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might be valuable for the history of Delaware yet to be written. Opinions of men, of measures, of events, and on questions which claimed consideration, have been expressed in this book, the author will not dare to assert without error, but, where he has erred, without intentional injustice. The meagre sketch in the "Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence" has been expanded to this volume, which, with this necessary preface, is submitted to the public.


November 15th, 1870.





Mr. Read's birth-Account of his parents-Their removal from Maryland to Delaware-His education-His school-fellows-Dr. Allison-He commences the study of the law—Mr. Moland-His confidence in Mr. Read-Mr Read's admission to the bar-His letter to his parents as to his settlement-Relinquishes his right to a double portion of his father's estate-The law as to double portion -Settles in New Castle, and practises in the three lower counties on Delaware, and one or more in Pennsylvania-His competitors-Succeeds John Ross as Attorney-General-Resigns attorney-generalship in 1774-Eminen as a special pleader-His influence great-His almanacs and bets-Letter from John Dickinson to Mr. Read-Notice of John Dickinson's first speech, and of Galloway's reply thereto, and of the prefaces to these speeches-Mr. Read's narriage, and notice of Mrs. Read-Mr. Dickinson's congratulatory letter to him on his marriage-Mr. Read elected to the General Assembly of Delaware-Applies for the office of collector of New Castle, and fails to receive it-His letters and those of Franklin-Letters of Mr. Neave on the troubles of the mother-country and her colonies, and part of rough draft of a letter of Mr. Read in reply-Letter of Mr. Wharton-Mr. Read's farm-Colonel Bedford-His marriage with Mr. Read's sister-Colonel Read-Mr. Read advocates the observance of the Sabbath -His rules to preserve health-Result of election in 1769-Colonial lotteries, and remarks on the subject of lotteries-Correspondence of Mr. Read with his brothers-Notice of Captain Thomas Read-Frigate Alliance-Appendix A, notice of John Ross-Appendix B, roll of militia company, 1757-Appendix C, notice of Rev George Ross-Appendix D, notice of John Dickinson-Appendix E, Thomas Read.

GEORGE READ was born in Cecil County, in the Province of Maryland, September 18th, in the year 1733, and was the eldest of six brothers. His father, John Read, was the son of a wealthy citizen of Dublin, and having emigrated to America, settled in Cecil County, where he became a respectable planter. Soon after the birth of his eldest son he removed to New Castle County, in the Province of Delaware, and established himself on the head-waters of the Christiana River.

The parents of Mr. Read determined, at an early period, to confer such an education on their son as would enable

him to pursue one of the learned professions. The small number of schools was at that period a serious obstacle to the dissemination of knowledge. The nearest reputable seminary to the residence of Mr. Read's parents was at Chester, in the Province of Pennsylvania, where he was taught the rudiments of the learned languages. From this school he was removed to New London, in the same Province, and placed under the care of the Rev. Dr. Allison, a man eminently qualified for the arduous task of imparting instruction to youth. Deeply versed in the dead languages, his mind was free from the alloy too often mingled with the pure gold of classic lore; he explored the mazes of science, in solitary study, without being ignorant of the world, without despising the beauties of elegant literature, and without neglecting the decencies of society. His knowledge of human nature enabled him quickly to discern the bent of a pupil's genius, his master vice, and dominant foible.*

Among the fellow-pupils of Mr. Read were Charles Thomson, Secretary of Congress, Hugh Williamson, a member of that body from North Carolina, and Dr. Ewing, Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, eminent as a mathematician and astronomer. The meeting, in after-life, of the first three of these distinguished men must, under any circumstances, have been pleasing, but to meet, as it occurred in the present instance, in the American Congress of 1774, a body endued with Roman spirit and Roman virtue, and political knowledge such as no Roman ever attained, -to meet in that illustrious assembly the guardian of the rights of three millions of their fellow-men, must have been to them a source of deep-felt gratification.

Mr. Read diligently pursued his studies, under the care

* " 'Dr. Francis Allison was afterwards Vice-Provost and Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Pennsylvania, and justly entitled, from his talents, learning, and discipline, the Busby of the Western Hemisphere."- Hosack's Biographical Memoir of Hugh Williamson, in the Collections of the New York Historical Society, p. 131, vol. iii.

