On April 4, 1825 – 190 years ago today, Detroiters elected their first mayor John R Williams. He served four more one-year terms as mayor in 1830, 44, 45 and 46. The street John R bears his name.
Some things you may not know about John R. Williams:
French was his native language.
Williams had owned slaves.
Before he was a prominent Detroit merchant, Williams was jailed in Montreal after a duel where he shot a descendant of explorer Robert LaSalle.
During the War of 1812, Captain Williams was taken prisoner when General William Hull surrendered Detroit.
In vying for a seat in Congress representing the Michigan Territory, he called his opponent’s citizenship into question. His opponent, Father Gabriel Richard, became a citizen and beat Williams in the election.
His son, Thomas R Williams, died during the Civil War after being shot in the chest during the Battle of Baton Rouge. Many references are made about Thomas in “A Confederate Girl’s Diary,” a popular memoir written by Sarah Morgan Dawson.
Read more on John R Williams here:
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