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The Religious Affiliation of
George Read
a Signer of the American Declaration of Independence,
a signer of the U.S. Constitution,
and a Senator in the First U.S. Federal Congress (1789-1791)


George Read is regarded as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was a delegate from Delaware.

George Read was also a signer of the U.S. Constitution. (In fact, he is the only person who signed the Constitution twice: Read's friend and fellow delegate John Dickinson took ill and could not be present for the signing, and Read was the authorized person who signed for him.)

George Read was an Episcopalian.

He was identified as an Episcopalian by: the Library of Congress; A Worthy Company: Brief Lives of the Framers of the United States Constitution by M. E. Bradford; and A History of Delaware Through its Governors 1776-1984 by Roger A. Martin. (Source: Ian Dorion, "Table of the Religious Affiliations of American Founders", 1997).

The maternal grandfather of Declaration of Independence signer George Read was an esteemed clergyman. From: B. J. Lossing, Signers of the Declaration of Independence, George F. Cooledge & Brother: New York (1848) [reprinted in Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, WallBuilder Press: Aledo, Texas (1995)], pages 137-138:

George Read was born in Cecil county, in the Province of Maryland, in the year 1734, and was the eldest of six brothers. He was of Irish descent. His grandfather was a wealthy resident of Dublin, his 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.

...In 1754, [George Read] 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...

He was married in 1763 to the accomplished and pious daughter of the Reverend George Ross, the pastor of a Church in New Castle, and a relative of the Attorney General.

From: Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Constitution: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Constitution, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1976), pages 206-208:
Conservative lawyer-jurist George Read attained many State offices and signed both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. At the Convention, he naturally defended the rights of small States. Later, he served as a Senator in the First Congress and ended his career as the chief justice of Delaware.

...In the U.S. Senate (1789-93), Read's attendance was again spasmodic, but when present he allied with the Federalists. He resigned to accept the post of chief justice of Delaware. He held it until his death at New Castle 5 years later, just 3 days after he celebrated his 65th birthday. His grave is located there in the Immanuel Episcopal Churchyard.

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Portrait: from Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Declaration: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1975).

Webpage created 13 November 2005. Last modified 20 November 2005.

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