William Churchill Houston Papers
Permanent URL: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dr26xx41v
These papers were processed with a general operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.
- Houston, William Churchill, ca. 1746-1788.
- Title and dates:
- William Churchill Houston Papers
- bulk 1782-1793
- William Churchill Houston was a professor at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), a lawyer, and a statesman. He was a New Jersey delegate to the Continental Convention and the Continental Congress. The collection documents his legal career and his tenure as receiver for Continental taxes in New Jersey.
- 4.42 linear feet
- 5 archival boxes, 1 custom box
- Call number:
- Princeton University. Library. Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections
Princeton, New Jersey 08544 USA
- Language(s) of materials:
- Storage note:
- This collection is stored onsite at Firestone Library.
William Churchill Houston was born in South Carolina in 1746. He came to New Jersey for the purpose of attending the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). He graduated from the College in 1768 and became master of the College's grammar school. In 1771, the College's trustees appointed Houston to the newly created post of Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. He remained on the faculty until 1783. He also served as deputy secretary to the Continental Congress in 1775 and 1776.
Houston joined the Somerset County militia when British forces arrived in Princeton. The militia elected him captain of the Second Regiment of Foot in February of 1776, but Houston resigned from the position shortly afterward, feeling it was more important to attend to his duties on campus while President John Witherspoon was attending the Continental Congress. While helping to maintain the College during the war, he also represented Somerset County in the New Jersey General Assembly. Houston resigned from the General Assembly in May of 1779 when he was elected to serve as a representative of New Jersey to the Continental Congress. He served regularly until 1781, when he first became ill with tuberculosis, and then intermittently until 1785. Houston involved himself mostly in fiscal issues, commenting extensively on taxation. While serving in Congress, Houston used his spare time to study law with Richard Stockton. He was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1781 and was appointed clerk of the Supreme Court of New Jersey shortly thereafter.
In April of 1782, Superintendent of Finance of the United States Robert Morris appointed Houston receiver of Continental taxes in New Jersey. State receivers were responsible for coordinating tax collection in the state and facilitating payment to Congress. It was also around this time that Houston settled in Trenton and began to build his private law practice, litigating cases in Burlington, Hunterdon, and Monmouth counties. As Houston began to expand his legal practice and scale back his Congressional duties, his tuberculosis worsened. The New Jersey legislature elected Houston to serve as one of its delegates at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. However, he had a very limited role due to his illness and was not able to sign the United States Constitution. Houston died on August 12, 1788.
The William Churchill Houston Papers covers Houston's legal career and his tenure as receiver for Continental taxes in New Jersey. The papers document aspects of the nation's legal and taxation history during the transition from colonial period to sovereign nation. Documents include correspondence of Houston with Robert Morris (1734-1806) and Michael Hillegas (1729-1804) regarding Houston's responsibilities as tax collector for New Jersey. Also included are legal files, which consist of account ledgers, case notes, deeds, depositions, indentures, and summonses. The bulk of the legal files pertain to Houston's private legal practice. The files were created during cases tried in the Courts of Common Pleas in Burlington, Hunterdon, and Monmouth counties. Documents related to Houston's estate are also included.
Access and Use
This collection is open for research use.
Restrictions on Use and Copyright Information
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Associate University Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
Acquisition and Appraisal
Provenance and Acquisition
The legal papers were purchased from a private dealer on April 28, 1964. The correspondence was purchased from Daniel Maggin on September 18, 1964.
No accruals are expected.
Processing and Other Information
This collection was processed by Casey Babcock in August of 2007. Finding aid written by Casey Babcock in September of 2007.
Princetonians, 1748-1768 : A Biographical Dictionary (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1976) by James McLachlan was consulted during the preparation of this biographical note.
Descriptive Rules Used
Finding aid content adheres to that prescribed by Describing Archives: A Content Standard.
Machine-readable finding aid encoded in EAD 2002 by Casey Babcock on September 6, 2007.
Language(s) of this Finding Aid
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); William Churchill Houston Papers, Box and Folder Number; Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.
- Hart, John, 1711?-1779 -- Estate.
- Hillegas, Michael, 1729-1804.
- Morris, Robert, 1734-1806.
- New Jersey. Court of Common Pleas (Burlington County) -- 18th century.
- New Jersey. Court of Common Pleas (Hunterdon County) -- 18th century.
- New Jersey. Court of Common Pleas (Monmouth County) -- 18th century.
- New Jersey. Supreme Court -- 18th century.
- County courts -- New Jersey -- 18th century -- Records and correspondence.
- Indentured servants -- New Jersey -- 18th century.
- Tax collection -- New Jersey -- 18th century.
- New Jersey -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Sources.
- New Jersey -- Politics and government -- 1775-1783.
- Legal correspondence -- New Jersey -- 18th century.
- Legal documents -- New Jersey -- 18th century.
Browse other finding aids related to the following terms: