George Read (signer)

Infobox Officeholder
honorific-prefix =
name = George Read
honorific-suffix =


imagesize =
small

office = Chief Justice of Delaware
term_start = September 30 1793
term_end = September 21 1798
predecessor = William Killen
successor = Kensey Johns
office2 = U.S. Senator from Delaware
term_start2 = March 4 1789
term_end2 = September 18 1793
predecessor2 = new office
successor2 = Henry Latimer [this seat was vacant from September 18 1793 until February 7 1795.]
office3 = President of Delaware
term_start3 = October 20 1777
term_end3 = March 31 1778
predecessor3 = Thomas McKean
successor3 = Caesar Rodney
office4 = Continental Congressman
from Delaware

term_start4 = August 2 1774
term_end4 = December 17 1777
predecessor4 = new office
successor4 = Caesar Rodney
birth_date = birth date|1733|9|18|mf=y
birth_place = Cecil County, Maryland
death_date = death date and age|1798|9|21|1733|9|18
death_place = New Castle, Delaware
spouse = Gertrude Ross Till
party = Federalist
residence = New Castle, Delaware
alma_mater =
occupation =
profession = lawyer
religion = Episcopalian

George Read (September 18 1733ndash September 21 1798) was an American lawyer and politician from New Castle, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a Continental Congressman from Delaware, a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, President of Delaware, and a member of the Federalist Party, who served as U.S. Senator from Delaware and Chief Justice of Delaware.

Early life and family

Read was born September 18 1733 in Cecil County, Maryland, near North East, the son of John and Mary Howell Read. John Read was a wealthy English resident of Dublin, Ireland who came to Maryland as a young man and was one of the founders of Charlestown, Maryland in Cecil County. When George Read was an infant the family moved to New Castle County, Delaware, settling near the village of Christiana. As he grew up, Read joined Thomas McKean at the Rev. Francis Alison's Academy at New London, Pennsylvania and then studied law in Philadelphia with John Moland. He was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1753 and a year later he returned home to establish a practice at New Castle, Delaware.

In 1763 Read married Gertrude Ross Till, daughter of the Rev. George Ross, the Anglican rector of Immanuel Church in New Castle, and widowed sister of George Ross, also a future signer of the Declaration of Independence. They had five children, John, George Jr., William, John, and Mary, who married Gunning Bedford, Sr., a future Governor of Delaware. They lived on The Strand in New Castle. Their house was in what is now the garden of the present Read House and Gardens, owned by the Delaware Historical Society. They were members of Immanuel Episcopal Church.

In 1763 John Penn, the Proprietary Governor, appointed Read Crown Attorney General for the three Delaware counties and he served in that position until leaving for the Continental Congress in 1774. He also served in the Colonial Assembly of the Lower Counties for twelve sessions, from 1764/65 through 1775/76.

American Revolution

Eighteenth century Delaware was politically divided into loose factions known as the "Court Party" and the "Country Party." The majority Court Party was generally Anglican, strongest in Kent County and Sussex County, worked well with the colonial Proprietary government, and was in favor of reconciliation with the British government. The minority Country Party was largely Ulster-Scot, centered in New Castle County, and quickly advocated independence from the British. Read was the epitome of the Court party politician; from 1763 to 1774, he served as the colonial Attorney General. Wright and MacGregor, Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution, Center of Military History, United States Army, Washington, D.C. (1987) http://www.history.army.mil/books/RevWar/ss/read.htm] As such, he generally worked in opposition to Caesar Rodney and his friend and neighbor, Thomas McKean.

Read, therefore, like most people in Delaware, was very much in favor of trying to reconcile differences with Great Britain. He opposed the Stamp Act and similar measures of Parliament, and supported anti-importation measures and dignified protests, but was quite reluctant to pursue the option of outright independence. Nevertheless, from 1764 he led the Delaware Committee of Correspondence and was elected to serve along with the more radical Thomas McKean and Caesar Rodney in the First and Second Continental Congress from 1774 through 1777. He was frequently absent though, and when the Congress voted on American Independence on July 2 1776, Read surprised many by voting against it. This meant Caesar Rodney had to ride overnight to Philadelphia to break the deadlock in Delaware's delegation in favor of independence. However, when the Declaration of Independence was finally adopted, Read signed it, joining the cause in spite of his natural caution.

