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.
|Newcastle||Casear A. Rodney||Democratic-Republican||455||7.7%||✓|
|Sussex||William H. Wells||Federalist||899||9.4%||✓|
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.
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