Constitution of Delaware (1792)

CONSTITUTION OF DELAWARE—1792[1]


We, the people, hereby ordain and establish this constitution of government for the State of Delaware.

Through divine goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences, of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring and protecting reputation and property, and, in general, of attaining objects suitable to their condition, without injury by one to another; and as these rights are essential to their welfare, for the due exercise thereof, power is inherent in them; and, therefore, all just authority in the institutions of political society is derived from the people, and established with their consent, to advance their happiness; and they may, for this end, as circumstances require, from time to time, alter their constitution of government.

Article I

Section 1. Although it is the duty of all men frequently to assemble together for the public worship of the Author of the universe, and piety and morality, on which the prosperity of communities depends, are thereby promoted; yet no man shall or ought to be compelled to attend any religious worship, to contribute to the erection or support of any place of worship, or to the maintenance of any ministry, against his own free will and consent; and no power shall or ought to be vested in or assumed by any magistrate that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner control, the rights of conscience, in the free exercise of religious worship, nor a preference be given by law to any religious societies, denominations, or modes of worship.

Sec. 2. No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, under this State.

Sec. 3. All elections shall be free and equal.

Sec. 4. Trial by jury shall be as heretofore.

Sec. 5. The press shall be free to every citizen who undertakes to examine the official conduct of men acting in a public capacity; and any citizen may print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. In prosecutions for publications investigating the proceedings of officers, or where the matter published is proper for public information, the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and in all indictments for libels, the jury may determine the facts and the law, as in other cases.

Sec. 6. The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and possessions from the unreasonable searches and seizures; and no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or things, shall issue without describing them as particularly as may be, nor then, unless there be probable cause supported by oath or affirmation.

Sec. 7. In all criminal prosecutions the accused hath a right to be heard by himself and his counsel, to be plainly and fully informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to meet the witnesses in their examination face to face, to have compulsory process in due time, on application by himself, his friends, or counsel, for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury; he shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself, nor shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, unless by the judgment of his peers or the law of the land.

Sec. 8. No person shall for any indictable offence be proceeded against criminally by information, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger, and no person shall be, for the same offence, twice put in jeoparay of life or limb; nor shall any man’s property be taken or applied to public use without the consent of his representatives, and without compensation being made.

Sec. 9. All courts shall be open; and every man, for an injury done, him in his reputation, person, movable or immovable possessions, shall have remedy by the due course of law, and justice administered according to the very right of the cause and the law of the land, without sale, denial, or unreasonable delay or expense; and every action shall be tried in the county in which it shall be commenced, unless when the judges of the court in which the cause is to be tried shall determine that an impartial trial therefore cannot be had in that county. Suits may be brought against the State, according to such regulations as shall be made law.

Sec. 10. No power of suspending laws shall be exercised, but by authority of the legislature.

Sec. 11. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel punishments inflicted; and in the construction of jails a proper regard shall be had to the health of prisoners.

Sec. 12. All prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offences, when the proof is positive, or the presumption great; and when persons are confined on accusation for such offences, their friends and counsel may at proper seasons have access to them.

Sec. 13. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.

Sec. 14. No commission of oyer and terminer or jail-delivery shall be issued.

Sec. 15. No attainder shall work corruption of blood, nor, except during the life of the offender, forfeiture of estate. The estates of those who destroy their own lives shall descend or vest as in case of natural death; and if any person be killed by accident, no forfeiture shall be thereby incurred.

Sec. 16. Although disobedience to laws by a part of the people, upon suggestions of impolicy or injustice in them, tends by immediate effect and the influence of example, not only to endanger the public welfare and safety, but also, in governments of a republican form, contravenes the social principles of such governments founded on common consent for common good, yet the citizens have a right, in an orderly manner, to meet together, and to apply to persons intrusted with the powers of government for redress of grievances or other proper purposes, by petition, remonstrance, or address.

