Delaware State Constitution


Delaware created their state constitution in 1776, but ended up making revisions and created a new constitution in 1792. On June 15, 1776, the Patriot leader Thomas McKean urged the General Assembly to suspend the Government under the crown. This effectively ended the Proprietary government in the “Lower Counties” now known as Delaware. After the Declaration of Independence was created, the General Assembly met in in the summer of 1776 and enacted legislation calling for the election of a State Constitutional Convention. Here, there would be ten members from each county. On August 27, 1776 the assembly met in New Castle, Delaware.

Thomas McKean ended up playing a major role by writing the content of the finished content. With this constitution, not much changed, except for the replacement of the Proprietary governor with an Executive Privy Council. This council was chaired by a President. Also, a second house of the Legislature was created. The legislature was made bicameral, which was a somewhat conservative step that put Delaware in tune with other states. The office of governor was abolished. The name of the state also changed. Before, it was a toungue twister: The Counties of New Castle, Kent and Sussex upon Delaware. The new name was simply, the Delaware State.

The Delaware State’s Privy Council, created by the 1776 Constitution, worked with the President. The General Assembly selected the four members, two by the House, and two by the Council. Photostats include acts of Congress pertaining to days of fasting, and business of the Council including the exporting of flour to other states and to Bermuda, complaints against Deputy Quartermaster General Francis Wade, the appointment of a deputy quartermaster, the state schooner Delaware, and efforts to regain state papers captured by the British.


.Thomas McKean (1734-1817), A.M. (hon.), 1763, LL.D. 1785, portrait painting

Above is a painting of Thomas McKean, who played a key role in writing Delaware’s constitution

Another man who played a signficant role in the politics of Delaware was Richard Bassett. Born in Maryland, Bassett was a lawyer who moved to Delaware. He served in the Lower House of Delaware State Legislature 1785, Upper House of Delaware State Legislature 1776 & 1777-1780 & 1783-1785, Delaware State Constitution Convention 1776, and was a Delegate to Annapolis Convention 1786. A colleague described Bassett as “a religious enthusiast, lately turned Methodist, and serves his Country because it is the will of the people that he should do so.”

Munroe, John A. Colonial Delaware: A History. N.p.: KTO, 1978. Print.


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