Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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GRAYSON, William, senator, born in Prince William County, Virginia; died in Dumfries, Maryland, 12 March, 1790. He was graduated at the University of Oxford, England, and studied law at the Temple in London. He then returned to the colonies, settled in Dumfries, Maryland, and entered on the practice of his profession. He was appointed aide-de-camp to Washington, 24 August, 1776, became colonel of a Virginia regiment on 1 January following, and distinguished himself at the battle of Monmouth in 1778. He was a commissioner on the board of war in 1780-'1; a commissioner to treat with Sir William Howe respecting prisoners while the army was at Valley Forge : a member of the Continental congress in 1784-'7 ; a member of the Virginia convention of 1788 on the adoption of the Federal constitution, and was one of the minority who opposed the ratification. He was one of the senators from Virginia to the 1st congress, taking his seat on 21 May, 1789, and serving until his death.--His son, William J., statesman, born in Beaufort, South Carolina, in November, 1788; died in Newbern, 4 October, 1863, was graduated at the College of Charleston, South Carolina, in 1809, and bred to the legal profession. Entering upon its practice at Beaufort, he became a commissioner in equity of South Carolina, a member of the state legislature in 1813, and a senator in 1831. He opposed the tariff act in 1831, but was not disposed to push the collision to the extreme of civil war. He served in congress from 2 December 1833, till 3 March, 1837, and in 1841 was appointed collector of customs at Charleston. In 1843 he retired to his plantation. During the secession agitation of 1850 he published a "Letter to Governor Seabrook," deprecating disunion, and pointing out the evils that would follow it. He died of an illness following on a paralytic stroke. He was a frequent contributor to the "Southern Review," and also published "The Hireling and Slave," a poem (Charleston, South Carolina, 1854); " Chicora and Other Poems" ; "The Country," a poem ; "The Life of James L. Petigru " (New York, 1866); and is supposed to have been the author of a narrative poem entitled "Marion."
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