WILLIAM JONES was born in Newport, Rhode Island. A participant in the Revolutionary War, he was commissioned as Captain of Marines on board the Providence as the war was coming to an end and was a dispatch agent to the American commissioners in Paris. He went on to become a Justice of the Peace and was elected to the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1807, serving as Speaker in 1809 and 1810. A Federalist, Jones defeated incumbent James Fenner—a Democratic-Republican—for the governorship in 1811 by just a few hundred votes, winning reelection for five additional terms. During his administration, Rhode Island was defiant toward the federal government in the midst of the War of 1812, and Jones—who considered the war unjust—expressed concern about the defense of the coastline and asserted his authority in using the state militia for protection. After being defeated for reelection to a seventh term as governor, he retired from public life.
Mohr, Ralph S. Governors for Three Hundred Years (1638-1954): Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.State of Rhode Island, Graves Registration Committee, August 1954.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 9. New York: James T. White & Company.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.