Volume iii. Collections of New York Historical Society, p. 132. So diligently, or rather ardently, that, as his sister, Mrs. Bedford, related, when his candle was taken from him at bedtime, he studied his grammar-lesson by fire-light.

of Dr. Allison, until his fifteenth year, at which early age he was removed from school, and, on the 28th day of September, 1749, commenced the study of the law with John Moland, Esquire, an eminent lawyer of the city of Philadelphia. An education terminated at so early a period of life, must, necessarily, have been incomplete; but the disadvantage of being forced into the world with, a scanty stock of knowledge was common to his contemporaries, who, having their bread to earn, because their parents had large families and moderate estates, entered on the study and practice of professions at ages which must have appeared to Europeans immature indeed. Mr. Read actively applied himself to the study of his profession. It required more intense application at that period than it does at present to qualify a young man for admission to the bar. The student was not then assisted by digests, abridgments, and excellent elementary treatises on every ramification of the law. The great toil which at that day was requisite to the attainment. of legal knowledge was best calculated to form habits on which were founded the most certain presages of eminence at the bar and erudition on the bench. Hence Mr. Read was conspicuous in after-life for research and accuracy, and the margins of almost every book in the extensive lawlibrary he possessed are covered with his notes, so true it is that the foundation of industrious habits is always laid in early life. The confidence reposed by Mr. Moland in the abilities, integrity, and steadiness of his young student was so great that long before his apprenticeship expired he intrusted him with his docket, and confided to him all his attorney's business. Indeed, the talents, industry, zeal, and uprightness of Mr. Read, while in the office of Mr. Moland, generated an attachment towards his pupil stronger and more permanent than the relation of lawyer and student usually produces. Mr. Moland in his will enjoined his family to consult Mr. Read on all occasions of difficulty, and to repose implicit confidence in his advice. John

* It may be inferred from the following letter that this injunction was obeyed:

SIR, I assure you, I seldom take a pen in my hand but it is to give some of my friends trouble. I have teased good Mr. Dickinson till he is weary of me; and now, to make a beginning with you, I send, inclosed, a parcel of notes of hand, to see if you can get the money [due

Dickinson was one of his fellow students, and the friendship contracted between the young men, nurtured by the reciprocation of good offices and growing conviction of each other's worth, was only interrupted by the death of Mr. Read, a few years anterior to the decease of the distinguished author of the "Farmers' Letters." In a letter to Messrs. Read and Wharton, without date, but written by Mr. Dickinson just before he embarked for England, whither he went to complete (in the "Temple") the study of the law, and while Mr. Read was yet in Mr. Moland's office, and therefore before or early in 1753, Mr. Dickinson takes a most affectionate leave of his late associates. He is evidently much excited and elated by the prospect of his voyage, and if passages of the letter be written with undue levity, his youth and, circumstanced as he was, almost unavoidable exhilaration may excuse it, and a warm and kindly feeling for Mr. Read and other friends pervades it, which exhibits him very advantageously. He begs to be remembered to Groves, Oldman, and other friends who may inquire for him, and especially to Mr. Moland and family; and in the postscript asks his friend to order the printer's boy to leave his paper with the "sheriff." I may be pardoned for a brief notice of this letter, as it is the first of the letters of this eminent man to Mr. Read found among his papers, and covering a period of more than forty years.

It appears from the following letter written by Mr. Read, at Philadelphia, to his parents, June 27th, 1753, that he had then been admitted to the bar:

"HONORED PARENTS,-In discoursing with Mr. Moland lately, I told him my intention [of] settling at New Castle, but he seemed to think it would be better staying here, and

upon them]. If my papa has received any money upon these notes, there will certainly be receipts to show such payments.

"I dare say, as Mr. Read has always professed a friendship for our family, he will be pleased to hear how we go on in this troublesome world, but I will leave that to Mr. Dickinson, and have no doubt but he will tell you. And now give me leave to join with mamma in wishing you many very happy years.


“GEORGE READ, Esquire, January 29th, 1762"

On the back of this letter is written, Miss Betsy Moland's letter, now Lady St. Clair."


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