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title:“Sussex County Petition To The Delaware Convention”
date written:1787-12-4

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:24 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Sept. 27, 2022, 2:45 a.m. UTC

"Sussex County Petition To The Delaware Convention." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 3. Ed. Gaspare J. Saladino and John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1978. 107-08. Print.
Delaware Public Archives

Sussex County Petition To The Delaware Convention (December 4, 1787)

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 divers 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 than 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 one 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 bindingon them without their assent expressed either by themselves or their representatives 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 county in your honorable body, that your petitioners may have an opportunity 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.

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