy and army. "Our safety does not lay in a navy, therefore the expediency of a navigation act to create seamen would be ineligible... It is our business to invite all the world to come to import and buy our produce,... Every man in the United States taken from the plough and put on board a vessell is a man lost to the true interest in this country... Your letter respecting the post roads from Albany or Lansingburgh to be extended through Washington and Clinton counties to meet the Amil from Canada shall be attended to,..."

Washington County Historian's Department

Fort Edward, NY
Papers: ca. 1768-1851, 2 volumes. The John Williams Papers are mainly deeds concerning properties in Washington County, New York. Some properties were as far north as the Schroon River. John Williams was involved in most of these transactions. In addition to the deeds, there are also surveys, maps, and related correspondence for many of the deeds. Other Williams family members are involved in some of the transactions, including a second (and later) John Williams.
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