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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Joseph Reed

REED, Joseph, statesman, born in Trenton, New Jersey, 27 August, 1741; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 5 March, 1785. He was graduated at Princeton in 1757, and then studying law with Robert Stockton, was admitted to the bar in 1763, after which he spent two years as a law student in the Middle Temple, London. On his return in 1765 he followed his profession in Trenton, and in 1767 was appointed deputy secretary of New Jersey, but in 1770 he went again to England, where he married Esther De Berdt, daughter of Dennis De Berdt (q. v.), agent of Massachusetts. He returned to this country in October, and settled in Philadelphia, where he followed his profession with success. He took an ac-tire part in the popular movements in Pennsylvania, was confidential correspondent of Lord Dartmouth, who was then colonial secretary, and strove to persuade the ministry to measures of moderation. He was appointed a member of the committee of correspondence for Philadelphia in November, 1774, and in January, 1775, was president of the 2d Provincial congress. On the formation of the Pennsylvania associated militia after the battle of Lexington, he was chosen lieutenant-colonel, and, when George Washington was appointed to the command of the American forces, Mr. Reed left his practice in Philadelphia to become Gem Washington's military secretary. As he had been educated to the orderly and methodical transaction of business, and was a ready writer, there is no doubt that the opening of books of record, preparing forms, directing correspondence, composing legal and state papers, and establishing the general rules and etiquette of headquarters, can be traced principally to him. In October, 1775, he returned to Philadelphia, and in January, 1776, he was chosen member of the assembly, although at the time he was acting chairman of the committee of safety. He was appointed on 5 June adjutant-general of the American army, with the rank of colonel, and was exceedingly active in the campaign that terminated with the battle of Long Island. Admiral Howe, who reached New York in July, 1776, was charged, as special commissioner, with opening negotiations with the Americans, and under a flag" Old truce a meeting took place, at which Colonel Reed represented General Washington, but, the communication from the British admiral being addressed to " George Washington, Esquire," he declined to receive it. In 1777, on Washington's solicitation, he was appointed brigadier-general and tendered command of all tile American cavalry, and meanwhile, on 20 March, 1777, he was appointed first chief justice of Pennsylvania under the new constitution; but he declined both of these offices, preferring to remain attached to Washington's headquarters as a volunteer aide without rank or pay, in which capacity he served with credit at the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. In September, 1777, he was elected to the Continental congress, but continued with the army and was again chosen in December. He declined the commissionership of Indian affairs in November, 1778, but accepted the chairmanship of a committee to confer with Washington concerning the management of the ensuing campaign, to concert measures for the greatest efficiency of the army. The city of Philadelphia, in October, 1777, elected him to the assembly, and the county made him a member of the council; but he declined the former election. In December, 1778, he was chosen president of the supreme executive council of Pennsylvania, and he was continued in that office for three years. During his administration he aided in founding the University of Pennsylvania, and favored the gradual abolition of slavery and the doing away with the proprietary powers of the Penn family. While Benedict Arnold (q. v.) was in command of Philadelphia, after the evacuation by the British, he was led into extravagances that resulted in his being tried by court-martial. In the presentation of the charges Governor Reed, as president of the council, took an active part, and so incurred the odium of the friends of Arnold. After the failure of the British peace commissioners to treat with congress, attempts were made to bribe high officials, and, among others, Governor Reed was approached and offered £10,000, together with any office in the colonies in his majesty's gift. His reply was: "I am not worth purchasing, but, such as I am, the king of Great Britain is not rich enough to do it." In 1780 he was invested with extraordinary powers, and largely through his influence the disaffection of the Pennsylvania line in the army was suppressed, he resumed the practice of his profession in 1781, and was appointed by congress one of the commission to settle the dispute between the states of Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Failing health led to his visiting England in 1784, hoping that a, sea-voyage would restore him ; but he returned in a few months, and died soon afterward. Meanwhile he had been chosen to congress, but he never took his seat. Governor Reed was charged with meditating a treacherous abandonment of the American cause, and a determination to go over to the British, and George Bancroft in his history introduced the statement on what appeared to be reliable testimony. A bitter controversy ensued, in which William B. Reed (q. v.) took part, and it, was ultimately shown that he had been confounded with Colonel Charles Read (q. v.). He published "Remarks on Governor Johnstone's Speech in Parliament" (Philadelphia, 1779), and "Remarks on a Late Publication in the 'Independent Gazetteer, ' with an Address to tile People of Pennsylvania" (1783). The latter elicited "A Reply" by John Cadwalader. See "Life of Joseph Reed," by Henry Reed, in Sparks's "American Biography" (Boston, 1846), and "Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed." by his grandson, William B. Reed (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1847).