Joseph Borden Full Biography

I was born August 1, 1719 into the family of Joseph and Ann Borden who had settled in 1717 at a site my father renamed Borden’s Towne on the Delaware River opposite William Penn’s Pennsbury. I married Elizabeth Rogers in 1750 and worked with my father’s boat and stage line connecting New York and Philadelphia.

When Parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765, I was chosen to represent New Jersey at the Stamp Act Congress in New York in October. We issued, and I signed, a Declaration of Rights and Grievances clearly stating our belief that Parliament had no right to tax us because we did not have representatives in that body. The slogan of “no taxation without representation” became the rallying cry of our protests that ultimately led to declaring independence. In the 1770s, I served in several political capacities supporting the Revolution and served the military first as a militia colonel and then as quartermaster and loan officer.

I was also involved in a plan to blow up British warships on the Delaware River by floating explosive wooden kegs down the river among them. While our plan did not succeed, it did lead to a song, called “The Battle of the Kegs,” mocking the fear it inspired in the British. It also led to the British destroying my home and business buildings on a raid in May 1778. I continued to serve throughout the war and lived in Bordentown in my rebuilt house until my death in 1791.


Wallace, John William, An Old Philadelphian, Colonel William Bradford: The Patriot Printer of 1776; Sketches of His Life, Philadelphia: Sherman & Co., 1884, Pages 284-286.

Lundeberg, Philip K., Samuel Colt’s Submarine Battery: The Secret and the Enigma, Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1974, pages 2-3

For more about the burning of his house and buildings in May 1778 see:New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, August 24, 1778, p1 and Pennsylvania Packet, May 23, 1778, page 4.

See New-Jersey Gazette, July 5, 1780, Vol III, page 3 for Mrs. Borden serving on committee of women soliciting funds for the Continental Army.

Visit the Bordentown Historical Society website: