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1787

United States Constitution

December 7

Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution.

1789

Drawing of Federal Hall, with horse and carriage in front.

March 21

Richard Bassett, one of Delaware’s first two senators, took his seat in the U.S. Senate, which was meeting at Federal Hall in New York City. The Senate had convened on March 4, but because only eight senators were present, there were not enough to constitute a quorum. The body was forced to adjourn each day until April 6, when it achieved its first quorum of 12 members, out of the eligible 22.

1789

George Read (Pro-Admin-DE)

April 13

George Read, Delaware’s second senator, presented his credentials to the Senate and took his seat.

1789

Richard Bassett (Anti-Admin-DE)

May 15

The senators drew lots to determine the three classes of senators. George Read was assigned to Class 1 (with a two-year term to expire in 1791), while Richard Bassett was assigned to Class 2 (with a four-year term to expire in 1793).

1794

March 28

By a vote of 20 to 7, the Senate refused to seat Kensey Johns. Johns had been appointed by Delaware governor Joshua Clayton after the state legislature proved unable to agree upon a replacement for Senator George Read, who had resigned. In refusing to seat Johns, the Senate agreed that Governor Clayton had violated a constitutional provision that restricted gubernatorial appointments to periods when state legislatures were in recess.

1804

James A. Bayard Sr. (F-DE)

November 13

James A. Bayard Sr. of Wilmington became the first of five Bayards to represent Delaware in the Senate.

1815

Treaty of Ghent

February 16

The Senate unanimously approved the Treaty of Ghent, the peace treaty ending the War of 1812. Delaware senator James A. Bayard Sr. was among the American commission that negotiated the treaty.

1833

John M. Clayton (AJ, W-DE)

December 16

John M. Clayton of Dover became chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, a position he held until 1836.

1849

March 6

John M. Clayton resigned his Senate seat to serve as secretary of state under President Zachary Taylor. The Senate received his nomination on March 6 and he was confirmed on March 7.

1857

James A. Bayard Jr. (D-DE)

December 16

James A. Bayard Jr. of Wilmington became chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, a position he held until 1861.

1864

January 29

Senator James A. Bayard Jr.  resigned his seat in protest of the Test Oath, which required senators to swear not only to future loyalty but also to affirm that they had never previously engaged in disloyal conduct.

1870

Fort Delaware, Delaware

 

Seth Eastman accepted a commission to paint a series of 17 canvases depicting army forts, including Fort Delaware, Delaware.

1871

Eli Saulsbury (D-DE)

January 17

The Delaware legislature elected Eli Saulsbury of Dover to replace his brother, Willard, in the U.S. Senate. Willard Saulsbury had been poised for reelection to his Senate seat when he found himself in a three-way race against his two elder brothers, Gove and Eli.

1879

Thomas F. Bayard Sr. (D-DE)

March 19

Thomas F. Bayard Sr. of Wilmington became chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, a position he held until 1881.

1881

PPT Seal

October 10

The Senate elected Thomas F. Bayard Sr. as president pro tempore.

1885

March 6

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Senator Thomas F. Bayard Sr. as secretary of state under President Grover Cleveland. Bayard resigned his Senate seat that same day.

1896

Henry A. du Pont (R-DE)

May 15

The Senate resolved the contested election of Henry A. du Pont of Winterthur, voting against his seating. Du Pont filed a second petition in January 1897, which the Committee on Privileges and Elections reported on unfavorably in March. The Class 2 Senate seat remained vacant from March 4, 1895 to January 18, 1897. Du Pont was subsequently elected to the Senate by the state legislature in 1906.

1897

Richard R. Kenney (D-DE)

March 19

A petition was submitted on behalf of John E. Addicks, who claimed to have been legally elected by the state legislature and contested the right of Senator Richard R. Kenney to his seat. The Senate referred the petition to the Committee on Privileges and Elections, but the committee issued no report and Senate took no further action on the matter.

