1805 – Born in Smithfield, Virginia on the 25th of November.
1821 – Preston entered Hampden-Sydney College.
1824 – He was active in literary and forensic activities.
1826 – Preston studied law at the University of Virginia and was admitted to the bar.
1830 – The young attorney soon entered politics as a Whig and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
1831-1832 – He took an active part in the campaign to abolish slavery.
1840 – He was elected to the State Senate.
1844 – He served, before returning to the House of Delegates.
1846 – He was elected to the United States House of Representatives.
1849 – In March, President Zachary Taylor appointed the Preston Secretary of the Navy.
1858 – Preston acquired a reputation for being a fine defense lawyer before being sent to France to negotiate for the establishment of a line of commercial steamers to operate between Le Havre and Norfolk.
1861 – On the 13th of February, the secession convention met in Richmond and numbered William B. Preston amongst the delegates.
– Finding the President firm in his resolve to hold the Federal forts then in the South, the three men returned to Richmond on the 15th of April.
1861 – With the news of the firing on Fort Sumter in South Carolina on the 12th of April, conservative and moderate strength in the secessionist convention melted away.
– On the 16th of April, convinced that secession was inevitable, William B. Preston submitted, in secret session, an ordinance of secession.
He served in that legislative body until his death at Smithfield on the 16th of November.