Sec. 17. No standing army shall be kept up without the consent of the legislature; and the military shall, in all cases and at all times, be in strict subordination to the civil power.

Sec. 18. No soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war, but by a civil magistrate, in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Sec. 19. No hereditary distinction shall be granted, nor any office created or exercised, the appointment to which shall be for a longer term than during good behavior; and no person holding any office under this State shall accept of any office or title of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.


We declare that everything in this article is reserved out of the general powers of government hereinafter mentioned.


Article II

Section 1. The legislative power of this State shall be vested in a general assembly, which shall consist of a senate and house of representatives.

Sec. 2. The representatives shall be chosen annually by the citizens residing in the several counties, respectively, on the first Tuesday of October.

No person shall be a representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-four years, and have a freehold in the county in which he shall be chosen, have been a citizen and inhabitant of the State three years next preceding the first meeting of the legislature after his election, and the last year of that term an inhabitant of the county in which he shall be chosen, unless he shall have been absent on the public business of the United States, or of this State.

There shall be seven representatives chosen in each county, until a greater number of representatives shall by the general assembly be judged necessary; and then, two-thirds of each branch of the legislature concurring, they may by law make provision for increasing their number.

Sec. 3. The senators shall be chosen for three years by the citizens residing in the several counties, respectively, having right to vote for representatives, at the same time when they shall vote for representatives, in the same manner, and at the same places.

No person shall be a senator who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-seven years, and have in the county in which he shall be chosen a freehold estate in two hundred acres of land, or an estate in real and personal property, or in either, of the value of one thousand pounds at least, and have been a citizen and inhabitant of the State three years next preceding the first meeting of the legislature after his election, and the last year of that term an inhabitant of the county in which he shall be chosen, unless he shall have been absent on the public business of the United States or of this State.

There shall be three senators chosen in each county. When a greater number of senators shall by the general assembly be judged necessary, two-thirds of each branch concurring, they may, by law, make provision for increasing their number; but the number of senators shall never be greater than one-half, nor less than one-third, of the number of representatives.

Immediately after the senators shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, the senators residing in each county shall be divided by lot into three classes. The seats of the senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the first year; of the second class at the expiration of the second year; and of the third class at the expiration of the third year, so that one-third may be chosen every year.

Sec. 4. The general assembly shall meet on the first Tuesday of January, in every year, unless sooner convened by the governor.

Sec. 5. Each house shall choose its speaker and other officers; and also each house, whose speaker shall exercise the office of governor, may choose a speaker pro tempore.

Sec. 6. Each house shall judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own members; and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and shall be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties, as shall be deemed expedient.

Sec. 7. Each house may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish any of its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member, and shall have all other powers necessary for a branch of the legislature of a free and independent State.

Sec. 8. Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and publish them immediately after every session, except such parts as may require secrecy, and the yeas and nays of the members on any question shall, at the desire of any member, be entered on the journal.

Sec. 9. The doors of each house, and of committees of the whole, shall be open, unless when the business is such as ought to be kept secret.

Sec. 10. Neither house shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two houses shall be sitting.

Sec. 11. The senators and representatives shall receive a compensation for their services to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the State; but no law varying the compensation shall take effect till an election of representatives shall have intervened. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either house they shall not be questioned in any other place.

Sec. 12. No senator nor representative shall, during the time for which he shall have been elected, be appointed to any civil office under this State which shall have been created, or the emoluments of which shall have been increased, during such time. No person concerned in any army or navy contract, no member of Congress, nor any person holding any office under this State or the United States, except the attorney-general, officers usually appointed by the courts of justice respectively, attorneys at law, and officers in the militia, holding no disqualifying office, shall, during his continuance in Congress or in office, be a senator or representative.

Sec. 13. When vacancies happen in either house writs of election shall be issued by the speakers respectively, or, in cases of necessity, in such other manner as shall be provided for by law; and the persons thereupon chosen shall hold their seats as long as those in whose stead they are elected might have done if such vacancies had not happened.

