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Signers of the Constitution
Richard Bassett (April 2, 1745 – September 15, 1815) (above) was born in Cecil County, Maryland, to Michael and Judith Bassett. His father however abandoned his family and a relative, Peter Lawson, adopted him. Between 1776 and 1786, Bassett served at the Delaware State Constitutional Convention, and as a member of both houses of the General Assembly. In 1786 he was a delegate to the Annapolis convention and the following year to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Bassett served as United States Senator from Delaware between 1789 – 1793. He would later serve as a judge and governor of the state. In 1797 he served as a presidential elector, voting for John Adams.
Bedford, Jr. (1747 – 1812) (above) was born in Philadelphia to Gunning and
Susannah (Jacquett) Bedford. He
studied law in Philadelphia and soon became a member of the bar. At about
the same time he married Jane Ballareau Parker.
Bedford would move to Delaware, first to Dover, then to Wilmington
and much later to a farm on the Brandywine.
He became a member of the State Legislature and Council and a
delegate to the Continental Congress from 1785 – 1786, and attended the
Annapolis Convention in 1786. In
1787 Bedford became a very outspoken member of the Constitutional
Convention in Philadelphia. During
the convention Bedford was an ardent proponent of the rights of the small
states, even suggesting at one point that the small states might seek
foreign alliances if they did not receive protection in the new
George Washington appointed him as a judge for the Delaware District Court
where he served until his death.
(picture of Jacob Broom not yet available)
John Dickinson (November 8, 1732 – February 14, 1808) (above) was born to Samuel Dickinson and his second wife Mary (Cadwalader) Dickinson. As a boy, Dickinson and his family moved to an estate near Dover, Delaware. In 1750, he began studying law in Philadelphia. In 1753 he went to London to continue his studies, and when he returned in 1757, he began his own law practice. In 1760 he was elected to the Assembly in Delaware and two years later served as a representative to the Pennsylvania Legislature. In 1765 he published a pamphlet The Late Regulations Respecting the British Colonies ...Considered, in which he argued the best way to get England to repeal their acts of taxation was through economic boycott. Dickinson was elected from Pennsylvania to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 and in 1768 published another pamphlet, Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies. In the pamphlet Dickinson argued against the policies of England and believed that force in resisting them might be required, but that reconciliation with England was still possible. While a member of the Continental Congress, it was Dickinson’s hope of reconciliation, which motivated him to author two separate petitions to King George III of England. Dickinson, as a representative from Pennsylvania, voted against the resolution for independence, however he would later support the cause of independence. He was elected to Congress from Delaware in 1779 and successively as president (governor) of Delaware and Pennsylvania between 1781-1785. Dickinson was a delegate from Delaware to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and strongly supported the Constitution, writing numerous public letters in its defense. On July 19, 1770 he married May Norris of Philadelphia.
George Read (September 18, 1733 – September
21, 1798) (above) was born in Cecil County, Maryland to John and Mary (Howell)
Read. Shortly after his birth
his family moved to New Castle, Delaware.
He attended school in Pennsylvania and studied law in Philadelphia,
being admitted to the bar in 1753. Read
practiced law in Delaware and Maryland and earned a reputation as an
honest lawyer. In 1763 he
married Gertrude (Ross) Till and together the couple had a daughter and
four sons. Read strongly opposed the British Acts of Taxation and in
1769, was prominent in securing a non-importation agreement against
Britain to protest the acts. As a member of the Continental Congress, Read
refused to vote for independence. But
when the resolution for independence passed, he not only signed, but also
supported the Declaration. Afterwards he was prominent in drafting the
Delaware State Constitution and active in state government, serving for
one period as president (governor) of Delaware.
Read was also a member of the 1787 Constitutional Convention.
During the Convention, Read spoke often in defense of the rights of
the small states. He was also
instrumental in getting Delaware to be the first state to ratify the new
Constitution. Read also
served as one of Delaware’s first United States Senators.
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