1898

Congressional Medal of Honor

April 2

Senator Henry A. du Pont received the Congressional Medal of Honor for "his distinguished gallantry, and voluntary exposure to the enemy's fire at a critical moment [during the Civil War], when the Union line had been broken, encouraged his men to stand to their guns, checked the advance of the enemy, and brought off most of his pieces."

1899

March 13

The state legislature was unable to agree on a candidate for the Class 1 Senate seat, which remained vacant until 1903. In 1901, the legislature failed to elect a successor for the Class 2 seat. Delaware remained unrepresented in the U.S. Senate from March 4, 1901 until March 1, 1903.

1910

 

Senator Henry A. du Pont arranged for the appointment of a local Capitol Hill newsboy, J. Franklin Little, to be a Senate page. More than 70 years later, Little shared his reminiscences of events in his life as a page with the Senate Historical Office.

1911

April 27

Senator Henry A. du Pont became chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs (precursor to today's Armed Services Committee), a position he held until 1913.

1913

Willard Saulsbury Jr. (D-DE)

March 5

Senator Willard Saulsbury Jr. of Wilmington became secretary of the Democratic Conference, a position he held until 1916.

1916

Josiah O. Wolcott (D-DE)

November 7

Josiah O. Wolcott of Dover became Delaware’s first directly elected senator after the adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1913.

1916

Willard Saulsbury Jr. (D-DE)

December 14

The Senate elected Willard Saulsbury Jr. as president pro tempore.

1916

Henry Latimer by Clawson Shakespeare Hammitt

December 23

The Joint Committee on the Library accepted portraits of James and Henry Latimer of Newport by Delaware artist Clawson Hammitt. In 1787 James Latimer presided over Delaware’s convention to ratify the Constitution. Henry Latimer, the son of James Latimer, served in the Senate from 1795 until 1801.

1934

Statue of Caesar Rodney, National Statuary Hall Collection

 

Congress accepted statues of Caesar Rodney of Dover and John Middleton Clayton of Dover, Delaware’s two contributions to the National Statuary Hall Collection. Both marble statues are the work of sculptor Bryant Baker.

1946

Opening of the Delaware Memorial Bridge

April 8

The Senate passed by unanimous consent a bill authorizing the State of Delaware to construct, maintain, and operate a toll bridge across the Delaware River, now known as the Delaware Memorial Bridge, near Wilmington. The president signed the act on July 13, 1946.

1981

William V. Roth Jr. (R-DE)

January 5

William V. Roth Jr. of Wilmington became chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs (today's Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs), a position he held until 1987, and again in 1995.

1987

Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE)

January 6

Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Wilmington became chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, a position he held until 1995.

1994

December 30

William V. Roth Jr. became Delaware's longest-serving senator at the time, with 23 years, 11 months, and 30 days in office. He surpassed John J. Williams of Millsboro. Roth ended his Senate career having served for 30 years and 2 days.

1995

Photo of Howard O. Greene

January 4

Howard O. Greene of Delaware was chosen to be the Senate’s sergeant at arms, a position he held until September 6, 1996.

1995

October 12

William V. Roth Jr. became chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, a position he held until 2001.

2001

January 3

Joseph R. Biden Jr. became chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, a position he held until January 20, 2001. Biden chaired the committee again from June 2001 to January 3, 2003, and again in 2007.

2002

Tom Carper (D-DE)

 

Senator Tom Carper of Wilmington received the Golden Gavel Award for presiding over the Senate for 100 hours in a single session.

2003

January 6

Joseph R. Biden Jr. became Delaware's longest-serving senator, surpassing Bill Roth's record of 30 years, 2 days. Senator Biden went on to serve a total of 36 years and 13 days.

2008

Joseph R. Biden, Vice Presidential nominee

August 28

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. was nominated for vice president of the United States on the ticket with fellow senator Barack Obama of Illinois. Biden and Obama won the election in November 2008 and were inaugurated on January 20, 2009.

2009

Ted Kaufman (D-DE)

November 20

Senator Ted Kaufman of Wilmington received the Golden Gavel Award for presiding over the Senate for 100 hours in a single session..