« AnteriorContinuar »
him the privilege of a candle, by which to read at night. Young Walton, however, was resolutely bent on the acquisition of knowledge, and contrived to collect, at his leisure inoments, pieces of light-wood, which served at night in place of a candle. His application was intense ; and his attainments were rapid and valuable.
At the expiration of his apprenticeship, he removed to the province of Georgia, and entering upon the study of the law, commenced, in 1774, the practice of that profes. sion. At this time the British government were in the exercise of full power in Georgia. Mr. Walton was one of the most zealous of the few advocates of the patriotic cause. He was a member of the committee which prepared a petition to the king; and in 1776, he was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress. In this station he continued to represent the State of Georgia, until October, 1781. He was extremely useful on many important comunittees, and always evinced much zeal and intelligence in the discharge of his duties.
In December, 1778, Mr. Walton received a Colonel's commission in the militia, and was present at the surrender of Savannah to the British arms. During the obstinate defence of that place, he was wounded in the thigh, in consequence of which, he fell from his horse, and was made a prisoner by the British troops. A brigadier general was demanded in exchange for him, but in September, 1779, he was exchanged for a captain in the navy. In the following month, he was chosen Governor of the State ; and in the succeeding January, was elected a member of Congress for two years.
The remainder of Mr. Walton's life was filled up in the discharge of the most respectable offices within the gift of the State. He was at six different times chosen a Representative to Congress; twice appointed Governor of the State ; once a Senator of the United States; and at four different periods a Judge of the Superior Courts. He was a man of no ordinary talents; and was conspicuous for his uniform devotion to liberty. He died on the 2d of February, 1804.
WILLIAM WHIPPLE. William WHIPPLE was born at Kittery, Maine, in the year 1730. His education was limited, and on leaving school, he entered on board a merchant vessel, and devot. ed himself for several years to commercial pursuits. His voyages were chiefly to the West Indies, and, proving successful, he acquired a considerable fortune.
In 1759, he relinquished his seafaring occupation, and commenced business at Portsmouth. He entered with spirit into the controversy between Great Britain and the colonies; and in 1775, represented the town of Portsmouth in the Provincial Congress, which met at Exeter. In 1776, he was appointed a delegate to the General Congress, of which body he continued a member until September, 1779.
In the year 1777, while Mr. Whipple was a member of Congress, the appointment of Brigadier General was bestowed upon him, and the celebrated John Stark, by the Assembly of New Hampshire. He was present at the desperate battle of Saratoga ; and his meritorious conduct on the occasion was rewarded, by his being ointly appointed, with Colonel Wilkinson, as the reprezentative of General Gates, to meet two officers from General Burgoyne, and settle he articles of capitulation. He was also selected as one of the officers, wno were appointed to conduct the surrendered army to ineir destined encampment, on Winter Hill, in the vicinity of Boston. -n 1778, General Whipple, with a detachment of New Hampshire militia, was engaged, under General Sullivan, in executing a plan for the re-taking of Rhode Island from the British.
During the remaining years of his life, Mr. Whipple filled many important offices. As a representative to the State Legislature, he was highly popular; and in 1782, he received the appointment of receiver of public moneys for New Hampshire, from Mr. Morris, the superintendent of finance. He relinquished the office in 1784, and continued in the station of Judge of the Superior Court of Judicature. The duties of the latter office he discharged until the 28th of November, 1785, when h: •xpired, in the fifty-fifth year of his age.
WILLIAM WILLIAMS. WILLIAM WILLIAMS was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, on the 8th of April, 1731. At the age of sixteen he entered Harvard College, and after the usual period was honorably graduated. For some time after his return home, he devoted himself to theological studies, under the direction of his father. In 1755, he belonged to the staff of Colonel Ephraim Williams, the founder of Williams College, in Massachusetts, and was present at the celebrated battle fought at the head of Lake George, between the provincial troops and the French Canadians. During the contest, Colonel Williams was shot through the head by an Indian, and killed.
Soon after this occurrence, William Williams returned to Lebanon; and in 1756, was chosen clerk of the town, an office which he continued to hold for the space of forty-five years. About the same time, he was appointed a representative to the General Assembly of Connecticut. In this latter capacity he served for many years, during which he was often appointed clerk of the House, and not unfrequently filled the speaker's chair. In 1780, he was transferred to the Upper House, being elected an As-' sistant; an office which he held for twenty-four years.
