George Read - A New Delaware, A New Nation
George Read was an undercover Founding Father. He was present for many of the major political events in the American Revolution and his fingerprints were quietly scattered around the creation of the United States.
As Delaware Attorney General, George Read had been appointed by the King to uphold British laws in his colony. He had been splitting time between this duty and acting as a representative in the Provincial Assembly when, in 1774, he left for the First Continental Congress.
Although Read signed the Continental Association, he was still hesitant to totally separate from Britain. When the vote on Independence was taken, despite Delaware having already declared itself separate from the Mother Country, Read voted against.
He was risking everything, including his life.
Fortunately, the other two delegates from Delaware overrode his vote.
When the Declaration of Independence was signed, Read put his name to it. He was willing to comply with the majority of his collegues.
A New Legal System
Ignoring his hesitance, when Delaware created an independent government, the people made George Read the President of the convention which drafted a state constitution.
Read was then elected to the Delaware General Assembly. After the Governor was kidnapped by the British, Read replaced him until a new election could be held.
George would later be appointed as a Judge in the Court of Appeal in Cases of Capture. This was the first federal court system and Read was mostly responsible for determining if property taken during war could legally be kept.
George Read was sent by Delaware to the Constitutional Convention. He was a strong advocate of a national government, briefly recommending that the States be eliminated altogether to form one body. This idea was roundly criticized, and he quickly gave up on it.
Thereafter, Read promoted the interest of the small states, assuming that without equal representation they would be swallowed up by the Union.
Upon signing the U.S. Constitution, Read became one of the few Americans to sign three of the major documents of the Revolution (the other two being the Continental Association and Declaration of Independence).
George Read would go on to be elected as a Senator in the First United States Congress. During his second term he resigned to accept an appointment as Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court. He would hold this position for the rest of his life.
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