William Heath

From Academic Kids

Wiliam Heath (17371814) was an American farmer, soldier, and political leader from Massachusetts. He served as a Major General in the Continental Army during the Revolution.

Heath made his home for his entire life at his family’s farm in Roxbury, Massachusetts. His family started the farm in 1636, and he was born there on March 7, 1737. He became active in the militia, and was a captain in the Suffolk County militia in 1760, and by 1770 he was a Colonel and its leader.

In December of 1774 the revolutionary government in Massachusetts named him a Brigadier General. He commanded Massachusetts forces during the last stage of the Battle of Lexington and Concord in April of 1775. As the Siege of Boston began Heath devoted himself to traning the militia involved in the siege. In June that year, Massachusetts named him their Major General, and the Continental Congress made him a Brigadier General in the national army.

In 1776 Heath participated in the defense of New York City, and was one of those who urged General Washington not to abandon the city. He saw action at the Battle of Long Island, the Battle of Harlem Heights, and the Battle of White Plains. In August, he was made a Major General in the Continental Army, and in November he was placed in command of forces in the Hudson River Highlands.

After this General Heath served in mainly background area commands. He was in charge of the Convention Army of John Burgoyne’s surrendered troops after the Battle of Saratoga. In 1780 he returned to command the Highland Department after Benedict Arnold’s treason.

After the war, Heath was a member of the Massachusetts Convetion that ratified the United States Constitution in 1788. He served in the state Senate 1791–1792, and as a Probate Court Judge. In 1800 he was elected the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, but declined the office.

He died at home in Roxbury on January 24, 1814 and was buried in the Forrest Hills Cemetery at Jamaica Plains, now a neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts.

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