Author: Francis Hopkinson

American patriot Francis Hopkinson (1737–91) was born in Philadelphia and educated at what is today the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a member of the university’s first graduating class. In service to the English Crown, Hopkinson negotiated a treaty between the state of Delaware and several Iroquois tribes and was then appointed customs collector for the region. In 1774, he moved to New Jersey and became a member of the Provincial Council, a post he resigned shortly thereafter to serve as a representative at the Second Continental Congress. A fierce advocate of American independence, Hopkinson was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and later ratified the US Constitution. Following the war, President George Washington appointed Hopkinson judge of the US District Court in Pennsylvania. A prolific and gifted author, Hopkinson is best remembered for his work, “A Pretty Story,” a satirical commentary on King George III.

A Pretty Story

Francis Hopkinson

This allegory was written by the lawyer, statesman, and signer of the Declaration of Independence Francis Hopkinson (1737–91) under the pseudonym Peter Grievous and published in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1774, a year before the outbreak of fighting. It presents, by means of a homey, personal, and familial tale, an accessible—and perhaps unthreatening—account of the grievances that the colonists had with the English king and Parliament, growing from small beginnings and nourished by ordinary human desires and failings.