William Vans Murray

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William Vans Murray
William Vans Murray.jpg
Portrait (1787), oil on canvas, of William Vans Murray (1760–1803), by Mather Brown (1761–1831)
Born February 9, 1760
Glasgow, Cambridge, Maryland
Died December 11, 1803(1803-12-11) (aged 43)
Occupation Lawyer, attorney, diplomat
Relatives Clement Sulivane (nephew)

William Vans Murray (February 9, 1760 – December 11, 1803) was an American lawyer, politician, and statesman. He served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1788 to 1790, and in the United States House of Representatives from 1791 to 1797. He was the United States Ambassador to the Netherlands from 1797 to 1801.


Early life[edit]

William Vans Murray was born on February 9, 1760 in Glasgow, Cambridge, Maryland. He studied the Law in England.


He served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1788 to 1790. He was then elected to the US House of Representatives from the fifth district of Maryland, serving from 1791 until 1793. He represented the eighth district from 1793 to 1797. He was appointed the U.S. Minister (ambassador) to the Netherlands from 1797 until 1801. He supported the U.S. mission to France in peace negotiations.

He wrote a series of six essays, which were published in Philadelphia during the Constitutional Convention. Murray rejected the notion, advanced by Montesquieu among others, that virtue was the root of democracy. He addressed his essays to John Adams, then assigned to London as the United States ambassador, and of whom Murray was a "political disciple."[1]


He died on December 11, 1803.


  1. ^ Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1992.

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
George Gale
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Samuel Smith
Preceded by
District created
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Dennis
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John Quincy Adams
U.S. Minister to the Netherlands
Succeeded by
William Eustis