George Read - Voted Against Independence then Signed Declaration of Independence

An Anglican Irish American

George Read’s grandfather was a wealthy resident of Dublin, Ireland whose son, John moved to the Maryland colony about 1726.

The Read’s appear to have been a part of the English aristocracy in Ireland. These people were English whose ancestors had moved to Ireland and put down roots in Ireland.

Unlike the native Celtic Irish who were predominantly Roman Catholic in religion or the Scot Irish, also of Celtic origin, who had been moved to Ireland in the seventeenth century by the British and were predominantly Presbyterian or other Calvinist persuasion, these English in Ireland were generally Anglicans and were often wealthy landowners or merchants.

Hub 26 for 30 Hubs in 30 Days Challenge

My assistant, Chika, and I trying to write and publish 30 Hubs in 30 Days
My assistant, Chika, and I trying to write and publish 30 Hubs in 30 Days

Born in Maryland and Grew Up in Delaware

George Read was born in Cecil County, Maryland on September 18, 1733 to John and Mary Howell Read.

Shortly after George’s birth the family moved to New Castle County, Delaware here George grew up and received his early education.

As a young man, George studied law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was admitted to the Philadelphia Bar in 1753. A year later he returned to New Castle, Delaware and set up his law practice.

Married the Sister of Another Signer of Declaration of Independence

In 1763 George Read married Gertrude Ross Till, a widow, who was the daughter of the Reverend George Ross, the Anglican Rector of Immanuel Church in New Castle.

Gertrude was also the sister of George Ross who would also sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

George and Gertrude had five children - John, George Jr., William, John, and Mary.

A Moderate Who Initially Opposed Independence

Like other lawyers in the colonies, George was active in public affairs but, as tensions between the crown and the colonies began to deteriorate, he tended to side with the moderates who sought to resolve problems and maintain good relations with the King.

Read, while active in the political debates leading up to the Revolution, remained opposed to a break with England right up to the debate over independence.

Even though he was a member of both the First and Second Continental Congresses, he frequently did not attend the sessions and was reluctant to join those advocating strong action against the King.

When Congress first voted on independence on July 2, 1776, Read was among those opposed to the resolution.

It was because of Read that Caesar Rodney, Delaware’s third delegate to the Congress, who was home in Delaware at the time of the debate, was forced to make his famous overnight horseback ride to Philadelphia in order to break the deadlock in the Delaware delegation between Thomas McKean and Read.

George Read

Public Domain Photo courtesy of WikiPedia.org ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GeorgeRead.gif  )
Public Domain Photo courtesy of WikiPedia.org ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GeorgeRead.gif )

Read Votes 'No' On Independence and then Signs the Declaration of Independence

With Read opposed to independence and McKean in favor the Delaware vote was split leaving the colony unable to cast its vote one way or the other.

With the pro-independence Rodney present the Delaware delegation became two to one in favor of independence.

Despite his no vote on the issue of independence, Read did step forward and signed the Declaration of Independence after it had been approved by a majority of the colonies.

George Read appears to have been a moderate who, while supporting the colonist's desire for liberty and agreeing with many of their complaints against the abuses by King George III and the British Parliament, felt that war and total independence were not the answer.

War is always a big step and, to men like George Read, seemed like a radical solution to their current situation.

However, his sympathies were with those supporting liberty. With the nation already in open rebellion against England, Read had no choice but to either join the step toward independence or side with those (known as Loyalists or Tories) who were joining with the British and taking up arms against the rebels.

Read Later Signs the Constitution

Read remained active in both national and state politics.

He was a member of the Constitutional Convention after the Revolutionary War thus making him one of the few founding fathers who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

After the ratification of the Constitution, George Read was appointed the first Senator from Delaware by the legislature (originally Senators were appointed by state legislators rather than by popular vote as they are not elected).

George Read died on September 21, 1798 at his home in New Castle, Delaware.

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Comments 7 comments

Chuck profile image

Chuck 6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Patrick Read - thank you for your interesting and informative comments. I had never heard of the laws forbidding Irishmen to leave an English port but it certainly makes sense that they would have such a law because, as I pointed out in my Hub on Hugo O'Conor ( http://hubpages.com/education/Hugo_OConor )many Irishmen slipped out of Ireland and went abroad to join (and in many cases, command) foreign armies fighting against England.

Thanks again for visiting and for this new information.

Chuck


Patrick Read 6 years ago

It is unclear if George Read was English or not. During the 1700s, England was amassing Irish land & indulging in Irish slavery.

Many Reeds (Reids) shipped here from English ports, after the UK passed a law that no Irishman could leave an English port. The UK got around their own rule by changing the names of their Irish passengers (same slave & some "LAND OWNERS") whom were heading for America. They modified sir-names to more English sounding names.

The name Reed & Reid is Irish, while the name Read is English. It should also be noted that during this time, loyal Catholic Brits were fleeing from England in masses. Many ran to Erie in order to be allowed to practice their faith without the threat of death.

And finally, England also encouraged men to wed Irish women in order to assimilate Ireland.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

Thanks for an interesting Hub.While I disagree with the notions behind the American rebellion, it certainly seems to have thrown up some interesting characters.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Darlene Sabella - Thanks for the suggestion. I have considered writing a book and have gotten as far as signing up on Lulu and checking that out but haven't had time to go further.

I have been doing research on Mathew Juan whom I have already written a Hub ( http://hubpages.com/education/Mathew-B-Juan--Nativ... ). If I can find out why he really changed his name when he joined the Army in World War I, I think I would have a good story.

My recent Hubs on the Navajo and Choctaw code talkers and the Arizona POW escape Hubs were all the result of a recent trip to the Arizona Military Museum (the topic of Hub 29 in my 30 Hubs in 30 Days and which I am working on now) is about the Museum.

Unfortunately they didn't have any new information but I am staying in contact as some of their volunteers might have information I am looking for.

Thanks again

Chuck


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

A big world becomes a small family, wvery during those days new everyone. This is so interesting chuck I really believe you should make a book out of these article you have written. Honestly, think about it?


bobmnu profile image

bobmnu 6 years ago from Cumberland

Very Interesting. It is nice to know about the Average Citizens who lead our Country and helped form it.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Interesting...and I like your assistant Chika. One could not hope for a better assistant!

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