Edward Biddle - Radicalizing Pennsylvania

Edward Biddle - Radicalizing Pennsylvania

Edward Biddle was one of the main drivers behind Pennsylvania's push toward revolution.  Unfortunately, his short life left him with little fanfare in history.

Continental Congress

Edward Biddle of Pennsylvania had made a name for himself serving in the French and Indian War.  For his service, he was awarded a substantial tract of land.  Biddle then found success as lawyer.

Biddle’s reputation grew quickly and by the age of 29 he was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly.

By the time of the First Continental Congress, Edward Biddle had established himself as one of the more radical leaders in his colony.  When Pennsylvania chose its delegates for this Congress, half were moderates and the other half more extreme.  Biddle was chosen as one of the representatives who were more eager to rebel.

Defeating Galloway

During the First Continental Congress, Edward Biddle was elected Speaker of the House of the Pennsylvania Assembly.  

He replaced Joseph Galloway, who just days beforehand had his Plan of Union defeated in the Continental Congress.  Pennsylvania wanted one of the supporters of the Suffolk Resolves to be their Speaker.

Sick But Revolting

In January 1775, Biddle fell overboard on the Schuylkill River on his way back to Philadelphia from his home in Reading.  He survived the fall but contracted an illness from which he would never fully recover.  

While the sickness slowed down his contribution to the Revolution, it did not end it.  

Biddle attended the opening session of the Second Continental Congress.  He signed the Olive Branch Petition, which was a last-ditch effort to come to an agreeable resolution with the King.

Biddle’s last revolutionary action was when he served on the committee in the Pennsylvania Assembly which drafted An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery.  This document was the first of it’s kind in the new United States and it put Pennsylvania on track for eliminating slavery on it’s soil.

Edward would not see the Act passed, however.  Nor would he see America free itself.  

The illness he caught on his way to Congress would catch up with him in 1779.  Biddle succumbed to the disease at just 41 years old.


There are no modern biographies of Edward Biddle, but you can find out more about the First Continental Congress in these books by our affiliate bookstore Amazon:


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