The Cost of a Democracy

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Few documents exist from Delaware’s 1787 Constitutional Ratification Convention. This Auditor of Accounts Book reveals the expenses incurred by the delegates who attended.

The Cost of Democracy

At the time of the ratification of the United States Constitution, there was no official state house in Dover. It was common to meet in the local taverns and Battell’s or The Golden Fleece Tavern was located on the Public Square and accessible. It was used regularly as a meeting place for Legislative Council. They met there again to approve the Bill of Rights in 1790. The tavern was torn down about 1830; to make way for the Capitol Hotel which is now offices and apartments.

The waste book, which is more commonly known as a day book, is a ledger that records accounts and disbursements from the office of the auditor of accounts. The auditor was authorized to settle claims against the State; to subpoena witnesses; and to prepare and state annually a general account of all debts due to the State.