Washington and His Generals - Vol. 1

By Joel Tyler Headley | Go to book overview

MAJOR-GENERAL WILLIAM, EARL OF STIRLING.

WILLIAM ALEXANDER better known by his title of Lord Stirling, was born at the city of New York, in the year 1726. His father, James Alexander, was a native of Scotland, who took refuge, in this country, in 1716, in consequence of the part he had taken in favour of the Pretender, the year previous. He seems to have joined the standard of that royal adventurer, rather from national than political predilection; for his family connections were Whigs, and it was through their interest that he obtained employment, on his arrival at New York, in the office of the secretary of the province. He had served in Scotland as an officer of engineers; and his mathematical acquirements, which were extensive and profound, recommended him to the appointment of surveyor-general of New Jersey and New York. His leisure he devoted to the study of the law, in the practice of which he attained, according to Mr. Smith the historian, "great eminence, from his profound legal knowledge, sagacity, and penetration." In 1720 he became a member of the provincial council, and proved himself, throughout a political career continuing until his death, a zealous, enlightened, and staunch adherent to liberal principles, and finally lost his life by repairing to Albany, when suffering from severe illness, to oppose a ministerial project oppressive to the colony.* He was not less eminent as a man of science, than as a lawyer and a patriot. With Dr. Franklin and others, he founded the American Philosophical Society; and he maintained a correspondence with the astronomer royal at

____________________
*
Smith's History of New York, vol. 2, p. 281, ed. 1830.

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