-Signers of the Declaration
-Signers of the A. O. C.
-Signers of the U. S. Constitution
-Wives of the Signers
During the same year, Mr. Read was connected by marriage with a daughter of the Rev. John Ross, a clergyman, who had long presided over an Episcopal church, in the town of Newcastle. The character of Mrs. Read was in every respect excellent. She possessed a vigorous understanding. In her person she was beautiful, and to elegant manners was added a deep and consistent piety. She was also imbued with the spirit of a pure patriotism. During the revolutionary war, she was often called to suffer many privations, and was frequently exposed with her infant family to imminent danger, by reason of the predatory incursions of the British. Yet. in the darkest hour, and amidst the most appalling danger, her fortitude was unshaken, and her courage undaunted.
In the year 1765, Mr. Read was elected a representative from Newcastle county to the general assembly of Delaware, a post which he occupied for twelve years. In this station, and indeed through his whole political course, he appears to have been actuated neither by motives of self-interest nor fear. By an adherence to the royal cause, he had reason to anticipate office, honor, and wealth. But his patriotism and integrity were of too pure a character to be influenced by worldly preferment, or pecuniary reward. The question with him was, not what a worldly policy might dictate, but what reason and justice and religion would approve.
On the first of August, 1774, Mr. Read was chosen a member of the continental congress, in connection with Caesar Rodney, and Thomas M'Kean. To this station he was annually re-elected, during the whole revolutionary war, and was indeed present in the national assembly, except for a few short intervals, during the whole of that period.
It has already been noticed, that when the great question of independence came before congress, Mr. Read was opposed to the measure, and ultimately gave his vote against it. This he did from a sense of duty: not that he was unfriendly to the liberties of his country, or was actuated by motives of selfishness or cowardice. But he deemed the agitation of the question, at the time, premature and inexpedient. In these sentiments, Mr. Read was not alone. Many gentlemen in the colonies, characterized for great wisdom, and a decided patriotism, deemed the measure impolitic, and would have voted, had they been in congress, as he did. The idle bodings of these, fortunately, were never realized. They proved to be false prophets, but they were as genuine patriots as others. Nor were they, like some in similar circumstances, dissatisfied with results, differing from those which they had predicted. On the contrary, they rejoiced to find their anticipations were groundless. When, at length, the measure had received the sanction of the great national council, and the time arrived for signing the instrument, Mr. Read affixed his signature to it, with all the cordiality of those who had voted in favor of the declaration itself.
Designed and Edited by John Vinci