He was born in Delaware. He was elected to the Provincial Assembly where he served from 1756-1775. He was a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 and filled several offices successively in Pennsylvania, including Justice of the Peace, High Sheriff, Presiding Judge of the General Court and the Court of Common Pleas. He became Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 1774, and was elected to the Continental Congress, where he was chairman of the committee which reported the Articles of Confederation. He became President of the Provincial Assembly in 1775.