By Bill Korach. The Report Card in cooperation with Jacksonville’s First Coast Tea party presents profiles of the 39 signers of the Constitution in honor of its 224th Anniversary
Jacob Broom was born in 1752 in Wilmington, Delaware. He was the eldest son of a blacksmith who prospered in farming. After receiving his education at Wilmington’s Old Academy he became a farmer, a surveyor, and a local businessman where he dealt in public security interests, lending and investments, mercantile, manufacturing, and shipping.
He held a variety of local offices including: borough assessor, president of the city’s “street regulators”, justice of the peace for New Castle County, assistant burgess, and chief burgess (mayor).He was also the first postmaster general for Wilmington, DE (1790-1792).
The strong pacifist influence of his Quaker friends and relatives kept him from actual fighting in the Revolutionary War, however, he served his country in other ways such as drawing maps for General Washington before the battle of Brandywine, Pennsylvania.
He attended all sessions of the Constitutional Convention, spoke on several occasions, but his role was a minor one. Surrounded by wealthy planters, lawyers, and merchants, he quietly voiced the concerns of the down home politician. William Pierce said of him “he is a plain good man, with some abilities, but nothing to render him conspicuous”. He was a dedicated supporter of a strong central government and supported ratification of the Constitution. He took no active part in the new Federal Government, but, instead, concentrated on local government.
Jacob Broom died on April 25, 1810. His is remembered as a local politician whose interests remained focused throughout his career on the government of his city and state.
Gunning Bedford, Jr. was born in 1747 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After studying law with Joseph Read in Philadelphia, he was admitted to the bar and moved to Dover, Delaware.
Bedford served in the Revolutionary War, possibly as an aide to General Washington. After the
war he sat briefly in the Delaware legislature during the early post war period and represented his state in the Continental Congress (1783-1785). He served as Attorney General of Delaware (1784-1785).
At the Constitutional Convention he was primarily concerned with the fate of small states in a federal union. When the idea of drafting a new Constitution was accepted, he supported the New Jersey Plan which provided for equal representation for the states in the national legislature. He called for strong limitations on the powers of the executive branch and recommended measures by which the states could maintain close control over the national legislature and judiciary, including appointment of federal judges by the state legislatures. He sat on the committee for the Great Compromise which settled the thorny question of state representation. He voted for ratification of the Constitution and was instrumental in Delaware’s becoming the first state to ratify it.
After final ratification of the Constitution, Bedford served as presidential elector for George
Washington in 1789 and 1793, reviewed system which became the Judiciary Act of 1789, and was selected by Washington to be the federal district judge for Delaware in 1789. He held this position until his death March 30, 1812. Gunning Bedford, Jr. was the quintessential champion for the rights of the small states.