Sec. 14. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the house of representatives; but the senate may propose alterations, as on other bills; and no bill, from the operation of which, when passed into a law, revenue may incidentally arise, shall be accounted a bill for raising revenue; nor shall any matter or clause whatever, not immediately relating to and necessary for raising revenue, be in any manner blended with or annexed to a bUl for raising revenue.

Sec. 15. No money shall be drawn from the treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published annually.


Article III

Section 1. The supreme executive powers of this State shall be vested in a governor.

Sec. 2. The governor shall be chosen on the first Tuesday of October by the citizens of the State having right to vote for representatives in the counties where they respectively reside, at the places where they shall vote for representatives.

The returns of every election for governor shall be sealed up, and immediately delivered by the returning officers of the several counties to the speaker of the senate, [or in case of his death to the speaker of the house of representatives,] who shall keep the same until a speaker of the senate shall be appointed, to whom they shall be immediately delivered after his appointment, who shall open and publish the same in the presence of the members of both houses of the legislature. Duplicates of the said returns shall also be immediately lodged with the prothonotary of each county. The person having the highest number of votes shall be governor; but if two or more shall be equal in the highest number of votes, the members of the two houses shall, by joint ballot, choose one of them to be governor; and if, upon such ballot, two or more of them shall still be equal and highest in votes the speaker of the senate shall have an additional casting vote.

Contested elections of a governor shall be determined by a joint committee, consisting of one-third of all the members of each branch of the legislature, to be selected by ballot of the houses respectively; every person of the committee shall take an oath or affirmation that in determining the said election he will faithfully discharge the trust reposed in him; and the committee shall always sit with open doors.

Sec. 3. The governor shall hold his office during three years from the third Tuesday of January next ensuing his election, and shall not be capable of holding it longer than three in any term of six years.

Sec. 4. He shall be at least thirty years of age, and have been a citizen and inhabitant of the United States twelve years, next before the first meeting of the legislature after his election, and the last six of that term an inhabitant of this State, unless he shall have been absent on the public business of the United States or of this State.

Sec. 5. No member of Congress, nor person holding any office under the United States, or this State, shall exercise the office of governor.

Sec. 6. The governor shall, at stated times, receive for his services an adequate salary, to be fixed by law, which shall be neither increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected.

Sec. 7. He shall be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of this State, and of the militia, except when they shall be called into the service of the United States.

Sec. 8. He shall appoint all officers whose offices are established by this constitution, or shall be established by law, and whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for; but no person shall be appointed to an office within a county who shall not have a right to vote for representatives, and have been an inhabitant therein one year next before his appointment, nor hold the office longer than he continues to reside in the county. No member of Congress, nor any person holding or exercising any office under the United States, shall at the same time hold or exercise the office of judge, treasurer, attorney-general, secretary, clerk of the supreme court, prothonotary, register or the probate of wills and granting letters of administration, recorder, sheriff, or any office under this State, with a salary by law annexed to it, or any other office which the legislature shall declare incompatible with offices or appointments under the United States. No person shall hold more than one of the following offices at the same time, to wit, treasurer, attorney-general, clerk of the supreme court, prothonotary, register, or sheriff. All commissions shall be in the name of the State, shall be sealed with the great seal, and be signed and tested by the governor.

Sec. 9. He shall have power to remit fines and forfeitures, and to grant reprieves and pardons, except in cases of impeachment.

Sec. 10. He may require information in writing from the officers in the executive department, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices.

Sec. 11. He shall from time to time give to the general assembly information of affairs concerning the State, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge expedient.

Sec. 12. He may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the general assembly; and in case of disagreement between the two houses with respect to the time of adjournment, adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper, not exceeding three months.

