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George Read

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George Read (September 18, 1733September 21, 1798), was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Delaware.

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George Read

He was born on his family's farm near North East, Maryland, attended the Philadelphia Academy at New London and studied law. Read was admitted to the Philadelphia Bar in 1753 at the age of nineteen and established a practice at New Castle, Delaware in 1754. His practice grew quickly and soon soon extended into Maryland. On the strength of his repuation and the success of his practice, he was appointed Attorney General to three Delaware counties.

Read had long tried to point out to the British government the dangers of taxing the colonies without giving the colonies some sort of representation in the British parliament. He resigned the office of Attorney General in 1774, only after his election to the first Continental Congress in 1774.

As a lawyer and representative, Read was generally hard working and above all cautions. He generally did not want to push America toward independence until all efforts at reconciliation with Great Britain had been exhausted.

He joined the Delaware Committee of Correspondence in 1764. He voted against Lee's Resolution for Independence -- he thought the resolution was too hasty -- but joined with the majority in seeking independence once it had been adopted. He was president of the committee that drafted Delaware's constitution in 1776. In 1777 he replaced Governor John McKinly, captured by the British, as Delaware's governor. He became Judge in Court of Appeals in admiralty cases and was elected State Senator under the new constitution. Read was elected to the United States Senate in 1789, but could not attend meetings regularly. He resigned this post in 1793 to become Chief Justice of the State of Delaware in 1793, serving until his death in 1798 at his mansion in New Castle, Delaware.

From "Life and Correspondence" by William T. Reid:

"In person, Read was 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."

Preceded by:
U.S. Senator from Delaware
First Class
Succeeded by:
Henry Latimer

See also George Reid, George Read (Canadian politician)

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