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Jensen, Merrill (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut
(1978)

V. The election of convention delegates, 26 November 1787,   pp. 92-104


Page 92

92
V
THE ELECTION OF
CONVENTION DELEGATES
26 November 1787
Delaware Whigs and Tories both favored ratification, but accord-
ing to "Timoleon" the Tories spread "false and scandalous" rumors
that the Whigs were opposed to the Constitution while the Tories
were the "patrons of it." The only record of an attempt to stir up
opposition is that of Richard Henry Lee, a Virginia Antifederalist.
Enroute from Congress in New York to Virginia, Lee stopped at Wil-
mington the second week in November and was reported to have
"harangued" the populace, cautioned against hasty adoption, and
distributed "inflammatory papers" against the Constitution.
The election of Convention delegates turned on local political is-
sues, not on the Constitution. Whigs in New Castle County defeated
nine of ten men, including George Read, nominated on a "Read-
Tory" ticket. Tories won in Kent County, where, apparently, the
Whigs did not vote. But again there was intimidation and threats
of violence in the Sussex County election of Convention delegates and
of representatives to the legislature.
Prior to the election in Sussex County, efforts were made to create
a "Union Ticket" as in the election on 15 October, but the effort failed.
Tories encamped hundreds of armed men a mile from the polls, and
Whig leaders persuaded their followers not to vote for fear of blood-
shed. The threat of violence, the abstention of most Whigs, and
the removal of the polling place from Lewes to Nanticoke Hundred
in the Tory-dominated western part of the county resulted in a Tory
victory.
Fewer than 700 people voted, as contrasted to the 1000 to 1100
who usually voted. The records make no distinction between the
votes for delegates to the Convention and for representatives to the
legislature, but Whigs protested the results of both. Nine petitions,
signed by 369 people, were sent to the state Convention asking it to
call a new election (VI below). An additional nine petitions, signed
by 405 people, protesting the legislative election were sent to the


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