Sunday, February 21, 2010

Most Prominent Politicians From Each State, I: Delaware

I'm starting a new historical series just out of personal curiosity for myself. Who are the most prominent politicians from each state? I've been thinking about this for awhile. So let's look at the states in order of their admittance into the union. I'll briefly list the top 3 and give a list of other possibilities. That means we will start with the 1st state, Delaware.

Delaware has an incredibly pathetic list of politicians. This probably reflects it's meaninglessness as a state. Really, the leader of this list should be whoever thought of milking the entire east coast by charging insane told rates for the 5 miles of I-95 that runs through the state. That's probably the most important thing that's ever happened to Delaware, except maybe for the decision to prostitute itself out to any and all corporations.

Again, here's an underwhelming list.

1. Joe Biden. It's Biden by a landslide. In over 200 years as a state, Biden's really the only national leader to come out of Delaware. No Delaware politician had ever reached a position of such universal respect. Even without become Vice-President, Biden wins.

2. William Roth. Yes, the creator of the Roth IRA is #2. Not to demean Roth, a respectable Republican who served as Senator from 1971 to 2001. Interestingly, Roth is actually a Northwestern by birth. Raised in Helena, Montana, Roth is one of the most prominent graduates of my own alma mater, the University of Oregon. Roth didn't even move to Delaware until he was 33 years old. But he quickly rose in Delaware politics, reaching the House in 1966 and then the Senate.

And now it gets really grim:
3. Thomas Bayard. Bayard was a Senator from 1869 until 1885, when Grover Cleveland named him Secretary of State. Bayard was a pro-Southern nominal Unionist during the Civil War and was arrested for resisting the breakup of a paramilitary group in the state supporting the South. But he did play an important role in convincing Delaware not to secede. He came in 2nd for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1880 (losing to Winfield Scott Hancock) and 1884 (losing to Cleveland). His most prominent act as Secretary of State was negotiating a fisheries treaty with Canada.

And a man who negotiated a late 19th century fisheries treaty is the 3rd most prominent politician from Delaware.

Other competitors:

By any rights, none. But given the fact that Bayard is #3, we might consider Caesar Rodney (Attorney General under Jefferson and the obscure man on the Delaware quarter), John Clayton (Secretary of State under Zachary Taylor), and that's about it.

Though one might give Outerbridge Horsey props for one of the great names in American political history.

Tomorrow: Pennsylvania.