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George Read (September 18, 1733 – September 21, 1798) is an American Founding Father. He was a shrewd, talented lawyer and Attorney General of lower Delaware. He was a member of the Provincial Assembly and president of the state constitutional convention. Also, a Delaware delegate to the Continental Congress that signed the Declaration of Independence. During the Revolutionary War, George Read became interim governor of Delaware. Read was a state Senator, judge of admiralty for the United States Court of Appeals. He was a delegate to the 1787 Federal Constitutional Convention and Chief Justice of Delaware.
George Read was born in Cecil County, Maryland to an Irish-born father. George and his five brothers were given a classical education. They attended private schools in Chester and afterward at the Reverend Francis Alison's Academy. At fifteen he graduated and proceeded to study law at the office of John Moland in Philadelphia. In 1753, George was admitted to the Philadelphia Bar at age nineteen. He would move back to New Castle and started a law practice. Read would marry widow Gertrude Ross Till, the sister of George Ross. She bore him five children.
As Attorney General of lower Delaware, Read would list the colony grievences to Britain. He would resign his position in protest due to the unattended offenses and unchanged attitude of King George III. Read secured his seat in the Continental Congress following the Stamp Act. He was known as a tireless delegate exhausting all possible means of reconciliation with Britain. At first he would vote against independence but a month later he joined the majority and adopted the resolution. In 1777, the British captured Delaware governor John McKinly and George Read took over as governor in the emergency.
In 1779 he had retired from his duties due to poor health. From 1782 to 1788, Read would be a state senator and he was appointed Judge in the Court of Appeals.
In 1786, he was a delegate to the Annapolis Convention, which sought to remedy defects present in the Articles of Confederation. A year later, Read participated in the formation of the Constitution. Other members of the Delaware delegation to the Convention were Gunning Bedford, Jr., Jacob Broom, John Dickinson, and Richard Bassett. While at the convention, Read was one of a few favorable to a quite provocative proposition which meant abolishing the states altogether and consolidating the country under one single National government.
He would resign in 1793 to become Chief Justice of Delaware, a post he filled until his death in 1798.
George Read died at his mansion in New Castle, Delaware and is buried at Immanuel Churchyard. His house Stonum in Delaware is a National Historic Landmark.
Dictionary of American Biography; Boughner, D. Terry, Jr. “George Read and the Founding of Delaware State, 1781-1798.” Ph.D. dissertation, Catholic University, 1970; Read, William T. Life and Correspondence of George Read. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott and Co., 1870.
- George Read, USHistory.org
- George Read, Georgeread.org
- READ, George, (1733 - 1798), Biographical Directory of the United States Congress