William B. Stanley (1929-2010) was a Norwich native who overcame dyslexia to proudly graduate from his college, Norwich Free Academy. He was an entrepreneur, photographer, stock analyst, real estate developer, political state senator, philanthropist, author, columnist, and foremost a family man.
He promoted the accomplishments of mostly, now unknown, leaders of America prior to President George Washington in 1788. There were 14 individuals who served as de facto Presidents of the colonies and later the United States between 1774 and 1788.
“Americans, some cynical observer once said, think history is something that happens to other people. He meant that most of the time, Americans concentrate on the present and the future, which have always been rich in possibility and hope. But some places have a history that is too important to ignore. Norwich is one of those places.
Over the centuries the city has produced many men and women who played important roles in the larger drama of the nation’s history. Even more impressive, Norwich’s past extends backward to the decades and even centuries before there was a nation. Its history includes the first encounters between red men and white men on this continent.
Norwich is fortunate to have had in its past people who realized the importance of this history and did their best to preserve its memory. Few of these Norwich patriots have done more in this often difficult task than Bill Stanley. His books and newspaper columns have rescued scores of events and people for future generations to ponder and appreciate. In this book he has summed up his efforts with a wonderful combination of pictures and text.
Someday soon, I am confident that Norwich will help Bill acheive his most ambitious dream – to establish a Library of the Forgotten Founders to preserve the genius, self sacrifice, and wisdom of the presidents of the Continental Congress, the men who led the country during the struggle for our independence. The example of Norwich’s own Samuel Huntington, one of the most distinguished members of this gallery of heroes, has inspired Bill Stanley to propose this project. He has the enthusiastic backing of many of America’s leading historians.”
Past President of the Society of American Historians
From Bill Stanley’s “Historic Sites of Norwich From the Beginning”
Related Articles: NY Times: Q&A/William Stanley; Small-Town History, From the Heart