Colonial Hall -- Biographies of America's Founding Fathers

-Signers of the Declaration
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George Read


   In the following September, Mr. Read was elected president of the convention which formed the first constitution of the state of Delaware. On the completion of this, he was offered the executive chair, but chose at that time to de-cline the honor. In 1777, the governor, Mr. M'Kinley, was captured by a detachment of British troops, when Mr. M'Kean was called to take his place in this responsible office, the duties of which he continued to discharge, until the release of the former gentleman.
   In 1779, ill health required him to retire for a season from public employment. In 1782, however, he accepted the appointment of judge of the court of appeals in admiralty cases, an office in which he continued till the abolition of the court.
   In 1787, he represented the state of Delaware in the convention which framed the Constitution Of The United States, under which he was immediately elected a member of the Senate. The duties of this exalted station he discharged till 1793, when he accepted of a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court of the state of Delaware, as chief justice. In this station he continued till the autumn of 1798, when he was suddenly summoned to another world.
   In all the offices with which Mr. Read was entrusted by his fellow citizens, he appeared with distinguished ability; but it was as a judge that he stood pre-eminent. For this station he was peculiarly fitted, not only by his unusual legal attainments, but by his singular patience in hearing all that council might deem important to bring forward, and by a cool and dispassionate deliberation of every circumstance which could bear upon the point in question. To this day his decisions are much respected in Delaware, and are often recurred to, as precedents of no doubtful authority.
   In private life, the character of Mr. Read was not less estimable and respectable. He was consistent in all the relations of life, strict in the observance of his moral duties, and characterized by an expanded benevolence towards all around him.

Source: Rev. Charles A. Goodrich Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 320-323. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)

See also:

  • The biography of Gertrude Ross Read, George Read's wife

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    Last modified January 5, 2005