Dover, the United States of America
February 20th, 1777
Thomas McKean tapped his gold-headed cane on the table before him, "Gentlemen, I do not wish to hurry this procession, but I believe that we should make our decision soon. After all, we have been meeting in this room for the past week, yet we have not come to a consensus."
The other delegates in the room silenced their arguments and looked at the tall, thin Congress member with unease. McKean's quick temper and crass attitude were well-known to the other thirty-two delegates present and no one wanted to provoke the man to explode into an unending tirade. However, after a few moments, the convention continued, albeit a bit more civilly than before, as the matter the delegates were discussing was of utter importance.
Joshua Clayton, one of the youngest members of the Delaware House of Assembly, cleared his throat to garner attention and spoke, "Like many of my fellow assemblymen here, I believe the Constitution has good ideas and intentions. However, we are still hesitant about the idea of a powerful federal government with widespread suffrage. Did we not see the tyrannical rule of Britain and fight against them to win our freedom? Why should we allow a powerful government to lord over us?”
“Because they are not the same damn it! How many times do I have to beat it into your head?!” McKean exploded.
Before anything happened, George Read, one of the three Delaware delegates to Congress, intervened, “As my colleague here has poorly attempted to state, the proposed Constitution and federal government are very different than the rule of the British. For one, we will actually have representation and a fairly powerful representation at that. Additionally, there are fourteen guaranteed amendments that will immediately be invoked when the Constitution is ratified, which will protect the people’s rights and liberties. A House that is divided can not stand. While the Constitution may seem overbearing, it must be understood that it was made with the purpose of creating a stable, representative nation with protections to safeguard the people's interest.”
“Ah, a quote from The Necessity of the Republic and the Constitution?” Clayton asked.
Read smiled knowingly and pulled out the very book Clayton mentioned, “An interesting read that has many valid points. I’m sure most of you have read it as well. The book states several excellent counter-arguments, which I have been preaching to you about for the last week.”
“Yes, yes. Frankly, we have been blessed by your speeches," Clayton stated sarcastically, causing a few of the delegates to laugh, "What about the issues of slavery? I understand that we are trying to make a nation of equals, but there are plenty in this room, including Rodney, who have numbers of slaves. Will they be compensated after their slaves are freed?"
"Please do not use me as a tool to oppose this document," Caesar Rodney replied, "I support this document thoroughly, and the last time the members of Congress discussed this document, we came to an agreement that the slaves would be compensated for by the government. The compensation won't be high, but it will hopefully be enough. I have always supported the ideas of a strong, central government, but this proposed federal government is enough for me."
McKean finally managed to recollect himself and adjusted his large cocked hat, "The other members of Congress and I have another piece of information that may help convince you lot to ratify this document."
Finally managing to make the room silent without his explosive outburst, McKean continued, "The federal government is expected to build a new capital, a brand new city that is apart from any other states. Some of the final proposed locations were Wilmington in our colony and Swedesborough in New Jersey. So it is very likely that the capital of this United States might be right next to our colony, or within our colony itself. I'm sure you already have an idea of what that entails."
The other delegates understood immediately. Having the capital close to Delaware would boost the state's prestige, convince more merchants and traders to pass through the colony in their travels to the capital, and the such. While Delaware was by no means poor, it lagged behind other states in terms of population and trade due to its small size, small population, and lack of abundant resources. The state did have a thriving agricultural community but was usually outmatched by the other colonies in terms of production.
"And being in the United States with the other colonies would allow us to be on equal footing with them as well." McKean declared.
Rodney, who was the more charismatic speaker of the three, spoke up, "The document isn't perfect, but it certainly goes above and beyond anything the world has seen before this moment. Parts of the documents are radical, such as women's rights and racial equality, but it is for the benefit of ourselves and for the United States. As the Necessity of the Republic places it, "To drag down women and minorities would mean that the United States would always fight with one hand tied behind its back." Additionally, I know that many of you know that older women are a great deal more knowledgable, capable, and wise, than the youth of either gender and, some may say more capable than ourselves. I, for one, know that my grandmother was certainly more than capable of making me feel like a schoolboy once more with but a few wise words."
This earned a few chuckles from the delegates. Motivated by the laughter, Rodney pressed forward in a more serious manner.
"This was all taken into consideration when crafting this document. Additionally, our colony will have much leeway in terms of establishing our own local laws and traditions. The Constitution allows us to be ourselves first and foremost and also allows us to be a part of a bigger and greater nation. To cast it aside and say that we are better off on our own would be foolhardy. If we refuse to ratify and go our own way, and the other colonies band together to form the United States, then where would that leave us?"
"A House that is divided can not stand," Clayton echoed the previous argument.
"Exactly, and while the Constitution forbids any attempts at secession, I believe we will never need to secede because while we will be incorporated into a large nation with the other colonies, we will still be able to be ourselves and maintain our own way of life, with few exceptions," Rodney stood up and thumped the table, "So, what will it be? Will our colony be the "first state" of this greater union? Or will we hesitate and allow the other colonies to pass us?"
A vote was started several minutes later and when the votes were counted, it was clear which side emerged victoriously.
By a vote of 25-5 (the three members of Congress did not vote), Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution on February 20th of 1777.
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22-year-old Korean-American (got my American citizenship in 2019!) studying law and history at a UC.
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