August 4: William Floyd [1734-1821]

Nothing spectacular in word

We might not have even noticed William Floyd in history had he not been in place and time a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was like countless others in the early history of our nation. From a family which had emigrated from the old country,  this time from Wales, William Floyd was born in Brookhaven, Long Island in 1734.  Despite the prominence of the parents, he received no academic education outside the home, and only the barest of education in the home. The eldest son with seven younger brothers and sisters, at age 20, he found himself as the owner of the estate of  his parents when both of them died within two months of each other.

Not interested in political matters up to the time of the American Revolution, he busied himself in military matters, even reaching that rank of Major General in the New York militia. But when the issues of separation from England were brought to the fore in the mid seventeen hundreds, he entered the political fray. His fellow Long Islanders sent him as their representative as a delegate to the Continental  Congress in 1774. Indeed, with the exception of one year when the State of New York needed his presence in state government, William Floyd represented his constituents at succeeding congresses until 1783.

Now, it is true, there were no passionate speeches which have been handed down to us in the mighty decisions of Congress with his name attached to it. But he was the first of New York representatives who signed his name and sacred honor to the Declaration of Independence. For that, we should recognize him.

Certainly the British troops recognized him as a true American, and what he had done in Philadelphia. Occupying New York City during the revolution, the troops drove  his family into exile for seven years to Connecticut. They then treated  his fine estate as a barracks for their soldiers and animals.  He was one of the signers who almost was bankrupted by their excesses. After that war was over, he was still being recognized by his friends by being sent as a delegate to the First United States Congress in 1789 – 1791.

During this whole time, he was a faithful member of the South Haven Presbyterian Church in New York. In 1802, he helped to incorporate it, even named officers.  He in turn, along with another gentleman, examined and chose four trustees, among them his son. He helped out in the next couple of years to examine those interested in joining the church membership rolls.

He moved eventually to western New York to begin again, with a new wife since his first wife  had died. At the ripe old age of eighty-seven years, he died on August 4, 1821.  He is buried in the Presbyterian cemetery.

Words to Live By:
Some Christians are not known for their extrovert personalities, but simply do God’s will quietly and faithfully.  Many believers might not even know of their presence in their congregations or organizations, but they are there nonetheless.  They are the stalwarts of the congregation, and happy is the church where they are found.  Search them out.  Get to know them.  Encourage them by your words.  And thank God for their existence.  They keep your church going in the work of the Lord.

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