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Motion on Promotion of Colonel Otho Holland Williams, [9 May] 1782

Motion on Promotion of
Colonel Otho Holland Williams

MS (NA: PCC, No. 36, I, 299). In JM’s hand. Charles Thomson wrote “Madison. Bland.” at the top of the manuscript to signify that JM made the motion and Theodorick Bland seconded it. Docketed, “Motion of Mr Madison seconded by Mr Bland respectg the promotion of Col. O Williams passed May 9th 1782.”

[9 May 1782]

General Green commandg. the Army of the U. S. in the S. Department, having represented to Congress1 that the appointment of a Brigadr. General to command a Brigade in the Maryland line of the Army was rendered expedient by the proposed formation of the sd. line into 2 brigades, & having recommended Col. Otho Williams2 as an officer whose distinguished Talents & services give him a just pretension to such appointment, which recommendation is also supported by the testimony of the Commander in Chief in favr. of the said officer,3

Resolved That in consideration of the distinguished Talents & Services of Col. O. Williams he be & hereby is appointed a Brigadr. General in the Army of the U. States.

1On 8 May Joseph Montgomery moved that Colonel Otho H. Williams be promoted to brigadier general in accord with the recommendation of General Greene in his letter of 10 February 1782 (NA: PCC, No. 155, II, 417). Thereupon, although unanimously supported by the delegates from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, and Georgia, an amendment by Abraham Clark to couple the name of Colonel Elias Dayton of New Jersey with that of Williams was rejected “as being out of order” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 248–49). On 9 May, after Clark and his colleagues from New Jersey failed to attract any backing except that of South Carolina for their resolution that “two brigadiers be appointed in the army of the United States,” JM introduced his motion. Following unsuccessful efforts to postpone its consideration and strike out its preamble, the resolution was adopted by an unrecorded vote (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 251–53). Congress delayed the promotion of Colonel Dayton until 7 January 1783 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 38).

2See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (4 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , III, 27, n. 6. On 10 December 1776 Otho Holland Williams (1749–1794), a merchant of Frederick County, Md., was advanced to the rank of colonel and appointed to command the 6th Maryland Regiment after about eighteen months of service as an officer in the continental army. By capturing him on 16 November of that year and confining him for much of the time until 16 January 1778 in the provost jail in New York City, the British shattered his robust health. As Horatio Gates’s deputy adjutant general and Nathanael Greene’s adjutant general, Williams rendered distinguished service during the campaign in the Carolinas in 1780 and 1781. He resigned his commission in January 1783 to accept an appointment by Maryland as naval officer of the Baltimore district. Appointed on 4 August 1789 by President Washington to be collector for the district of Baltimore, Williams retained this post until his death, although ill health frequently kept him from his office for many weeks (Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America, I [Washington, 1828], 14, 164).

3On 4 December 1781 in a letter to President Hanson, Washington stated that Williams had “ever stood high in my estimation” and deserved to be promoted (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXIII, 370).

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