Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution.
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.
George Read, Delaware’s second senator, presented his credentials to the Senate and took his seat.
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).
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.
James A. Bayard Sr. of Wilmington became the first of five Bayards to represent Delaware in the Senate.
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.
Seth Eastman accepted a commission to paint a series of 17 canvases depicting army forts, including Fort Delaware, Delaware.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Howard O. Greene of Delaware was chosen to be the Senate’s sergeant at arms, a position he held until September 6, 1996.
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.
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.
Tom Carper became chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.