Francis Hopkinson gets help from his brother-in-law, Thomas McKean.
Although he was admitted to the bar and was collector of customs at the small port of Salem, N.J., in 1763, Hopkinson was restless and looking for other endeavors. He married Ann Borden in 1768 and they opened a store, an enterprise that was abandoned when he was appointed the royal collector...
Although he was admitted to the bar and was collector of customs at the small port of Salem, N.J., in 1763, Hopkinson was restless and looking for other endeavors. He married Ann Borden in 1768 and they opened a store, an enterprise that was abandoned when he was appointed the royal collector of customs at the port of Wilmington, Del., in 1772.
In this post he succeeded Thomas McKean, whose wife was the sister of Mrs. Hopkinson. It seems likely that the politically prominent McKean, who was assuming the position of Speaker of the Assembly of Delaware, helped arrange for his brother-in-law Hopkinson to take the prime post he was vacating.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 pages, Philadelphia, 1772, to Thomas McKean. “I have just time to beg the favor of you to send me 200 dollars if it should be convenient for you by any good opportunity within this fortnight or three weeks; they shall be paid in any way you may please to direct. My dear Nancy is very well, desires her love to you, her sister & the children. She is pestered with a crowd of company almost every afternoon. We propose visiting dear Bordentown next week for a few days. I cannot express the obligation I think myself under to you and Mrs. McKean for your many kindnesses and civilities, but I shall endeavor to show you the sense of them by my future conduct…P.S. I have mentioned $200 but $184 will do, whichever you please.”
Though we do not know the month of the letter, just the day and year, Hopkinson likely needed the funds to get established in his new position in the style that would have been commensurate with the office (he was now to oversee the large port of Wilmington).
This may have strained his resources, so he turned to his advocate and relative, McKean; for his part, McKean would have wanted Hopkinson to cut the right figure.
They could not have guessed at the time, but just a few years later, royal appointments and the burdens of keeping up with colonial social and political expectations would become irrelevant. When the Revolution broke out, both men were patriots and found themselves elected to serve their states (New Jersey for Hopkinson and Delaware for McKean) and country in the Continental Congress. There, in July 1776, they voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence.
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