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was soon afterward called to marshal his brigade to a scene of insurrectionary disorder in Delaware, which be speedily quelled ; and he also joined the main army of Washington when the British under Lord Howe landed at the mouth of the Elk river, and directed their march toward Philadelphia.* Not long after this event, toryism became so much in the minority, that it had but little
power to oppose
patriots and General Rodney was again elected to Congress. But the political agitation of his State demanded his presince there, and he remained. He was chosen President of the State, and performed the arduous duties of his office with great faithfulness for about four years. Delaware was peculiarly exposed to the predatory incursions of the enemy, and it required great sagacity and arduous toil for those who managed her affairs, to prevent a state of anarchy.
While thus laboring for his country's good, Mr. Rodney suffered greatly from the effects of a disease (cancer in the cheek) that had been upon him from his youth, and it made dreadful inroads upon his health. Feeling conscious that he was wasting away, he retired from public life and calmly awaited the summons for departure to the spiritland. He died early in the year 1783, when in the fiftythird
of his age.
* General Howe, finding it impracticable to reach Philadelphia by land, embarked his troops on board the British fleet, then lying off Sandy Hook, and proceeded to the Chesapeake Bay. His troops were landed at the mouth of Elk River, on the twenty-fifth of August, 1777, and that was the first intimation Washington had of his real destination. The British immediately commenced their march toward Philadelphia, and the Americans at the same time marched from that city to meet them. They met upon the river Brandywine, where the battle of that name, so disastrous to the Americans, occurred. It was there that La Fayetto greatly distinguished himself, and was severely wounded.
EORGE Read was born in Cecil county,
in the Province of Maryland, in the 211
year 1734, and was the eldest of six brothers. He was of Irish descent. His grandfather was a wealthy resi
dent of Dublin, bis native city, and his father emigrated to America from Ireland, about 1726. George was placed in a school of considerable repute at Chester, in Pennsylvania, where he made much progress in Latin and Greek, his father having previously instructed
him in all the common branches of a good English education. He was afterward placed under the care of the Reverend Doctor Allison, who at various times had charge of several pupils, who were afterward members of the Continental Congress, or held other high official stations.
At the age of seventeen years young Read commenced the study of the law in the office of John Morland, a distinguished barrister of Philadelphia. He was very studious, and during his pupilage in the profession, he possessed the entire confidence of his instructor, who also became his warm friend. He was admitted to the bar in 1753, at the early age of nineteen years, and then commenced a career of honor and usefulness to himself and others.* In 1754, he settled in the county of New Castle, Delaware, and commenced the practice of his profession. Although competitors of eminence were all around him, Mr. Read soon rose to their level, and at the age of twenty-nine, he succeeded John Ross, as Attorney General for the “ lower counties on the Delaware” of Kent, Sussex and New Castle. This office he held until elected a delegate to the Continental Congress, in 1774.
In 1765 Mr. Read was elected a member of the General Assembly of Delaware, and was re-elected to the office eleven consecutive years. He was one of a committee of that body, who, in view of the odious features. of the Stamp Act, proposed an address to the King in behalf of the people of the Province. Mr. Read clearly perceived however, that remonstrances from isolated Colo
* We cannot pass unnoticed an act of noble generosity which marked his initial step in his profession. As soon as he was admitted to the bar a practising attor. ney, he voluntarily released, by deed, all the legal right which he had in the estate of his father, in behalf of the rest of the children; alleging that he had received his share in full in the expenses of his education, and that he conecientiously believed that it would be a fraud upon the others, if he should claim an equal share with them in the final division.
† He was married in 1763 to the accomplished and pious daughter of the Rev. erend Georgi Ross, the pastor of a Church in New Castle, and a relative of the Attorney General.
nies would have but little effect, and he was one of those patriots of prudence and sound judgment, who looked to a general Convention of representatives of the several Colonies, as the surest means through which the sense of justice in the home government could be reached. He also heartily approved of the system of non-importation agreements, and by assiduous labor, he succeeded in engaging the people of Delaware in the measure.
When the sufferings of the people of Boston, from the effects of the Act of Parliament known as the “ Boston Port Bill,""* excited the warmest sympathy throughout the Colonies, and subscriptions for their relief were everywhere made — Mr. Read, with Nicholas Van Dyke, was made the channel of transmission of the donations of the people of Delaware, and he was exceedingly active himself in procuring pecuniary and other aid.
In 1774, Mr. Read, with Cæsar Rodney and Thomas MÖKean for colleagues, was appointed by the Assembly of Delaware, a delegate to the General Congress that met in September of that year, at Philadelphia. He was a delegate also in 1775 and 1776, and during the early part of the latter year, his labors were divided between his duties in Congress, and the affairs of his own State. He
* On the thirty-first of March, 1774, the British Parliament passed an act for the punishment of the people of Boston for the destruction of tea in the harbor, on the sixteenth of December previous. It provided for the virtual and actual clos. ing of the port. All importations and exportations were forbidden, and vessels were prohibited from entering or leaving that port. The Customs, Courts of Jus. tice, and all government offices, were removed to Salem; and on the arrival of Governor Gage, a few days before the first of June (the time the act was to take effect), he called a meeting of the General Assembly of Massachusetts at Sa. lem. Thus all business was suddenly crushed in Boston, and the inhabitants were reduced to great misery, overawed as they were by large bodies of armed troops. The people of the ( olonies deeply sympathized with them, and lent them generous aid. And, strange as it may appear, the city of London subscribed one hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the poor of Boston !
+ When, in 1777. soon after the battle of Brandywine, Governor M'Kinley, the President of the State, was taken prisoner by the British, Mr. Read, who was Vice President, was obliged to perform his duties. He discharged them with fidelity, and at the same time he was active in the Committee of Safety. On one or two
was an earnest advocate for the Declaration of Independence, and considered it a high privilege when he placed his name upon the parchment. After the Declaration, the people of Delaware formed a State Constitution, and Mr. Read was President of the Convention that framed the instrument.
His arduous duties at length affected his health, and in August, 1779, he resigned his seat in the Assembly of Delaware. He was re-elected, however, the next year. In 1782, he was appointed one of the Judges of the Court of Appeals in Admiralty cases, and he retained the office until that tribunal was abolished. In 1785, Mr. Read was appointed by Congress one of the Justices of a special Court to adjudicate in a case of dispute about territory between Massachusetts and New York. In 1786, he was a member of the Convention that met at Annapolis, in Maryland, to consider and repair the defects in the Articles of Confederation. This Convention was the egg of the one, which, in the following year, framed the Federal Constitution. In 1788, he was elected a member of the Senate of Delaware, under the new Constitution, and he occupied a seat there until 1793, when he was elevated to the bench, as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of his State. He occupied that station until the autumn of 1798, when death, by sudden illness, closed his useful life, in the sixty-fourth year of his age.
occasions he murched with the militia, musket in hand, to repel invasion. On his return to Delaware at the time Governor M'Kinley was made prisoner, Mr. Read and his whole family narrowly escaped the same fate. His family were with him in Philadelphia, and he was obliged to pass down the Jersey side of the Delaware, and cross at a place where the river is five miles wide. He procured a boat and proceeded within eight of the ships of the enemy. Before reaching the shore the boat grounded, and, being perceived from one of the British vessels, a skiff was sent in pursuit. Mr. Read had time to efface every mark from his baggage that might identify him, and so completely did he deceive the inmates of the skiff, by representing himself as a country gentleman just returning from an excursion with his family, that his pursuers kindly assisted in landing the ladies and the children, and in getting his boat ashore.