Francis Hopkinson


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Hopkinson, FRANCIS, signer of the Declaration of Independence; born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 21, 1737; graduated at Princeton in 1763, and in 1765 was admitted to the bar. His republican principles caused his removal from a lucrative office in New Jersey. He was a member of Congress in 1776-77, and was distinguished during the Revolution by political and satirical writings. His best known is The Battle of the Kegs. He was judge of admiralty for ten years -1779 89, and United States district judge from 1790 till his death. He died in Philadelphia May 9, 1791.

In January, 1778, while the channel of the Delaware River was nearly free of ice, some Whigs at Bordentown, N. J., sent floating down the stream some torpedoes in the form of kegs filled with gunpowder, and so arranged with machinery that on rubbing against an object they would explode. It was hoped that some of these torpedoes might touch a British war-vessel, explode and sink her. One of them, touching a piece of floating ice in front of the city, blew up, and created intense alarm. For twenty-four hours afterwards not a thing was seen floating on the bosom of the river without being fired at by musket or cannon. This event greatly amused the Americans, and Hopkinson wrote a satirical poem entitled the Battle of the Kegs.



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