William C Houston, Continental Congressman

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William Churchill Houston

Birthdate: (42)
Birthplace: Sumter , South Carolina
Death: August 12, 1788 (42)
Frankford, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Tuberculosis)
Place of Burial: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Archibald Houston and Margaret Houston
Husband of Jane Houston
Father of Louisa Anna Van Cleve; Mary W. Brown; George Smith Houston; Churchill Houston and Eliza Smith Phillips

Managed by: Erica Howton
Last Updated:

About William C Houston, Continental Congressman


William Churchill Houston (ca. 1746 – August 12, 1788) was an American teacher, lawyer, and statesman. He was a delegate to both the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention for New Jersey. Houston was elected in 1785 to the American Philosophical Society.

Early life and career

Houston was born in the Sumter District of central South Carolina. His parents, Archibald and Margaret Houston, were farmers who had emigrated to the then British colony from Ireland. He attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) After his graduation in 1768 he stayed on as a tutor, becoming a Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy (science) in 1771.

American Revolution


When British forces occupied Princeton in 1776 at the outset of the Revolution the college was closed and the students and professors returned home. Houston then joined with the militia of nearby Somerset County and saw action in the area. He was later elected Captain of one of their carrots. When the British withdrew from New Jersey in 1777 and the college reopened, he returned to his teaching post.

Continental Congress and legal career

He was elected to represent Somerset County in the New Jersey General Assembly in 1777. In 1778 he served on the state’s Committee of Safety. Then from 1779 to 1781 New Jersey sent him as a delegate to the Continental Congress. His work in Congress was largely directed to issues of finance and supply[citation needed]. He began to study law at this time[citation needed].

He returned to the college, and was admitted to the bar in 1781. Houston also opened a law office in Trenton. During these years he was also named as clerk of the New Jersey Supreme Court. In 1783, he resigned from the college to devote himself to his legal career. He returned to the Continental Congress in 1784 and 1785.

Constitutional Convention delegate

In 1786, Houston was appointed to a commission to study the defects in the Articles of Confederation which joined the states. He went to the Annapolis Convention to discuss the problem. Instead of proposing changes to the articles, this Convention called for a full Constitutional Convention. When the United States Constitutional Convention assembled in 1787, he went to Philadelphia as a delegate. Houston only remained at the convention for a week before his failing health caused him to withdraw.


He died of tuberculosis the following year in Frankford, Pennsylvania (now part of Philadelphia) and was buried at the Second Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Philadelphia. Later, the burials from the Second Presbyterian Church were moved to Mount Vernon Cemetery in Philadelphia.



Continental Congressman. He was raised in North Carolina, graduated from Princeton in 1768, and served there as a tutor and professor until 1783. During the Revolution he served as a Captain in the Somerset Militia's Second Regiment. In 1775 and 1776 he was Deputy Secretary of the Continental Congress, and in 1776 he served in New Jersey's Provincial Congress.

He was a member of the New Jersey Assembly from 1777 to 1779 and served on the state Council of Safety in 1778. From 1779 to 1781 Houston was a member of the Continental Congress. He was admitted to the bar in 1781 and established a practice in Trenton. From 1782 to 1785 Houston was US Receiver of Taxes for New Jersey, and from 1781 to 1788 he was Clerk of the New Jersey Supreme Court. Houston served in the Continental Congress again from 1784 to 1785.

He was a Delegate to the 1786 Philadelphia convention that recommended replacing the Articles of Confederation, and in 1787 he was named a Delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Houston withdrew from the convention and returned to Trenton when his health began to fail from the effects of tuberculosis. He later decided to travel to North Carolina in the hopes that a warmer climate would restore his health, but he died at an inn while he was en route.

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William C Houston, Continental Congressman's Timeline

Sumter , South Carolina
Age 34
January 5, 1782
Age 36
New York, United States
Age 37
Age 39
Age 39
August 12, 1788
Age 42
Frankford, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Age 42
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA