Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Jacob Broom

                    Jacob Broom, an American businessman, politician, and signer of the U.S. Constitution, was born on October 17, 1752.  His parents were James Broom and Esther Willis; his father was a blacksmith who became a prosperous farmer, and his mother was a Quaker.   Jacob married Rachel Pierce in 1773, and the couple reared eight children, including Congressman James M. Broom; they were also the grandparents of Congressman Jacob Broom.

                    Jacob attended Wilmington's Old Academy to receive his primary education.  Afterwards, he became a prosperous farmer, surveyor, and successful local politician.  He was still a young man when he became active in politics and served in a variety of local offices:  borough assessor, president of the city's "street regulators" (a group responsible for the care of the street, water, and sewage system), and justice of the peace for New Castle County.  He was 24 years old in 1776 when he became the assistant burgess (vice-mayor) of Wilmington; he was re-elected to this office six times.  He also served four terms as chief burgess(Mayor), and he has the distinction of never losing an election.

                    Broom was strongly influenced by his pacifist Quaker friends and relatives; this influence kept him from actually fighting in the Revolutionary War.  He did however contribute to the cause of independence by putting "his abilities as a surveyor at the disposal of the Continental Army [and] preparing detailed maps of the region for General Washington shortly before the Battle of Brandywine."

                    Jacob became more involved in politics after the Revolution was over.  He represented his community at the state legislature (1784-86 and 1788).  He was chosen by the state legislature to attend the Annapolis Convention of 1786, but he was unable to attend even though "he likely sympathized with the convention's call for political reforms." 

                    "Despite his lack of involvement in national politics prior to the Constitutional Convention, Broom was a dedicated supporter of strong center government.  When George Washington visited Wilmington in 1783, Broom urged him to `contribute your advice and influence to promote that harmony and union of our infant governments which are so essential to the permanent establishment of our freedom, happiness and prosperity.'

                    "Broom carried these opinions with him to Philadelphia, where he consistently voted for measures that would assure a powerful government responsive to the needs of the states.  He favored a nine-year term for members of the Senate, where the states would be equally represented.  He wanted the state legislatures to pay their representatives in Congress, which, in turn, would have the power to veto state laws.  He also sought to vest state legislatures with the power to select presidential electors, and he wanted the President to hold office for life.  Broom faithfully attended the sessions of the Convention in Philadelphia and spoke out several times on issues that he considered crucial, but he left most of the speechmaking to more influential and experienced delegates.  Georgia delegate William Pierce described him as `a plain good Man, with some abilities, but nothing to render him conspicuous, silent in public, but cheerful and conversible in private."

                    Jacob went back to Wilmington after the convention, and built a home in 1795 "near Brandywine Creek on the outskirts of the city."  He was primarily interested in local government and continued his service to the Wilmington government; he also became the first postmaster for the city (1790-92).

                    Broom was active in his community in other ways as well.  He served as chairman of the board of directors for Wilmington's Delaware Bank for many years.  He "operated a cotton mill, as well as a machine shop that produced and repaired mill machinery."  DuPont purchased his mill property in 1802 and made it the "center of their manufacturing empire.  Broom was also involved in an unsuccessful scheme to mine bog iron ore."  According to a letter written to his son James in 1794, Broom was also interested in "internal improvements:  toll roads, canals, and bridges."

                    In addition to all duties and interests listed above, "Broom also found time for philanthropic and religious activities.  His long-standing affiliation with the Old Academy led him to become involved in its reorganization into the College of Wilmington."  Then he served on the college's first Board of Trustees.  He was a lay leader of the Old Swedes Church.

                    Jacob Broom died on April 25, 1810, at the age of 58, while on a business trip to Philadelphia; he was buried at Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia.

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