Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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DELAWARE, a state of the American Union, first settled by the Swedes, who bought from the Indians all the land from cape Henlopen to the great falls of the Delaware. It passed by conquest to the Dutch, who divided it into three counties which still exist. It was claimed by the duke of York, as part of the New Netherlands, and was by him enfeoffed for an annual rent to William Penn, Aug 24, 1682. Thereafter, until the revolution, governors were appointed by Penn and his heirs for Pennsylvania and the "Territories" on the Delaware together, the former by royal patent, the latter as the tenant of the duke of York. After 1710, however, Delaware had its own council. The territory seems rightfully to have fallen within the Maryland patent, and long continued disputes between lord Baltimore and the Penn family resulted, in 1732, in the establishment of the following boundaries: "Beginning at cape Cornelis, or Henlopen; thence due west half way to the Chesapeake; thence northerly on a line tangent to a circle of 12 miles radius around New Castle; thence around this circle to the Delaware, and thence to the place of beginning." Baltimore repudiated his agreement, but the boundaries nearly as given were decreed in 1750 by the lord chancellor. In the continental congresses the colony had its own delegates, and was at first known as The Counties of New Castle, Kent and Sussex, upon Delaware. Its connection with Pennsylvania was still close, and some of its prominent men were successively officers of both Delaware and Pennsylvania. Aug. 27, 1776, a convention met at New Castle and formed a state constitution, which was proclaimed in force Sept. 21. It assumed the name of The Delaware State, with a president chosen by the legislature to serve three years. The importation of slaves was forbidden, and the right of suffrage was limited, as under the proprietors, to freeholders. June 12, 1792, a state convention adopted a new constitution, which went into force without a popular vote. It altered the state title to that of The State of Delaware, vested the executive power in a governor chosen for three years by popular vote, and gave the right of suffrage to white male citizens over 21 years of age paying state or county taxes. It also made the state suable in its own courts. The state is really still under this constitution. A new constitution, adopted by a convention which met Nov. 8, 1831, is that of 1792, with an alteration of the judiciary system, and of the governor's term of office to four years. Two slight amendments have since been made.


—In national politics the year 1850 (see UNITED STATES) is a dividing line for Delaware. Until that year the state had been steadily anti-democratic, casting its electoral votes for federalists and whigs at every election except that of 1820, when, like all the other states, it voted for Monroe. (See CONNECTICUT.) Since 1850 the state has always been democratic, except in 1872, when it cast its electoral votes for Grant. But the majorities have always been extremely small. The successful party has never obtained more than 56 per cent. of the popular vote, except in 1868, when Seymour's proportion reached 59 per cent.


—In state politics the small margin of difference between the parties has always been easily affected by local reasons, so that state elections have generally been very close and doubtful. During the state's whig period, a democratic congressman or governor was occasionally elected, as in 1838 and 1846. In 1850 the democrats succeeded for the first time in choosing governor, congressman and legislature; but four years later the know nothings (see AMERICAN PARTY, I.) were equally successful. In 1860 the electoral vote was democratic, the congressman opposition, and the legislature a tie. In 1862 the governor elected was a republican, and the congressman democratic. Since 1862 the democratic majority (except in 1872) has been slowly increasing, so that in 1878 the republicans, who seem to have lost courage, attempted to change their party organization to that of the greenback-labor party. The results were the refusal of many republicans to vote, the consequent rise of the democratic proportional vote to 79 per cent. of the whole, and the temporary disappearance of all opposition to the democratic party in the state government. In 1880 the republican organization was renewed, and the vote stood. 15,275 Dem., 14,133 Rep. Connecticut and Delaware furnish the best examples of the manner in which a party may be kept in active existence by keeping up a struggle in state elections, in the face of almost constant defeat in national elections.


—In 1861 the state, though slaveholding, took no part in secession. Jan. 2, 1861, a commissioner from Mississippi invited the state, through its legislature, to join the southern confederacy about to be formed. He was courteously heard, and the legislature then unanimously voted its "unqualified disapproval" of the proposition. From the first the calls for troops were promptly and fully answered, and of all the border states Delaware alone received the hearty and entire approval of president Lincoln in his message of Dec. 3, 1861. To use his own words, "South of the line [Mason and Dixon's], noble little Delaware led off right from the first." It is said that no citizen of Delaware ever made a secession speech. The attitude of the dominant party in the state, as represented by governor William Burton, the Bayards, and other leading democrats, may be best expressed by citing Thos. F Bayard's speech in June, 1861, in which, after hoping for a peaceful solution of the difficulties of the nation, he thus concluded. "But with this secession, or revolution, or rebellion, or by whatever name it may be called, the state of Delaware has naught to do. Never has a word, a thought, an act of ours, been unfaithful to the Union of our fathers; in letter and in spirit it has been faithfully kept by us."


—The great change in party lines which took place about 1850 (see UNITED STATES; DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY, V.) is exemplified in the political history of the Bayard family, which has for about 83 years furnished the most distinguished of Delaware's congressmen. James A. Bayard (in Congress 1797-1813) was one of the ablest federalist senators, and his son Richard H. Bayard, who was in the senate 1836-45, was an equally distinguished whig. On the other hand, James A. Bayard (in senate 1851-69), and his son Thomas F. Bayard, who has been in the senate since 1869, have held as high rank in the democratic party.


—The name of lord Delaware, who died off the coast of this state, was given in 1703 to Delaware bay, and thence to the river and state. The state is popularly known as The Diamond State, from its shape, and its people as The Blue Hen's Chickens, probably from a particularly game breed of fighting cocks of which the state was once proud.


—GOVERNORS: Joshua Clayton (1789-96), Gunning Bedford (1796), Daniel Rogers (1797), Richard Bassett (1798-1802), David Hall (1802-05), Nathaniel Mitchell (1805-08). George Truett (1808-11), Joseph Haslett (1811-14), Daniel Rodney (1814-17), John Clarke (1817-20). John Collins (1821-4), Samuel Paynter (1824-7), George Poindexter (1827-30), David Hazzard (1830-33), Caleb P. Bennett (1833-7), Cornelius P. Comegys (1837-40), Wm B. Cooper (1840-44), Thomas Stockton (1844-6), William Temple (1846-7), William Thorp (1847-51), William H. Ross (1851-5), Peter F. Causey (1855-9), William Burton (1859-63), William Cannon (1863-7), Gove Saulsbury (1867-71), James Ponder (1871-5), John P. Cochran (1875-9) John W. Hall (1879-83). (See ABOLITION, III.)


—See 1 Poore's Federal and State Constitutions; 2 Bancroft's United States; 2 Hildreth's United States; Houston's Boundaries of Delaware; Clay's Annals of the Swedes on the Delaware; Tribune Almanac, 1838-81: Appleton's Annual Cyclopœdia, 1861-80; Spencer's Life of Thos. F. Bayard; Ferris' History of Wilmington, Delaware; Vincent's History of Delaware; 11 Pennsylvania Hist. Society's Publications.


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