Blog Post

Captain William Williams: Border-maker, Convict

Greg Rogers, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Maine

Using the conceptual tool of borderlands history, I am researching the exercise and limitations of geopolitical power at the everyday level in the eastern Lake Ontario region. I am particularly interested in the permeability of borders as a wide variety of historical actors deserted, spied, bargained, attacked, traded, and otherwise traveled between French, British, and Iroquois places. My research has come across many instances where the borderland has come to life; more than just a geographic construct, the human factor often proves to be pivotal.

Enter Captain William Williams, the doubly named colonial officer who served during the Seven Years War (or French and Indian War) in what is today Central New York. Williams was part of the prestigious New England Williams family. He was a relation of Colonel Ephraim Williams, the founder of Williams College in western Massachusetts and martyr at the Battle of Lake George. William was also the father of William Williams; a Harvard educated theologian, soldier, merchant, Continental Congress delegate for Connecticut, and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately for Captain Williams, his only real distinction would be the notoriety of being imprisoned by his fellow Anglo-Americans during the Seven Years War. This came about due to his reckless handling of Indian affairs and his insistence on serving as a self-appointed border guard. Read More.

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