--It is wife, Esther De Berdt, born in London, 22 October, 1746: died in Philadelphia, 18 September, 1780, became acquainted with Mr. Reed when he was a law student in London, and soon after the death of her father married him in London in May, 1770. After the evacuation of Philadelphia she was chosen president of a society of ladies in that city who united for the purpose of collecting, by voluntary subscription, additional supplies in money and clothing for the army, which was then in great destitution. In a letter to General Washington she writes: "The amount of the subscription is , $200,580, and £625 6s. 8d. in specie, which makes in the whole, in paper money, , $300, -634." Many of her letters to her husband and her correspondence with General Washington are given in the life of Joseph Reed mentioned above. See also " The Life of Esther De Berdt, afterward Esther Reed of Pennsylvania" (1853).--Their son, Joseph, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 11 July, 1772" died there, 4 March, 1846, was graduated at Princeton in 1792, and then studied law. From 1800 till 1809 he was a prothonotary of the supreme court, and then attorney-general of Pennsylvania in 1810-'11. He became recorder of the city of Philadelphia in 1810, continuing in that office till 1829, and published "The Laws of Pennsylvania" (, 5 vols., Philadelphia, 1822-'4).--The second Joseph's son, William Bradford, lawyer, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 30 June, 1806; died in New York city, 18 February, 1876, was graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1825, and then accompanied Joel R. Poinsett to Mexico as his private secretary. On his return he studied law and practised with such success that, in 1838, he was elected attorney-general of Pennsylvania. In 1850 he was appointed professor of American history at the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1857 he became minister to China, in which capacity he negotiated the important treaty of June, 1858, that secured to the United States all the advantages that had been acquired by the allies from the Chinese. Mr. Reed for a long time was the most brilliant and effective of the ant agonists of the Democratic party in Pennsylvania, but on the nomination of James Buchanan he became his firm friend and supporter, even entering heartily into the extreme views of those who sympathized with the south, and on his return to this country in 1860 he continued to act with the Democratic party. Subsequently he settled in New York, became a regular contributor to the press of that city, and for a time was American correspondent of the London " Times." Mr. Reed was a prolific writer, and, besides contributions to " The American Quarterly Review" and " The North American Review," he was the author of numerous orations, addresses, and controversial pamphlets on historical subjects. Among the latter were several relating to his grandfather, President Joseph Reed, whose reputation was assailed by George Bancroft. These included "President Reed of Pennsylvania, a Reply to George Bancroft and Others" (Philadelphia, 1867), to which Mr. Bancroft responded with "Joseph Reed, an Historical Essay" (New York, 1867)" and "A Rejoinder to Mr. Bancroft's Historical Essay " (Philadelphia, 1867). Besides editing the posthumous works of his brother, Henry (q. v, .), he published "Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed," which, according to Chancellor Kent, is "a most interesting and admirable history of one of the ablest and purest patriots of the I{evolution" (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1847), and" Life of Esther De Berdt, afterward Esther Reed "(1853).--William Bradford's brother, Henry, author, born in Philadelphia, 11 July, 1808" (t. at sea, 27 September, 1854, was graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1825, read law, and in 1829 was admitted to the bar in Philadelphia. In 1831 he was elected assistant professor of English literature in the University of Pennsylvania and abandoned the legal profession. The satire year he became assistant professor of moral philosophy, an, 1 in 1835 he was made professor of rhetoric mid English literature, He served the university until 1854, when he visited Europe. In September he embarked from Liverpool for home in the steamship "Arctic," in which he was lost at sea. He was a member of the American philosophical society and a vice-provost of the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1846 received the degree of LL.D. from the University of Vermont. He was early brought into communication with the poet Wordsworth, and assisted in the supervision and arrangement of an American edition of his poems (Philadelphia, 1837). He was the author of the preface to this work, and an elaborate article on Wordsworth in the " New York Review" (1839). After the death of the poet he superintended the publication of the American edition of the memoirs by Dr. Christopher Wordsworth (2 vols., Boston, 1851). He prepared an edition of Alexander Reid's "Dictionary of the English Language" (New York, 1845), and George P. Graham's " English Synonyms," with an introduction and illustrative authorities (1847), and edited American reprints of Thomas Arnold's "Lectures on Modern History" (1845)" Lord Mahon's " History of England from the Peace of Utrecht to the Peace of Paris" (2 vols., 1849)-and the poetical works of Thomas Gray, for which he prepared a new memoir (Philadelphia, 1850). He delivered two "Lectures upon the American Union " before the Smithsonian institution (1857), and several addresses at various times before other bodies, He wrote a life of his grandfather, Joseph Reed, in Sparks's " American Biography." His chief compositions were several courses of lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, of which collections have been published since his death by his brother, William B. Reed, with the titles " Lectures of English Literature, from Chaucer to Tennyson" (Philadelphia, 1855); "Lectures on English History and Tragic Poetry, as Illustrated by Shakespeare," to which is prefixed a biographical sketch (1855); " Lectures on the History of the American Union" (1856) ; and "Lectures on the British Poets" (2 vols., 1857).--Henry's son, Henry, author, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 22 September, 1846, was graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1865, read law, and was admitted to the Philadelphia bar in 1869. In November, 1886, he was appointed a judge of the court of common pleas in Philadelphia, and in 1887 was elected to the office for a term of years, He is the author of a work on the "Statute of Frauds" (3 vols., 1884), and has published numerous articles on legal subjects. He translated "The Daughter of an Egyptian King'," by George Ebers (Philadelphia, 1875).

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