top of page

George Read: Signing the Declaration Once, but the Constitution Twice

George Read, an influential figure in American history, left an indelible mark on the nation's founding by signing both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Born in 1733 into a family of Irish and Welsh immigrants in Maryland, Read's journey to becoming a founding father began in Delaware, where he would shape the course of American politics.

Early Life and Education

Educated in Pennsylvania, Read studied law and was admitted to the Philadelphia Bar at the remarkably young age of 20. However, his heart remained in Delaware, and he returned in 1754 to embark on a career that would define the nation's future.

A Statesman Emerges

As attorney general in the colonial government from 1763 to 1774, Read emerged as a voice of reason and moderation, opposing the Stamp Act despite his reputation as a moderate. His dedication to the principles of liberty and self-governance laid the groundwork for his later involvement in the fight for independence.

The Dual Loyalties of 1776

As a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1776, Read faced a momentous decision: whether to embrace independence or pursue reconciliation with Britain. Initially hesitant to endorse complete separation, Read found himself deadlocked with Thomas McKean in their support for independence. Caesar Rodney's decisive vote tipped the scales, allowing Read to affix his signature to the Declaration of Independence.

A Champion of Constitutional Reform

Read's commitment to shaping American governance continued after independence. As a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, he played a central role in crafting the United States Constitution. His dual signing of this foundational document, once for himself and once for his ailing colleague John Dickinson, underscores his unwavering dedication to the principles of liberty and democracy.

Legacy and Lasting Impact

Beyond his dual signatures, George Read's legacy is one of legal acumen and moral integrity. His leadership guided Delaware and the nation through its formative years, setting a standard of public service that endures to this day. His commitment to a more perfect union serves as an enduring testament to the ideals upon which the United States was founded.

In George Read, we find a symbol of the American spirit: a man who signed the Declaration of Independence once and the Constitution twice. His actions remind us that the course of history is shaped by individuals who dare to dream of a better tomorrow and who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of liberty and justice for all. George Read's legacy continues to inspire generations of Americans to uphold the principles of freedom and democracy for which he so passionately fought.

Submitted by Raymond E. Foster


bottom of page