Government of Delaware

Anticipating the Declaration of Independence, the General Assembly of the Lower Counties declared its separation from the British government on June 15 1776. Once the Declaration of Independence was actually adopted, the General Assembly called for elections to a Delaware constitutional convention to draft a constitution for the new state. Read was elected to this convention, became its President, and guided the passage of the Thomas McKean-drafted document, which became the Delaware Constitution of 1776.

Read was then elected to the first Legislative Council of the Delaware General Assembly and was selected as the Speaker in both the 1776-77 and 1777-78 sessions. At the time of the capture of President John McKinly, Read was in Philadelphia attending Congress, and after narrowly escaping capture himself while returning home, he became President on October 20 1777, serving until March 31 1778. During these months the British occupied Philadelphia and were in control of the Delaware River. Read tried, mostly in vain, to recruit additional soldiers and protect the state from raiders from Philadelphia and off ships in the Delaware River. The Delaware General Assembly session of 1777-78 had to be moved to Dover, Delaware for safety and the Sussex County General Assembly delegation was never seated because disruptions at the polls had negated the election results.

After Caesar Rodney was elected to replace him as President, Read continued to serve in the Legislative Council through the 1778-79 session. After a one-year rest nursing ill health, he was elected to the House of Assembly for the 1780-81 and 1781-82 sessions. He returned to the Legislative Council in the 1782-83 session and served two terms, through the 1787-88 session. In 1782 he was appointed Judge of the Court of Appeals in admiralty cases.

{|class=wikitable style="width: 94%" style="text-align: center;" align="center"
-bgcolor=#cccccc!colspan=12 style="background: #ccccff;" |Delaware General Assembly
"(sessions while President)"
-!Year!Assembly!!Senate Majority!Speaker!!House Majority!Speaker
-
1777/78
2nd|
Party shading/Federalist |"non-partisan"
Party shading/Federalist |George Read|
Party shading/Federalist |"non-partisan"
Party shading/Federalist |Samuel West
-
###@@@KEYEND@@@###

U.S. Constitutional Convention

Read was again called to national service in 1786 when he represented Delaware at the Annapolis Convention. Because so few states were represented, this meeting produced only a report calling for a broader convention to be held in Philadelphia the next year.

At what became the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Read again represented Delaware. Quoting from Wright & Morris in their "Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution",

"Read immediately argued for a new national government under a new Constitution, saying 'to amend the Articles was simply putting old cloth on a new garment.' He was a leader in the fight for a strong central government, advocating, at one time, the abolition of the states altogether and the consolidation of the country under one powerful national government. 'Let no one fear the states, the people are with us;' he declared to a Convention shocked by this radical proposal. With no one to support his motion, he settled for protecting the rights of the small states against the infringements of their larger, more populous neighbors who, he feared, would 'probably combine to swallow up the smaller ones by addition, division or impoverishment.' He warned that Delaware 'would become at once a cipher in the union' if the principle of equal representation embodied in the New Jersey (small-state) Plan was not adopted and if the method of amendment in the Articles was not retained. He favored giving Congress the right to vote state laws, making the federal legislature immune to popular whims by having senators hold office for nine years or during good behavior, and granting the U.S. President broad appointive powers. Outspoken, he threatened to lead the Delaware delegation out of the Convention if the rights of the small states were not specifically guaranteed in the new Constitution."
Once those rights were assured, he led the ratification movement in Delaware which, partly as a result of his efforts, became the first state to ratify.

United States Senator

Following the adoption of the Federal Constitution of 1787, the Delaware General Assembly elected Read as one of its two U.S. Senators. His term began March 4 1789, he was reelected in 1791, and resigned September 18 1793. Read served with the pro-administration majority in the 1st and 2nd Congress, during the administration of U.S. President George Washington. As Senator he supported the assumption of state debts, establishment of a national bank, and the imposition of excise taxes. He resigned as Senator to accept an appointment as Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court and served in that capacity until his death.

