SINCE the provincial secretary served also as clerk of the council, Read already had the benefit of several years' experience with the legislative branch of government when Belcher became governor. Familiar with political procedure, acquainted with the political leaders, he was able to give the governor valuable counsel on questions of legislation. After Belcher had dissolved the Seventeenth Assembly in 1751, it is a fair assumption that he prevailed upon Read to become a candidate for the new assembly which was about to be chosen. Read was elected, and when the Eighteenth Assembly convened at Perth Amboy, May 20, 1751, he took his seat as "the gentleman from Burlington." It was probably no accident that, even though this was his first term in the assembly, he was selected for the post of speaker, where he would be best able to control the body.
The principal issue before the new assembly, which was slightly more conservative than its predecessor, was whether or not it should persist in trying to tax the proprietors' unimproved lands. The day after the opening Governor Belcher delivered an earnest message to the assembly, pointing out the "Distressing Circumstances" caused by "an Empty Treasury for near two years past," and urging that measures be taken for the payment of the debts of the province and the support of the government. "Private people are obliged, by the Law of the land, to pay their Debts one to Another," he argued, whereas "the Creditors of the Province have been left without Remedy, and for no Other Cause but from the Difference in Opinion between his Majesty's Council and the Late House of Assembly."1
Under Read's leadership the assembly began to function, and within two weeks had passed a bill "for the support of the____________________