Sec. 13. He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

Sec. 14. On the death or resignation of the governor, or his removal from office on impeachment, or for inability, the speaker of the senate at that time shall exercise the office of governor, until a new governor shall be duly qualified, and on the death or resignation of the speaker of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives at that time shall exercise the office, until it be regularly vested in a new governor. If the trial of a Contested election shall continue longer than until the third Tuesday of January next ensuing the election of a governor, the governor of the last year, or the speaker of the senate, or of the house of representatives, who may then be in the exercise of the executive authority, shall continue therein until a determination of such contested election. The governor shall not be removed from his office for inability, but with the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members of each branch of the legislature.

Sec. 15. A secretary shall be appointed and commissioned during the governor’s continuance in office, if he shall so long behave himself well. He shall keep a fair register of all the official acts and, proceedings of the governor, and shall, when required by either branch of the legislature, lay the same, and all papers, minutes, and vouchers relative thereto, before them, and shall perform such other duties as shall be enjoined him by law. He shall have a compensation for his services to be fixed by law.


Article IV

Section 1. All elections of governor, senators, and representatives shall be by ballot. And in such elections every white free man of the age of twenty-one years, having resided in the State two years next before the election, and within that time paid a State or county tax, which shall have been assessed at least six months before the election, shall enjoy the right of an elector; and the sons of persons so qualified shall, between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-two years, be entitled to vote, although they shall not have paid taxes.

Sec. 2. Electors shall in all cases, except treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at elections, and in going to and returning from them.


Article V

Section 1. The house of representatives shall have the sole power of impeaching; but two-thirds of all the members must concur in an impeachment. All impeachments shall be tried by the senate; and, when sitting for that purpose, the senators shall be upon oath or affirmation to do justice according to the evidence. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the senators.

Sec. 2. The governor, and all other civil officers under this State, shall be liable to impeachment for treason, bribery, or any high crime or misdemeanor in office. Judgment in such cases shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office of honor, trust, or profit under this State; but the party convicted shall nevertheless be subject to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment according to law.

Sec. 3. Treason against this State shall consist only in levying war against it, or in adhering to the enemies of the government, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

Article VI

Section 1. The judicial power of this State shall be vested in a court of chancery, a supreme court, and courts of oyer and terminer and general gaol-delivery, in a court of common pleas, and in an orphans’ court, registers’ court, and a court of quarter-sessions of the peace for each county, in justices of the peace, and in such other courts as the legislature (two-thirds of all the members of each branch concurring) may, from time to time, establish.

Sec. 2. The chancellor and the judges of the supreme court, and of the court of common pleas, shall hold their offices during good behavior; but, for any reasonable cause which shall not be a sufficient ground for an impeachment, the governor may, in his discretion, remove any of them, on the address of two-thirds of all the members of each branch of the legislature. They shall, at stated times, receive for their services adequate salaries, to be fixed by law, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office, and shall be payable quarterly to their respective orders upon the treasurer, out of any moneys in the treasury; but they shall hold no other office of profit, nor receive any fees or perquisites, except such fees as shall be fixed by law for business to be done out of court.

Sec. 3. The judges of the supreme court shall be not fewer than three, nor more than four, one of whom shall be chief-justice. There shall be a judge residing in each county. The jurisdiction of this court shall extend over the State. The judges shall, by virtue of their offices, be justices of oyer and terminer and general gaol-delivery in the several counties. Any two of the judges may act as if all were present.

Sec. 4. The judges of the court of common pleas shall be not fewer than three, nor more than four, one of whom shall be chief-justice. There shall be a judge residing in each county. The jurisdiction of this court shall extend over the State. Any two of the judges may act as if all were present.

Sec. 5. The chancellor, or any judge of the supreme court, or of the court of common pleas, shall issue the writ of habeas corpus in vacation time, and out of term, when duly applied for, which shall be immediately obeyed.

Sec. 6. Any judge of the supreme court, or of the court of common pleas, may, unless the legislature shall otherwise provide by law, out of court, take the acknowledgment of deeds; and the same being thereon certified, under his hand, such deed shall be recorded, and have the same effect, as if acknowledged in open court.

Sec. 7. In civil causes, when pending, the supreme court and court of common pleas shall have the power, before judgment, of directing, upon such terms as they shall deem reasonable, amendments in pleadings and legal proceedings, so that by error in any of them the determination of causes, according to their real merits, shall not be hindered; and also of directing the examination of witnesses that are aged, very infirm, or going out of the State, upon interrogatories de bene esse, to be read in evidence in case of the death or departure of the witnesses before the trial, or inability by reason of age, sickness, bodily infirmity, or imprisonment then to attend; and also the power of obtaining evidence from places not within the State.

Sec. 8. Suits may originate in the supreme court or court of common pleas.

Sec. 9. One judge of the supreme court, or of the court of common pleas, may, if the other judges come not, open and adjourn the court, and may also make the necessary rules preparatory, respectively, to the trial or argument of causes.

Sec. 10. At any time pending an action for debt or damages, the defendant may bring into court a sum of money for discharging the same, and the costs then accrued, and the plaintiff not accepting thereof, it shall be delivered for his use to the clerk or prothonotary of the court; and if, upon the final decision of the cause, the plaintiff shall not recover a greater sum than that so paid into court for him, he shall not recover any costs accruing after such payment, except where the plaintiff is an executor or administrator.

Sec. 11. By the death of any party, no suit in chancery or at law, where the cause of action survives, shall abate; but, until the legislature shall otherwise provide, suggestion of such death being entered of record, the executor or administrator of a deceased petitioner, or plaintiff, may prosecute the said suit; and if a respondent or defendant dies, the executor or administrator, being duly served with a scire facias, thirty days before the return thereof, shall be considered as a party to the suit, in the same manner as if he had voluntarily made himself a party; and in any of those cases the court shall pass a decree, or render judgment for or against executors or administrators as to right appertains. But where an executor or administrator of a deceased respondent or defendant becomes a party, the court, upon motion, shall grant such a continuance of the cause as to the judges shall appear proper.

Sec. 12. Whenever a person, not being an executor or administrator, appeals from a decree of the chancellor, or applies for a writ of error, such appeal or writ shall be no stay of proceeding in the chancery, or the court to which the writ issues, unless the appellant or plaintiff in error shall give sufficient security, to be approved respectively by the chancellor, or by a judge of the court from which the writ issues, that the appellant or plaintiff in error shall prosecute respectively his appeal or writ to effect, and pay the condemnation-money and all costs, or otherwise abide the decree in appeal or the judgment in error, if he fail to make his plea good.

Sec. 13. No writ of error shall be brought upon any judgment heretofore confessed, entered, or rendered, but within five years from this time; nor upon any judgment hereafter to be confessed, entered, or rendered, but within five years after the confessing, entering, or rendering thereof, unless the person entitled to such writ be an infant, feme-covert, non compos mentis, or a prisoner, and then within five years exclusive of the time of such disability.

Sec. 14. The equity jurisdiction heretofore exercised by the judges of the court of common pleas shall be separated from the common-law jurisdiction, and vested in a chancellor, who shall hold courts of chancery in the several counties of this State. In cases of equity jurisdiction, where the chancellor is interested, the cognizance thereof shall belong to the court of common pleas, with an appeal to the high court of errors and appeals.

Sec. 15. The judges of the court of common pleas, or any two of them, shall compose the orphans’ court of each county, and may exercise the equity jurisdiction heretofore exercised by the orphans’ courts, except as to the adjusting and settling executors, administrators, and guardians’ accounts; in which cases they shall have an appellate jurisdiction from the sentence or decree of the register. This court may issue process throughout the State to compel the attendance of witnesses. Appeals may be made from the orphans’ court, in cases where that court has original jurisdiction, to the supreme court, whose decision shall be final.

