On December 17, 1787, Delaware ratified the Constitution at the Golden Fleece Tavern, thus becoming the First State. There is a physical marker commemorating the spot.
This was the site of the Golden Fleece Tavern, scene of some of the most important and dramatic events in Delaware history. Built in the 1730s, the Golden Fleece was a center for community and government activities. It was a place of great importance during the American Revolution and the early years of our Nation’s Independence. Also known as Battell’s Tavern, it hosted the meetings of the Committee of Inspection and Observation, and was a vital point for the exchange of wartime communications. With the transfer of state government from New Castle to Dover in 1777, the Golden Fleece became the meeting place of the Assembly’s Upper House, the Legislative Council. It was the home of that body until a State House was completed in 1791. In September 1787, a new framework for our Nation’s government was sent to the states for consideration. Thirty delegates were elected to meet and review the document. The meeting was convened here on December 3. Approval was unanimous, and on December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the Federal Constitution. A fitting climax to its role as Delaware’s “Capitol Tavern” occurred in January 1790, when the Council met to approve the Bill of Rights. The Golden Fleece was demolished circa 1830, and replaced by the Capitol Hotel. The hotel was closed in the 1920s, and renovated to its present appearance by Henry and Mabel Lloyd Ridgely.