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Delaware Today magazine 302 History: Article about Delaware state legislators, election reform, Gov. Benjamin Biggs, Delaware Historical Society

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Dover, 1888

This is the first known group portrait of Delaware state legislators. Counties were represented by equal numbers then, though it was a contentious time in state politics. Agricultural and industrial interests were at odds, in part because legislators took trains to Dover each day of a session for free—courtesy of the railroads—but farmers, who had to transport crops, were charged high freights.

George Lodge of Claymont, marked by the “X” in this image, served just one term, as many other legislators did. Gov. Benjamin Biggs, hoping to clean up the “wholesale bribery,” where voters were paid for their votes, said, “The use of money at elections everywhere is alarmingly on the increase.” There was no cleanup of the election system. However, the problems of the 1880s and 1890s led to the rewriting of the U.S. Constitution in 1897, which established direct election of U.S. Senators, a post that had been elected by, yes, the state legislature.

 

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