Mr. Williams was a member of the Continental Congress during the years 1776 and 1777; and took an honorable part in the deliberations of that body. During his campaign at the north, he had been disgusted with the British commanders, on account of the haughtiness of their conduct, and the little attachment which they manifested for his native country. The impression was powerful and enduring; and led him to form a sincere and devoted wish for the independence of America.
The following anecdote has been related as a proof of the patriotic spirit of Mr. Williams. Towards the close of the year 1776, the military affairs of the colonies wore a gloomy aspect. In this doubtful state of things, the Council of Safety for Connecticut was called to sit at Lebanon. Two of the members of this council, William Hillhouse and Benjamin Huntington, quartered with Mr. Williams. One evening, the conversation turned upon
the gloomy state of the country, and the probability that, after all, success would crown the British arms. · Well,” said Mr. Williams, with great calmness, “ if they succeed, it is pretty evident what will be my fate. I have done much to prosecute the contest, and one thing I have done which the British will never pardon—I have signed the Declaration of Independence. I shall be hung." Mr. Hillhouse expressed a confident hope, that America would yet be successful. Mr. Huntington observed, that, in case of ill success, he should be exempt from the gallows, as his signature was not attached to the Declaration, nor had he written anything against the British government. To this Mr. Williams replied, his eye kindling as he spoke, " Then, Sir, you deserve to be hanged, for not having done your duty.”
Mr. Williams died on the 2d day of August, 1811, in the eighty-first year of his age.
JAMES WILSON. JAMES Wilson was born in Scotland, about the year 1747. He received an excellent education ; studying successively at Glasgow, St. Andrews, and Edinburgh and enjoying the instruction of the distinguished Dr. Blair, and the not less celebrated Dr. Watts.
After completing his studies, he embarked for America and arrived at Philadelphia early in the year 1766. Here he served some time in the capacity of tutor in the Coliege of the city, and acquired the reputation of being a fine classical scholar. He shortly after entered the law office of Mr. John Dickinson, and at the expiration of two years, commenced practice, first at Reading and Carlisle, then at Annapolis, and finally ac Philadelphia, where he continued to reside during the remainder of his life. At an early period, Mr. Wilson espoused the cause of the colonies. He was an American in principle from the time that he landed on the American shore. He became a member of the Provincial Convention of Pennsylvania, and in 1775 was unanimously elected a delegate to Congress. His standing, during the whole course of his attendance on this body, was deservedly high. He evinced great abilitv and fidelity in the discharge of his numerous duties, and voted in favor of independence, in opposition to a majority of his colleagues.
The high estimation in which Mr. Wilson was held, may be learned from his receiving the appointment of Advocate General for the French government, in the United States He continued to hold this office, which was both arduous and delicate, for several years, at the close of which, the king of France handsomely rewarded him by a gift of ten thousand livres. About the year 1782, Mr. Wilson was appointed a Counsellor and Agent for Pennsylvania, in the great controversy between that State and the State of Connecticut, relating to certain lands within the charter boundary of Pennsylvania. He discovered much legal knowledge and tact in the management of this business; and the question was finally settled in favor of Pennsylvania.
He was a member of the celebrated Convention of 1787, which assembled in Philadelphia, for the purpose of forming the Constitution of the United States. During the long deliberations on this instrument, he rendered the most important services. He was on the committee which reported the draught of the Constitution, and did much to settle, upon just principles, the great and important points which naturally arose in the formation of a new government.
When the State Convention of Pennsylvania assembled to ratify the Federal Constitution, Mr. Wilson was returned a member of that body; and as he was the only one who had assisted in forming that instrument, it devolved upon him to explain to the Convention the principles upon which it was founded, and the great objects which it had in view.
In 1789, Mr. Wilson was appointed, by Washington, a Judge of the Supreme Court, under the Federal Constitution. In this office he continued until his death, which occurred on the 28th of August, 1798, at Edenton, in North Carolina, while on a circuit attending to his judicial duties. Mr. Wilson was twice married; the first time to a daughter of William Bird, of Berks county, and the second time to a daughter of Mr. Ellis Gray, of Boston.