Sec. 16. An executor, administrator, or guardian shall file every account with the register for the county, who shall, as soon as conveniently may be, carefully examine the particulars, with the proofs thereof, in the presence of such executor, administrator, or guardian, and shall adjust and settle the same, according to the very right of the matter, and the law of the land; which account, so settled, shall remain in his office for inspection; and the executor, administrator, or guardian shall, within three months after such settlement, give due notice, in writing, to all persons entitled to shares of the estate, or to their guardians respectively if residing within the State, that the account is lodged in the said office for inspection; and the judges of the orphans’ court shall hear the exceptions of any persons concerned, if any be made, and thereupon allow no demand whatever against the estate of the deceased, unless, upon consideration of all circumstances, they shall be fully convinced that the same is therewith justly chargeable.

Sec. 17. The registers of the several counties shall respectively hold the register’s court in each county. Upon the litigation of a cause, the depositions of the witnesses examined shall be taken at large in writing, and make part of the proceedings in the cause. This court may issue process throughout the State to compel the attendance of witnesses. Appeals may be made from a register’s court to the supreme court, whose decision shall be final. In cases where a register is interested in questions concerning the probate of wills, the granting letters of administration, or executors, administrators, or guardians’ accounts, the cognizance thereof shall belong to the orphans’ court, with an appeal to the supreme court, whose decision shall be final.

Sec. 18. The prothonotaries of the court of common pleas may issue process as heretofore, take recognizances of bail, and sign confessions of judgment; and the clerks of the supreme court shall have the like powers. No judgment in the supreme court or court of common pleas held for one county shall bind lands or tenements in another, until a testatum fieri facias, being issued, shall be entered of record in the office of the prothonotary of the county wherein the lands or tenements are situated.

Sec. 19. The judges of the court of common pleas shall, by virtue of their offices, compose the courts of general quarter-sessions of the peace and gaol-delivery within the several counties. Any two of the said judges shall be a quorum.

Sec. 20. The governor shall appoint a competent number of persons to the office of justice of the peace, not exceeding twelve in each county, until two-thirds of both houses of the legislature shall by law direct an addition to the number, who shall be commissioned for seven years, if so long they shall behave themselves well; but may be removed by the governor within that time on conviction of misbehavior in office, or on the address of both houses of the legislature.

Sec. 21. The style in all process and public acts shall be, “The State of Delaware.” Prosecutions shall be carried on in the name of the State, and shall conclude, “against the peace and dignity of the State.”


Article VII

Section 1. There shall be a court styled “The high court of errors and appeals,” which shall consist of the chancellor and of the judges of the supreme court and court of common pleas. Any four of the judges of this court may proceed on business, but any smaller number may open and adjourn the court. If any of them has rendered judgment or passed a decree in any cause before removal, he shall not sit judicially upon the hearing of the same in this court, but may assign the reasons upon which such judgment was rendered, or such decree passed. The chancellor shall preside, except when he cannot sit judicially; and in such cases, or in his absence, the chief-justice of the supreme court; but if he is so disqualified or absent, then the chief-justice of the court of common pleas shall preside; and if he is so disqualified or absent, then the next eldest judge, according to priority in date of commissions, if present, and not disqualified as aforesaid, shall preside. This court shall have power to issue writs of error to the supreme court, and to the court of common pleas, and to receive and determine appeals from interlocutory or final orders or decrees of the chancellor. Errors shall be assigned and causes of appeal exhibited in writing speedily, and citations duly served on adverse parties.

Sec. 2. Upon the reversal of a judgment of the supreme court or of the court of common pleas, or a decree of the chancellor, this court shall respectively render such judgment or pass such decree as the supreme court, or the court of common pleas, or the chancellor ought to have rendered or passed, except where the reversal is in favor of the plaintiff or petitioner in the original suit, and the damages to be assessed, or the matters to be decreed, are uncertain; in any of which cases the cause shall be remanded, in order to a final decision.

