Mapping Early American Elections

Delaware House of Representatives, 1796

In 1796, Delaware elected fourteen Federalists and seven Democratic-Republicans to Delaware’s House of Representatives. Seven of the Federalists were elected from Kent County, and seven were elected from Sussex County. All seven Democratic-Republicans were elected from New Castle County.

Delaware’s House of Representatives was elected annually in early October. Delaware used a county-level at-large system, in which the seven candidates receiving the highest number of votes in each of Delaware’s three counties were elected.

Delaware’s state legislature, comprised of nine State Senators and twenty-one Representatives, was the smallest in the new nation. The party alignment represented in the 1796 House of Representatives election was typical in Delaware during the First Party System. This resulted in a State Legislature that was almost always controlled by Federalists.

Often, when elections for Delaware’s House of Representatives and the U.S. House of Representatives occurred during the same year, as it did in 1796, the county-level party percentages in both elections closely matched. For example, in Delaware’s 1796 House of Representatives election and Delaware’s Fifth Congressional election, the party percentages in each county only varied by about one or two percent.

Delaware’s 1796 House of Representatives election is also historically significant as the first time that Delaware voters elected Caesar A. Rodney to a state-level political office. Caesar A. Rodney, nephew of Caesar Rodney (signer of the Declaration of Independence) would go on to become a leader in the Democratic-Republican party, serve six terms as a Delaware State Representative (1797-1802), two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (the Eighth and Seventeenth congresses), and serve as the Attorney General of the United States under presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

District Candidate Party Vote Percentage Elected
Kent James Raymond Federalist 1,013 8%
Kent Nicholas Ridgely Federalist 982 7.7%
Kent Stephen Lewis Federalist 962 7.6%
Kent Manlove Emerson Federalist 959 7.5%
Kent William Warner Federalist 956 7.5%
Kent William Sorden Federalist 954 7.5%
Kent William Morris Federalist 946 7.4%
Kent Purnel Stoffard Democratic-Republican 874 6.9%
Kent William Adams Democratic-Republican 872 6.8%
Kent Abraham Pierce Democratic-Republican 856 6.7%
Kent William MacClyment Democratic-Republican 854 6.7%
Kent William Hughlett Democratic-Republican 853 6.7%
Kent Ridson Bishop Democratic-Republican 844 6.6%
Kent Joseph David Democratic-Republican 811 6.4%
Newcastle James Stroud Democratic-Republican 486 8.2%
Newcastle Robert Armstrong Democratic-Republican 476 8.1%
Newcastle Joel Lewis Democratic-Republican 456 7.7%
Newcastle Casear A. Rodney Democratic-Republican 455 7.7%
Newcastle Nehemiah Tilton Democratic-Republican 452 7.7%
Newcastle Robert Maxwell Democratic-Republican 448 7.6%
Newcastle Elias Naudain Democratic-Republican 447 7.6%
Newcastle Isaac Grantham Federalist 396 6.7%
Newcastle Benjamin Merrit Federalist 395 6.7%
Newcastle Jacob Broom Federalist 392 6.7%
Newcastle Samuel Hollingsworth Federalist 392 6.7%
Newcastle Joseph Israel Federalist 384 6.5%
Newcastle William Frazier Federalist 365 6.2%
Newcastle Thomas Lea Federalist 347 5.9%
Sussex Other candidates 1,794 18.6%
Sussex David Owen Federalist 931 9.7%
Sussex Robert Burton Federalist 914 9.5%
Sussex Samuel Paynton Federalist 899 9.4%
Sussex William H. Wells Federalist 899 9.4%
Sussex Thomas Sorden Federalist 895 9.3%
Sussex John Williams Federalist 890 9.3%
Sussex Woodman Stokely Federalist 881 9.2%
Sussex John Tennant Democratic-Republican 510 5.3%
Sussex David Hall Democratic-Republican 504 5.2%
Sussex Joseph Haslet Democratic-Republican 493 5.1%

In most cases, only candidates who received more than 5 percent of the vote in a district are reported. Other candidates are reported as a group, but only if they in aggregate received more than 5 percent of the vote. In addition, percentages for each district may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding. The term Dissenting Republican includes various breakaway factions of the Democratic-Republican party.

New Nation Votes Data

Mapping Early American Elections is generously funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

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