William Houstoun was a native of Savannah, Georgia, where he was born about 1755. He was a son of Sir Patrick Houstoun, Baronet, and a brother of Governor John Houstoun. He was educated for the law in Great Britain and was admitted in 1776 to the Inner Temple, London. At the commencement of the Revolution he returned home and took an active part in the cause of liberty.
He was twice elected to the Continental Congress and served in that body from 1784-1787. In 1785 he served as a commissioner in the dispute between South Carolina and Georgia over their boundary line. In 1787 he was deputized by Georgia to attend the Convention to revise the Federal Constitution, and, although he attended and participated in the deliberations of that august body, he declined to sign the Constitution. Other members of the Georgia delegation to the Convention were William Few, Abraham Baldwin, and William Pierce.
With his brother John he was one of the original trustees for the establishment of a college to which the State granted forty thousand acres of land in 1784, chartered in 1785 as Franklin College, now the University of Georgia, He resigned this position in 1787.
Mr. Houstoun was a lawyer of note in his day. Loyal to his native State and section, he was quick to avenge any insinuation that reflected against either. On one occasion the Rev. James Manning, delegate from Rhode Island, made some remarks which he construed as reflecting on the people of the South, and the next morning he appeared in Congress armed with a sword. His friends intervened and the fiery young Georgian was persuaded to send his sword back to his room by his servant, thus closing the incident.
William Houstoun died on March 17, 1813.
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