The chartering of Williams College in 1793 was an act of faith and certainly an act surpassing the modest intentions of Colonel Ephraim Williams, for whom the college is named. (See also the Williams College Archives and Special Collections online exhibit "The Life of Ephraim Williams, Jr.")
Colonel Williams had not intended to found a college. Enroute with his regiment of Massachusetts militia to join the battle with the French and Indians at Lake George, the Colonel had tarried long enough in Albany to write his last will and testament on July 22, 1755. In it he bequeathed his residuary estate for the founding and support of a free school in West Township, where for some years he had commanded a detachment of militia at Fort Massachusetts, farthest outpost of the province. The will stipulated that West Township, then in dispute between Massachusetts and New York, must fall within Massachusetts and that the name of the township must be changed to Williamstown, if the free school was to be established at all.
On September 8, 1755, Colonel Williams was killed at the Battle of Lake George. On October 26, ...
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