Read's resignation from the U.S. Senate was before the first session of the 3rd Congress assembled, but it was not until February 7 1795, 4 weeks before it adjourned, that Henry Latimer was elected to replace him. One of Delaware's U.S. Senate seats was, therefore, vacant from September 18 1793 until February 7 1795.

Death and legacy

Read died September 21 1798 at New Castle, Delaware and was buried there, at the Immanuel Episcopal Church Cemetery.

William T. Reid in his "Life and Correspondence" described Read as "tall, slightly and gracefully formed, with pleasing features and lustrous brown eyes. His manners were dignified, bordering upon austerity, but courteous, and at times captivating. He commanded entire confidence, not only from his profound legal knowledge, sound judgment, and impartial decisions, but from his severe integrity and the purity of his private character." However, a fellow delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 noted that "his legal abilities are said to be very great, but his powers of oratory are fatiguing and tiresome to the last degree; his voice is feeble and his articulation so bad that few can have patience to attend him." Historians like John Munroe have generally recognized that all in all, Read was the dominating figure in Delaware politics during his career, directly or indirectly providing consistent and reliable leadership to the new state. [cite book |title=History of Delaware |last=Munroe |first=John A. |year=1993 ]

On The Strand in New Castle, Delaware is the house built by his son, George Read, II. It is owned by the Delaware Historical Society, restored and opened to the public. There is a school named for him in New Castle and a dorm at the University of Delaware.

Almanac

Elections were held October 1st. Members of the General Assembly took office on October 20th, or the following weekday. State Assemblymen had a one year term. The Legislative Council was created in 1776 and Legislative Councilmen had a three year term. The General Assembly chose the Continental Congressmen for a one year term and the State President for a three year term. They also chose the U.S. Senators, who took office March 4, and had a six year term. However, Read's first term was only two years to establish a rotation.

{|class=wikitable style="width: 94%" style="text-align: center;" align="center"
-bgcolor=#cccccc!colspan=8 style="background: #ccccff;" | Public Offices
-! Office! Type! Location! Elected! Took Office! Left Office! notes
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Attorney General
Judiciary
New Castle|
October 20 1763
October 20 1774|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1764
October 20 1764
October 21 1765|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1765
October 21 1765
October 20 1766|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1766
October 20 1766
October 20 1767|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1767
October 20 1767
October 20 1768|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1768
October 20 1768
October 20 1769|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1769
October 20 1769
October 20 1770|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1770
October 20 1770
October 21 1771|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1771
October 21 1771
October 20 1772|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1772
October 20 1772
October 20 1773|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1773
October 20 1773
October 20 1774|
-Party shading/Anti-Masonic
Continental Congressman
Legislature
Philadelphia
August 2 1774
September 5 1774
October 26 1774|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1774
October 20 1774
October 20 1775|
-Party shading/Anti-Masonic
Continental Congressman
Legislature
Philadelphia
March 16 1775
May 10 1775
October 21 1775|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
New Castle
1775
October 20 1775
June 15 1776|
-Party shading/Anti-Masonic
Continental Congressman
Legislature
Philadelphia
October 21 1775
October 21 1775
November 7 1776|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Delegate
Convention
New Castle|
August 27 1776
September 21 1776
State Constitution
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Councilman
Legislature
Dover
1776
October 28 1776
October 20 1779
Speaker
-Party shading/Anti-Masonic
Continental Congressman
Legislature
Philadelphia
November 7 1776
November 7 1776
December 17 1777
[Congress met at Baltimore, Maryland from December 20 1776 - March 4 1777, at Lancaster, Pennsylvania on September 27 1777 and at York, Pennsylvania from September 30 1777 to the end of his term. He did not attend the sessions at Lancaster or York.]
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
State President
Executive
Dover|
October 20 1777
March 31 1778
acting
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
Dover
1780
October 20 1780
October 20 1781|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Assemblyman
Legislature
Dover
1781
October 20 1781
October 20 1782|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Councilman
Legislature
Dover
1782
October 20 1782
October 20 1785|
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Councilman
Legislature
Dover
1785
October 20 1785
October 20 1788|
-Party shading/Anti-Masonic
Delegate
Convention
Philadelphia|
May 14 1787
September 17 1787
U.S. Constitution
-Party shading/Anti-Masonic
U.S. Senator
Legislature
New York|
March 4 1789
March 3 1791|
-Party shading/Anti-Masonic
U.S. Senator
Legislature
Philadelphia|
March 4 1791
September 18 1793
resigned
-Party shading/Anti-Jacksonian
Chief Justice
Judiciary
Dover|
September 30 1793
September 21 1798
State Supreme Court
###@@@KEYEND@@@###

