Joseph Borden

August 1, 1719–April 8, 1791

Joseph Borden was a politician, law enforcement officer, soldier, and judge from New Jersey. He participated in the Stamp Act Congress in 1765.

Early Life of Joseph Borden

  • Borden was born on August 1, 1719, in Farnsworth Landing, New Jersey (later called Bordentown).
  • His father was Joseph Borden and his mother’s name was Ann.


Professional Career

  • Borden worked on a boat and stage line that ran from New York to Philadelphia, which his father owned.

Political Career

  • In 1749, he was appointed Justice of the Peace.
  • In 1757, he was appointed as a Judge.
  • In 1761, he was elected to the New Jersey Assembly to represent Burlington County.
  • In 1765, he represented New Jersey at the Stamp Act Congress.
  • In 1767, he was appointed as a Judge again.
  • On July 2, 1774, he was elected to the First Provincial Congress of New Jersey.
  • In 1776, he was elected as a Judge to the Court of Common Pleas.
  • In 1781, he was elected again as a Judge to the Court of Common Pleas.

Military Career

  • In 1776, Borden was commissioned as a Colonel in the New Jersey Militia.
  • Later that year, he resigned to take the position of Quartermaster.

Delegate to the Stamp Act Congress

On March 22, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which required a stamp to be placed on all legal documents and many printed materials in the colonies.

In May, news of the new law reached the colonies. There was immediate opposition, including riots in Boston, Massachusetts, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Savannah, Georgia.

On June 8, 1765, the Massachusetts Assembly sent a circular letter to the legislatures of the other colonies, inviting them to send delegates to a congress in New York to discuss a unified response to the Stamp Act. The precedent for such a meeting had been set by the Albany Congress in 1754.

Nine of the 13 colonies, including New Jersey, chose to send delegates to the meeting, which was held in New York City. Borden was elected as a delegate from New Jersey, along with Hendrick Fisher and Robert Ogden.

The Stamp Act Congress convened on October 7, 1765. On October 19, the Stamp Act Congress issued a Declaration of Rights and Grievances.  Congress sent petitions to the King and both houses of Parliament and asked for the Stamp Act to be repealed.

Borden signed his name to the official documents of the Stamp Act Congress.

On November 1, 1765, the Stamp Act took effect, but there were no stamp masters available to distribute the stamps. They had resigned or refused to perform their job due to violence and intimidation against them.

On March 18, 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, primarily due to protests from British merchants who believed it would damage their prospects of doing business in the colonies. However, on that same day, Parliament passed the Declaratory Act, which declared it had the “full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.”

The Battle of the Kegs

In January 1778, Borden was involved in a plan to blow up British ships on the Delaware River, near Philadelphia. The plan called for loading kegs with explosives and floating them down the river. The kegs were designed by David Bushnell, who invented the American Torpedo, to explode on contact. As the kegs floated toward the British ships, they were spotted and the British opened fire on them. The incident was memorialized by Francis Hopkinson in the poem, “The Battle of the Kegs.”

Death of Joseph Borden

  • Borden died on April 8, 1791.
  • He was buried at Christ Church Episcopal Cemetery in Bordentown.

Significance of Joseph Borden

Joseph Borden is important because he participated in the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. He was involved in the Battle of the Kegs during the American Revolutionary War.