President Thomas Collins to the Convention December 4th
Gentlemen: In conformity to a resolution of the General Assembly of the 9th of November 1787, I do herewith transmit to your honorable body an authentic copy of the Federal Constitution for your assent and ratification. As it is a subject of the first magnitude, you will pay that attention thereto as it justly merits.
Also I transmit a resolution of the General Assembly of the 9th November 1787. Permit me gentlemen to call your attention to the 5th section thereof. And do as in your wisdom you may think meet in the premises.
Sussex County Petition to the Delaware Convention
To the honorable the Convention for the Delaware State, to be held at the town of Dover the twenty-third [i.e. third] day of December next.
The petition and remonstrance of diverse inhabitants of Sussex County most humbly showeth:
That your petitioners were notified by resolves of the two houses of the General Assembly, and published by their order, that the election for choosing persons to represent this county in said Convention was to be held on the 26th day of this instant at the old furnace usually called Vaughan Furnace. That in pursuance of the said resolves of the General Assembly, your petitioners intended to repair to the place of election for the purpose of electing persons to represent this county in said Convention; but they were alarmed on being informed that Rhoads Shankland, one of the persons chosen at said election to represent this county in the House of Assembly the ensuing year, had declared “there were cannon at the place” and that John Woolfe the coroner of the county had said “they were determined to carry the election or lose their lives,” and these two gentlemen being seen on the Sunday evening [25 November] preceding the election day, going towards the place at the head of a party of men armed with muskets, and further information of other bodies of armed men going to the place appointed for holding the election, your petitioners were apprehensive they could have no share in holding the said election without risking the effusion of human blood, rather that do which, most of them declined going. These apprehensions it appears were well founded, for some hundreds of them armed with muskets were paraded near the place of election on the day and made prisoners of some of your petitioners, by cocking a musket and threatening to shoot them, and then detaining them in custody till orders were procured from Nathaniel Mitchell, Esquire, who they said was their commanding officer, for their dismission. Thus by an armed and unlawful force have some hundreds of the freemen of the county been deprived of the right of free suffrage which by a law of this state, and by the fundamental principles of all republican governments, is declared to be the basis of the liberty of the people, and that the once cannot exist when the other is destroyed.
Your petitioners, impressed with a proper sense of the critical and important situation of public affairs at this time when the sense of all classes of citizens ought to be had on the Federal Constitution proposed by the Convention of the United States lately held at Philadelphia, and knowing that it cannot be considered as binding on them without their assent expressed either by themselves or their representative freely chosen, do hereby solemnly remonstrate against the legality of the election of those persons returned by the sheriff of this county to represent the same in said state Convention.
Your petitioners therefore, firmly relying on the wisdom and impartiality of your honorable body, humbly pray that you would be pleased to inquire into the truth of the facts stated in this petition and if they appear to be true that you would also be pleased to reject the sheriff’s return, and order a new election to be holden for the purpose of choosing persons to represent this country in your honorable body, that your petitioners may have an opportunity of exercising their right of free suffrage on so important an occasion as the present freely and without interruption.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, etc.
Timoleon: On the Convention’s Response to the Petitions
At a meeting of the state Convention, the Whigs of Sussex signified by a memorial what had happened without expressing any desire to incommode that body in ratifying the Federal Constitution, but merely as preparatory to their intended remonstrance against the election of representatives at the next meeting of the legislature. The Convention agreed that they had no powers to send for witnesses for a formal inquiry into the legality of the Sussex election; and that, if they had it would only be wasting time as all were agreed in ratifying the Federal Constitution; and it could be an object with nobody to set the election aside. The members returned from Sussex were therefore permitted to answer for their county, and the new Constitution was ratified by an unanimouse vote.
Convention Resolution Recommending Cession of Land for Federal Capital, 7 December
Delaware State Sst.
I Thomas Collins Esquire, President and Commander in Chief of The Deleware State, do certify, that among the Journals and Proceedings of the late Convention of the said State, assembled to deliberate & decide upon the New Constitution proposed for the Government of The United states, it is thus contained:
“In Convention of the Delaware State, Decemr. 7th. 1787
The Convention having taken into Consideration the Subject of Cession of Territory within this State for the Seat of the Federal Government, and the exclusive Legislation, in such Part of this State as Congress may think proper to make Choice of; and in Case the Congress shall fix the Seat of the Federal Government within this State, this Convention do hereby on Behalf of the People of this State, as far as in them lies, cede, and make over, to the Congress of The United States, the exclusive Legislation over such District of Territory, not exceeding Ten Miles square, for the Seat of the Government of The United States, wherever they may make Choice of the same within this State.
Resolved, That this Convention recommend to the Legislature of this State, that in Case of the Acceptance by Congress, of the Cession of Territory made by this Convention, any other or further Assurance should be necessary, in Order to carry the Intention of this Convention into Execution, as to the Cession
aforesaid, that the Legislature should take such Steps as their Wisdom may direct, for the Assuring and Confirming to Congress the Cession so made by this Convention.”–all which by the Tenor of these Presents, I have caused to be exemplified.–
In Testimony whereof I have hereunto Set my Hand and affixed by Seal, at Arms, at Kent County, this twenty Fourth Day of April–in the Year of Our Lord One thousand seven hundred and eighty eight.
Convention Resolution to Deliver Proceedings to President Thomas Collins, 7 December.
On Motion of, Mr. Johns seconded by Mr. Jones
Resolved, That Messrs. Sykes and Ridgely deliver to the President of the State, the proceedings of this Convention–