Francis Hopkinson was a native of Pennsylvania, born in Philadelphia in 1737. His father, Thomas Hopkinson, was an Englishman, who emigrated to America. Thomas Hopkinson married the niece of the bishop of Worcester. On his arrival in America, he lived in Philadelphia, where he served in several royal offices. Thomas Hopkinson was distinguished for his scientific attainments. His close friend was Benjamin Franklin. Unfortunately, Thomas Hopkinson died a premature death.
Francis Hopkinson’s mother raised her family as a single mother. As a single mother, her income was very small. However, she made many sacrifices to ensure that Francis succeed. She lived to see him graduate from the College of Philadelphia with honors and enter the law profession.
In 1766, Hopkinson sailed for England to visit the land of his father. After two years, he returned to America and married Miss Borden. They settled in New Jersey where Hopkinson served as the Collector of Customs and as an executive counselor for the royal government.
When colonial resentment against the royal government arose, Hopkinson sided with his country and resigned his royal appointments. In 1776, New Jersey appointed him and others to represent them in the Continental Congress. Hopkinson added his vote for independence and signed the Declaration of Independence.
In 1779, Pennsylvania appointed Hopkinson as the judge of the admiralty court of Pennsylvania. Hopkinson served in this capacity for ten years until the organization of the federal government. After the ratification of the Constitution, General Washington appointed Hopkinson to the office of Judge of the United States, for the district of Pennsylvania.
Throughout his judicial career, Hopkinson carefully avoided mingling in party politics. He often used satire to diffuse angry emotions. Hopkinson published several poems. His poems were designed to amuse. His most popular and humorous poem was “The Battle of the Kegs.”
Unfortunately, Francis Hopkinson died suddenly in 1791 at the age of fifty-three. He left a widow and five children.