Founding father, legislator, pioneer, and financier, William Few Jr. is best known as a signer of the U.S. Constitution.
Few was born in Maryland in 1748, to Mary Wheeler and William Few Sr. For some years the family lived in North Carolina, where Few’s brother James was hanged for his part in the Regulator Insurrection, an uprising against what many citizens viewed as unfair taxation practices by the royal government. Embroiled in political difficulties in North Carolina, the family moved to upper Richmond County, Georgia, in the mid-1770s. During the American Revolution (1775-83), Few fought in the Battle of Burke County Jail, served in the state legislative sessions, and took part in Georgia’s 1777 constitutional convention. In 1780 he was elected to the Continental Congress. In the decade following the war, he, more than anyone, lobbied for the upper part of Richmond County to become a new county, a dream realized when Columbia County was created in 1790.
In 1786 Few was appointed to Congress by the state legislature; the next year he represented Georgia in the constitutional convention at Philadelphia that drafted the U.S. Constitution in 1787. His signature is on that document, along with that of Abraham Baldwin. Few missed large portions of the proceedings because of his congressional service. He wasn’t in Philadelphia during all of July and part of August, and he never made a speech to the Continental Congress. Nonetheless, Few did assist in shepherding the new Constitution through its first obstacle, approval by Congress. He later served four years as a U.S. senator, one term as a state representative, and three years as judge of the Second Judicial District in Georgia. He was an outspoken opponent of the infamous Yazoo land fraud, though his political enemies tried to implicate him in this scam.
In 1799 he moved to New York City, where he served as a member of the New York legislature for four years. He became an officer in the Manhattan Bank and president of City Bank. He and his wife, Catherine Nicholson, had three daughters. Few died on July 16, 1828. During the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976, his remains were moved from New York to St. Paul’s Cemetery in Augusta.