About Richard Peters
Richard Peters (June 22, 1744 – August 22, 1828) sometimes Richard Peters, Jr., to distinguish from his uncle, though this can also mean his son Richard), was an American lawyer, jurist, and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a delegate for Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress in 1782 and 1783. For many years he was a United States federal judge for Pennsylvania.
Richard was the son of William Peters (1702–1786), who came from Liverpool, England to Philadelphia in 1739. He was named for his uncle, Richard Peters (1704–1776), rector of Christ Church in Philadelphia. Richard was born on his father's newly acquired country estate, named Belmont, then just outside of Philadelphia. William was a large landowner with rental properties in both America and England, had a successful law practice in Philadelphia, and was a judge in the court of common pleas.
Young Richard was educated at home and then attended the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania). He graduated in 1761, and then read law to be admitted to the bar in 1763. He built a successful practice in Philadelphia. He also held a number of government posts under the colonial government, including Admiralty Register of Philadelphia, from 1771 to 1776.
Revolutionary War years
Unlike many of Philadelphia's lawyers as the Revolution became imminent, Peters sided with the Whig or American cause. A week after the Continental Congress created the Continental Army, they appointed him as the Secretary to their Board of War. Later his position title was changed to Commissioner of the Board of War. He held this post with honor throughout the active phase of the Revolutionary War. When he resigned in 1781, Congress passed a declaration to thank him for "long and faithful service".
He was a good friend and benefactor of Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, Inspector-General and trainer of the army, often paying his expenses and allowing him and his staff to stay at the family estate, Belmont. It was there in early 1779 that the Blue Book was written and became the first military manual of the United States Army.
Legislative and judicial service
In 1782, he was back with the Congress, this time as a delegate for Pennsylvania. He served in the Congress until 1783.
In 1785 he visited England. With the war over, he was seeking a continuance or reconciliation for the Anglican Church in America. His meetings with John Moore, Archbishop of Canterbury, ultimately bore fruit. The English hierarchy agreed to a formal separation. In 1786 Parliament passed the Act for the Consecration of Bishops Abroad, and on February 14, 1787 the church consecrated bishops from Philadelphia and New York in what became the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
In 1786 he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, where he served from 1787 to 1790. He was the Speaker of the House from 1788 onward. In 1791 he entered the Pennsylvania State Senate but served only a year.
On January 12, 1792, Peters was nominated by President George Washington to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Pennsylvania, vacated by William Lewis. Peters was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 13, 1792, and received his commission immediately. He was a party in the Supreme Court cases, United States v. Richard Peters, District Judge, and United States v. Peters On April 20, 1818, the District of Pennsylvania was subdivided, and he was reassigned by operation of law to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which post he held post until his death. His court held sessions in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. During his service on the court, he published Admiralty Decisions in the United States District Court of Pennsylvania (two volumes, 1807).
Death and legacy
Peters died at home in 1828 and is buried in St. Peter's Churchyard Cemetery in Philadelphia. His home, known as "Belmont Mansion", still stands and is open as a museum. It is located at 2000 Belmont Mansion Drive in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park.
His son Richard became a founder of Atlanta, Georgia. That Richard's son, and this Richard's great-grandson, Edward C. Peters, bought and then sold off for development the land that is now the southern half of Midtown Atlanta.