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

III. The General Assembly and the Sussex elections, 25 October-10 November 1787,   pp. 62-83


Page 62

62
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
AND THE SUSSEX ELECTIONS
25 October-10 November 1787
The annual election on Monday, 1 October 1787, took place with-
out incident in New Castle and Kent counties, but threats of violence
prevented the election in Sussex County. Before the election, Sussex
Whigs made it clear that they intended to use force to prevent former
Loyalists from voting. Sheriff Peter F. Wright was aware of the threat,
and after opening the polls at Lewes, he adjourned the election until
Monday, 8 October. The sheriff and Undersheriff Thomas Laws then
went to Dover and asked President Thomas Collins for help. Collins
met with the Privy Council and issued a proclamation for the sup-
pression of rioters (Mfm:Del. 11).
On Monday, 8 October, Sheriff Wright adjourned the election to
Monday, 15 October, and then was "taken sick." Meanwhile, Presi-
dent Collins went to Lewes and persuaded Whig and Tory leaders to
agree upon a "Union Ticket." The leaders also decided that only
fifty men from each side should vote. The sheriff remained "sick"
on the 15th, and the coroner, who by law was supposed to preside in
his place, did not appear. Undersheriff Laws therefore presided.
Armed men, mostly Whigs apparently, were nearby to ensure the
election of the "Union Ticket, " and the election inspectors stopped
the election after 100 freemen had voted. The result was the election
of three Whigs (William Peery, John Tennant, Nathaniel Waples),
three Tories (Rhoads Shankland, George Mitchell, Charles Polk),
and one possible Tory (Nathaniel Hayes). Simon Kollock, a Whig
leader, was elected to the Council.
The day after the election, Sheriff Wright signed the indentures of
election. Undersheriff Laws took the indentures to President Collins
who declared the indentures improper: they should have been signed
by the presiding officer, Undersheriff Laws. Properly signed inden-
tures were delivered to the House on 29 October and to the Council
on the 30th.
Some Sussex representatives were present when the legislature con-
vened on the 20th. On the 25th, the House Committee on Elections


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