Sec. 3. The judges of this court may issue all process proper for bringing records fully before them, and for carrying their determinations into execution.


Article VIII

Section 1. The members of the senate and house of representatives, the chancellor, the judges of the supreme court and the court of common pleas, and the attorney-general, shall, by virtue of their offices, be conservators of the peace throughout the State; and the treasurer, secretary, clerks of the supreme court, prothonotaries, registers, recorders, sheriffs, and coroners shall, by virtue of their offices, be conservators thereof within the counties respectively in which they reside.

Sec. 2. The representative, and when there shall be more than one the representatives, of the people of this State in Congress, shall be voted for at the same places where representatives in the State legislature are voted for, and in the same manner.

Sec. 3. The State treasurer shall be appointed annually by the house of representatives, with the concurrence of the Senate. No person who hath served in the office of State treasurer shall be eligible to a seat in either house of the legislature until he shall have made a final settlement of his accounts as treasurer, and discharged the balance, if any, thereon due.

Sec. 4. Two persons for the office of sheriff, and two for the office of coroner, shall be chosen by the citizens residing in each county, and having right to vote for representatives, at the time and places of election of representatives, one of whom for each office respectively shall be appointed by the governor. They shall hold their offices for three years, if so long they shall behave themselves well, and until successors be duly qualified; but no person shall be twice appointed sheriff, upon election by the citizens, in any term of six years. The governor shall fill vacancies in these offices by new appointments, to continue unto the next general election, and until successors shall be chosen and duly qualified. The legislature, two-thirds of each branch concurring, may, when it shall be judged expedient, vest the appointment of sheriffs and coroners in the governor; but no person shall be twice appointed sheriff in any term of six years.

Sec. 5. The attorney-general, clerks of the supreme court, prothonotaries, registers, clerks of the orphans’ courts and of the peace, shall respectively be commissioned for five years, if so long they shall behave themselves well; but may be removed by the governor within that time, on conviction of misbehavior in office, or on the address of both houses of the legislature. Prothonotaries, clerks of the supreme court, of the orphans’ courts, registers, recorders, and sheriffs, shall keep their offices in the town or place in each county in which the supreme court and the court of common pleas are usually held.

Sec. 6. Attorneys at law, all inferior officers in the treasury department, election officers, officers relating to taxes, to the poor, and to highways, constables and hundred officers, shall be appointed in such manner as is or may be directed by law.

Sec. 7. All salaries and fees annexed to offices shall be moderate; and no officer shall receive any fees whatever, without giving to the person who pays a receipt for them, if required, therein specifying every, particular, and the charge for it.

Sec. 8. No costs shall be paid by a person accused, on a bill being returned ignoramus; nor on acquittal by a jury, unless a majority of the judges present at the trial certify that there was probable cause for the prosecution.

Sec. 9. The rights, privileges, immunities, and estates of religious societies and corporate bodies shall remain as if the constitution of this State had not been altered. No clergyman or preacher of the gospel, of any denomination, shall be capable of holding any civil office in this State, or of being a member of either branch of the legislature, while he continues in the exercise of the pastoral or clerical functions.

Sec. 10. All the laws of this State, existing at the time of making this constitution, and not inconsistent with it, shall remain in force, unless they shall be altered by future laws; and all actions and prosecutions now pending shall proceed as if this constitution had not been made.

Sec. 11. This constitution shall be prefixed to every edition of the laws made by direction of the legislature.

Sec. 12. The legislature shall, as soon as conveniently may be, provide by law for ascertaining what statutes and parts of statutes shall continue to be in force within this State; for reducing them, and all acts of the general assembly, into such order, and publishing them in such manner, that thereby the knowledge of them may be generally diffused; for choosing inspectors and judges of elections, and regulating the same, in such manner as shall most effectually guard the rights of the citizens entitled to vote; for better securing personal liberty, and easily and speedily redressing all wrongful restraints thereof; for more certainly obtaining returns of impartial juries; for dividing lands and tenements in sales by sheriffs, where they will bear a division, into as many parcels as may be, without spoiling the whole, and for advertising and making the sales, in such manner and at such times and places as may render them most beneficial to all persons concerned; and for establishing schools, and promoting arts and sciences.