{|class=wikitable style="width: 94%" style="text-align: center;" align="center"
-bgcolor=#cccccc!colspan=7 style="background: #ccccff;" |Delaware General Assembly "service"
-! Dates! Assembly! Chamber! Majority! Governor! Committees! District
-Party shading/Democratic-Republican
1776/77
1st
State Council
"non-partisan"
John McKinly
Speaker
New Castle "at-large"
-Party shading/Federalist
1777/78
2nd
State Council
"non-partisan"
Caesar Rodney
Speaker
New Castle "at-large"
-Party shading/Federalist
1778/79
3rd
State Council
"non-partisan"
Caesar Rodney|
New Castle "at-large"
-Party shading/Federalist
1780/81
5th
State House
"non-partisan"
Caesar Rodney|
New Castle "at-large"
-Party shading/Federalist
1781/82
6th
State House
"non-partisan"
John Dickinson|
New Castle "at-large"
-Party shading/Federalist
1782/83
7th
State Council
"non-partisan"
Nicholas Van Dyke|
New Castle "at-large"
-Party shading/Federalist
1783/84
8th
State Council
"non-partisan"
Nicholas Van Dyke|
New Castle "at-large"
-Party shading/Federalist
1784/85
9th
State Council
"non-partisan"
Nicholas Van Dyke|
New Castle "at-large"
-Party shading/Federalist
1785/86
10th
State Council
"non-partisan"
Nicholas Van Dyke|
New Castle "at-large"
-Party shading/Federalist
1786/87
11th
State Council
"non-partisan"
Thomas Collins|
New Castle "at-large"
-Party shading/Federalist
1787/88
12th
State Council
"non-partisan"
Thomas Collins|
New Castle "at-large"
###@@@KEYEND@@@###

{|class=wikitable style="width: 94%" style="text-align: center;" align="center"
-bgcolor=#cccccc!colspan=7 style="background: #ccccff;" |United States Congressional "service"
-! Dates! Congress! Chamber! Majority! President! Committees! Class/District
-Party shading/Federalist
1789-1791
1st
U.S. Senate
Pro-Administration
George Washington|
class 1
-Party shading/Federalist
1791-1793
2nd
U.S. Senate
Pro-Administration
George Washington|
class 1
-Party shading/Federalist
1793-1795
3rd
U.S. Senate
Pro-Administration
George Washington|
class 1
###@@@KEYEND@@@###

Notes

References

*cite book |title=History of the State of Delaware, 3 vols. |last=Conrad |first=Henry C. |coauthors= |work= |publisher=Wickersham Company |location=Lancaster, Pennsylvania |year=1908 |id=
*cite book |title=Democracy in Delaware |last=Hoffecker |first=Carol E. |coauthors= |work= |publisher=Cedar Tree Books |location=Wilmington, Delaware |pages= |year=2004 |id=ISBN 1-892142-23-6
*cite book |title=History of Delaware Through its Governors |last=Martin |first=Roger A. |coauthors= |work= |publisher=McClafferty Press |location=Wilmington, Delaware |pages= |year=1984 |id=
*cite book |title=Memoirs of the Senate |last=Martin |first=Roger A. |coauthors= |work= |publisher=Roger A. Martin |location=Newark, Delaware |pages= |year=1995 |id=
*cite book |title=Federalist Delaware 1775-1815 |last=Munroe |first=John A. |coauthors= |work= |publisher=Rutgers University |location=New Brunswick, New Jersey |pages= |year=1954 |id=
*cite book |title=Philadelawareans |last=Munroe |first=John A. |coauthors= |work= |publisher=University of Delaware Press |location=Newark, Delaware |pages= |year=2004 |id=ISBN 0-87413-872-8
*cite book |title=Biographical Directory of American and Revolutionary Governors 1607-1789 |last=Racino |first=John W. |year=1980 |publisher=Meckler Books |location=Westport, CT |id=ISBN 0-930466-00-4
*cite book |title=History of Delaware 1609-1888. 2 vols |last=Scharf |first=John Thomas |coauthors= |work= |publisher=L. J. Richards & Co |location=Philadelphia |pages= |year=1888 |id=ISBN 0-87413-493-5


