Delaware had been the first state to ratify the United States Constitution.
Following the American Revolution Delaware Methodists and Quakers encouraged slaveholders to free their slaves, and many did so in a surge of individual manumissions for idealistic reasons.
By 1810, three-quarters of all blacks in Delaware were free.
By the 1860 census, there were 1,798 slaves remaining in Delaware.
Then at the onset of the American Civil War, Delaware voted against secession on January 3, 1861, thus remaining in the Union.
William Cannon ran for Governor of Delaware in the 1862 election as a Republican, after switching parties and supporting the Union.
In the months leading up to the 1862 election William Cannon and incumbent U.S. Representative George P. Fisher feared they would be defeated by a combination of so many Republican voters off serving in the U.S. Army, and polling place shenanigans by stay at home Democrats.
Their solution was to request federal troops to monitor Delaware voting places.
The Union troops came, supervised the election, and William Cannon was elected Governor of Delaware defeating Democrat Samuel Jefferson from New Castle County.
However, Cannon faced a General Assembly with a Democratic majority in both houses.
This majority was furious with the new Governor.
Besides despising him for switching parties and supporting the hated abolitionists, they thought he had virtually won his office at the point of a bayonet.
The State House refused to allow Cannon the use of its facilities for his inauguration, and a joint committee of the General Assembly said his inaugural message was not only impertinent, but insolent in the extreme, entirely unbecoming a State Executive, especially one elected by “fraud and violence against the known wish of a majority of the citizens of Delaware.”
Finally, once again the elections of 1864 were supervised by federal troops, but this time the Democrats voted and swept the election.
Without the veto, Delaware Governor Cannon was powerless to accomplish anything with the General Assembly.
Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Then after the 13th Amendment passed Congress on January 31, 1865 and President Lincoln famously signed the Amendment on February 1, 1865, it was sent to the states for ratification.
Illinois became the first state to ratify the amendment on February 1, 1865.
Then Rhode Island, Michigan, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Missouri voted to ratify the 13th Amendment.
On February 7, 1865, the three states of Maine, Kansas, and Massachusetts voted for ratification.
However, on February 8, 1865, Delaware became the twelfth state to vote on ratification and became the first state to reject the amendment.
The amendment had been approved by neighboring border state Maryland, but Delaware’s Democrats refused to ratify this measure.
Then Kentucky also rejected the amendment on February 24, 1865.
Delaware Governor William Cannon became ill and died while in office on March 1, 1865.
Then New Jersey rejected the amendment on March 16th and Mississippi rejected it on December 5, 1865.
Finally Georgia voted for ratification on December 6, 1865 and on December 18, 1865 Secretary of State William Seward proclaimed the 13th Amendment to have been adopted.
As a result, Delaware freed its remaining slaves, but did not vote to ratify the 13th Amendment until February 12, 1901.
Now WE know em