Article IX

Members of the general assembly, and all officers, executive and judicial, shall be bound, by oath or affirmation, to support the constitution of this State, and to perform the duties of their respective offices with fidelity.


Article X

The general assembly, whenever two-thirds of each house shall deem it necessary, may, with the approbation of the governor, propose amendments to this constitution, and at least three, and not more than six months, before the next general election of representatives, duly publish them in print, for the consideration of the people; and, if three-fourths of each branch of the legislature shall, after such an election, and before another, ratify the said amendments, they shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as parts of this constitution. No convention shall be called but by the authority of the people; and an unexceptionable mode of making their sense known, will be for them, at a general election of representatives, to vote also, by ballot, for or against a convention, as they shall severally choose to do; and if, thereupon, it shall appear that a majority of all the citizens in the State, having right to vote for representatives, have voted for a convention, the general assembly shall, accordingly, at their next sessions, call a convention, to consist of at least as many members as there are in both houses of the legislature, to be chosen in the same manner, at the same places, and at the same time that representatives are by the citizens entitled to vote for representatives, on due notice given for one month, and to meet within three months after they shall be elected.


Schedule

That no inconveniences may arise from the alterations of the constitution of this State, and in order to carry the same into complete operation, it is hereby declared and ordained—

I. That the president, or, in case of his death, inability, or absence from the State, the speaker of the legislative council, at that time, and in case of his death, inability, or absence from the State, the speaker of the house of assembly, at that time, shall respectively, with the privy council, exercise the executive authority of this State, until the third Tuesday in January next. If the death, inability, or absence of the president shall happen after the first Tuesday of next October, and before the first Tuesday in next January, then the executive authority shall devolve upon the person who was speaker of the council at the next preceding session of the general assembly; and in case of his death, inability, or absence, upon the person who was speaker of the house of assembly at the said next preceding session.

II. That all persons holding offices to which, under this constitution, appointments are to be made by the governor, shall continue in the exercise of the duties of their respective offices, until the first Tuesday of October, 1793, unless their commissions shall sooner expire by their own limitations, or the said offices shall become vacant by death or resignation, and no longer, unless reappointed and commissioned by the governor.

III. That justice shall be administered in the several counties of this State, until the period last mentioned, by the same justices, in the same courts, and in the same manner as heretofore.

IV. That the sheriffs elected at October next shall hold their respective commissions two years, and no longer, from that time, or until new sheriffs are elected and appointed; and such persons shall not be again eligible until the expiration of three years after their commissions cease.

V. That the elections of governor, senators, and representatives shall be conducted by the same persons and in the same manner as is prescribed by the election laws of this State concerning the election of members of the council and of the house of assembly; and the returns thereof shall be made respectively to the person exercising the executive authority, to the senate, and to the house of representatives.

VI. The first meeting of the legislature under this constitution shall be at the town of Dover.

Done in convention the twelfth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the sixteenth. In testimony whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names.

Thomas Montgomery, President.

Attest: James Booth, Secretary.


AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF 1792.

The chancellor shall compose the orphans’ court of each county, and exercise the equity jurisdiction heretofore exercised by the orphans’ court, except as to the adjusting and settling executors, administrators, and guardians’ accounts, in which case he shall have an appellate jurisdiction from the sentence and decree of the register. This court may issue process throughout the State to compel the attendance of witnesses. Appeals may be made from the orphans’ court, in cases where that court has original jurisdiction, to the supreme court, whose decision shall be final.

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  1. This constitution was framed by a convention which met at New Castle in June, 1792, and it was put in operation without having been submitted to the people.