=

* [http://www.state.de.us/research/Tour/information/Governors/govs-01.shtml Hall of Governors Portrait Gallery ] "Portrait courtesy of Historical and Cultural Affairs, Dover."

External links

*CongBio|R000091
* [http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/read.html#R9M0JAG8Q George Read at the "Political Graveyard"]
*Find A Grave|id=2777
* [http://www.russpickett.com/history/delgov1.htm#gread George Read at "Delaware’s Governors"]
* [http://www.russpickett.com/history/readbio.htm George Read biography by Russell Pickett]

Places with more information

* [http://www.hsd.org/ Historical Society of Delaware] , 505 Market St., Wilmington, Delaware (302) 655-7161
* [http://www.lib.udel.edu/ University of Delaware Library] , 181 South College Ave., Newark, Delaware (302) 831-2965
* [http://www.hsd.org/read.htm George Read House and Gardens] , 42 The Strand, New Castle, Delaware (302)322-8411
* [http://www.immanuelonthegreen.org/history/history_newcastle.html Immanuel Episcopal Church] , 100 Harmony St., New Castle, Delaware (302) 328-2413


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • George Read — is the name of:* George Read (signer) (1733 ndash;1798), American lawyer and signer of the Declaration of Independence * George Read (Canadian politician), leader of the Green Party of Alberta * George Read (Ontario politician), (1819 ndash;… …   Wikipedia

  • Read (surname) — Read is a surname of English origins, its most likely derivation is from the Anglo Saxon (Old English) term for the colour red. The English town of Reading on the River Thames derives its name from a very early English tribal or community group… …   Wikipedia

  • George Taylor (delegate) — Infobox Politician name = George Taylor office = Member, Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania term start = 4 March 1777 term end = 8 November 1777 office2 = Pennsylvania Delegate to the Continental Congress term start2 = 20 July 1776 term… …   Wikipedia

  • George Taylor House — Infobox nrhp name = George Taylor House nrhp type = nhl caption = Home built by George Taylor, a signer of the Declaration of Independence location = Lehigh Poplar Sts., Catasauqua, Pennsylvania lat degrees = 40 lat minutes = 38 lat seconds = 52… …   Wikipedia

  • Read family of Delaware — The Read family of Delaware were a prominent political family in the 18th and 19th centuries in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It was founded by John Read, a wealthy Englishman who was one of the founders of Chestertown, Maryland.Family… …   Wikipedia

  • George Clymer — For George Clymer (disambiguation), see George Clymer (disambiguation). George Clymer Portrait by Charles Willson Peale Born March 16, 1739(1739 03 16) Phil …   Wikipedia

  • Read hot chili peppers — Red Hot Chili Peppers Red Hot Chili Peppers Les Red Hot Chili Peppers lors d un concert au Pinkpop Festival, Landgraaf en 2006. Alias Red Hot …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Peres fondateurs des Etats-Unis — Pères fondateurs des États Unis Les pères fondateurs réunis pour la signature de la Constitution des États Unis d Amérique Les Pères fondateurs des États Unis sont les hommes qui ont signé la Déclaration d indépendance ou la Constitution des… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pères Fondateurs — des États Unis Les pères fondateurs réunis pour la signature de la Constitution des États Unis d Amérique Les Pères fondateurs des États Unis sont les hommes qui ont signé la Déclaration d indépendance ou la Constitution des États Unis, et ceu …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pères fondateurs de la Constitution américaine — Pères fondateurs des États Unis Les pères fondateurs réunis pour la signature de la Constitution des États Unis d Amérique Les Pères fondateurs des États Unis sont les hommes qui ont signé la Déclaration d indépendance ou la Constitution des… …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”