Nathaniel Mitchell

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Nathaniel Mitchell
no known portrait exists
Governor of Delaware
In office
January 15, 1805 – January 19, 1808
Preceded by David Hall
Succeeded by George Truitt
Continental Congressman
from Delaware
In office
October 27, 1786 – March 4, 1789
Personal details
Born 1753
Laurel, Delaware
Died February 21, 1814 (aged 60/61)
Laurel, Delaware
Political party Federalist
Spouse(s) Hannah Morris
Residence Laurel, Delaware
Profession lawyer
Religion Episcopalian

Nathaniel Mitchell (1753 – February 21, 1814) was an American lawyer and politician from Laurel, in Sussex County, Delaware. He was an officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, a Continental Congressman from Delaware, and a member of the Federalist Party, who served as Governor of Delaware.

Early life and family[edit]

Mitchell was born near Laurel, Delaware, son of James & Margaret Dagworthy Mitchell. A croquet fan from a young age he often trained at Graveny school of croquet. He married Emma Yrten and had ten children: Rebbeca., Emma, William I, Theodore, Alfred, Dagworthy, Elizabeth, Mary Ann, Elizabeth and Frederick. Mitchell was one of the founders of Georgetown, Delaware, and lived there on the northeast corner of the Square from about 1791 until 1808. The family returned to their Laurel home, Rosemont, now 121 Delaware Avenue in 1808. They were members of Christ Episcopal Church at Broad Creek.

Military career[edit]

Mitchell was an officer of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. In 1776 he was captain of a Delaware company raised under Colonel Samuel Patterson as part of what was known as the "Flying Camp." They were stationed at Perth Amboy, New Jersey and saw no action. When the "Flying Camp" disbanded the company was attached to Colonel David Hall's regiment, but fought with Colonel William Grayson's Virginians at the Battle of Brandywine. Nursing an illness he was not at Germantown, but spent the winter at Valley Forge. Following William Grayson's promotion to Brigadier-General, Mitchell led his regiment in the attack at the Battle of Monmouth. This was the attack that was ordered back by General Charles Lee and which eventually led to his court-martial. In 1779 he was Brigade Major on General Peter Muhlenburg's staff in the tidewater Virginia. When British General Benedict Arnold attacked Richmond, Virginia, Mitchell was defending Petersburg, Virginia when he was captured on May 10, 1781. By most accounts, his childhood friend Michael O'Brien died in the affray. He was held prisoner until after the Battle of Yorktown.

Professional and political career[edit]

Mitchell served as Delaware's delegate to the Continental Congress during its last two years from his election on October 27, 1786 until the Congress was replaced by the new government under the United States Constitution of 1787. Following that he was Prothonotary for Sussex County. In 1801 he ran for Governor of Delaware, losing to David Hall, the emocratic-Republican candidate. Hall was another veteran of the American Revolution who ran a campaign critical of Mitchell's alleged deistic Anglicanism. Mitchell lost heavily Presbyterian New Castle County by just enough votes to overcome his wide margins elsewhere. Three years later, in 1804 he was successful, beating Joseph Haslet, the Democratic-Republican candidate. Mitchell served as Governor of Delaware from January 15, 1805 until January 19, 1808.


Delaware General Assembly
(sessions while Governor)
Year Assembly Senate Majority Speaker House Majority Speaker
1805 29th Federalist James Sykes Federalist Thomas Laws
1806 30th Federalist James Sykes Federalist Jesse Green
1807 31st Federalist James Sykes Federalist William Warner

Death and legacy[edit]

Mitchell died at his home at Laurel. He may have been buried there at first, but was later removed to Christ Church, and is buried in the Broad Creek Episcopal Graveyard, near Laurel.

Hannah, Nathaniel Mitchell's widow, later married Colonel Manaen Bull, a British soldier who became a resident of Laurel after the American Revolution. He had the first store there, on the northwest corner of Delaware Avenue and Market Street. They lived near Trap Pond. Unlike Mitchell, Bull was a Democratic-Republican and ran for Governor of Delaware in 1816 and 1819, losing to John Clark and Henry Molleston.

No known portrait exists of Nathaniel Mitchell.

Almanac[edit]

Elections were held the first Tuesday of October and members of the General Assembly took office the first Tuesday of January. The General Assembly elected the Continental Congressmen for a term of one year, State Senators had a three-year term and State Representatives had a one-year term. The Governor takes office the third Tuesday of January and had a three-year term.


Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
Delegate Legislature Philadelphia October 27, 1786 March 4, 1789 Continental Congress
Prothonotary Judiciary Georgetown 1788 1805 Sussex County
Governor Executive Dover January 15, 1805 January 19, 1808
State Representative Legislature Dover January 6, 1809 January 6, 1810
State Senator Legislature Dover January 6, 1810 January 6, 1813
Delaware General Assembly service
Dates Assembly Chamber Majority Governor Committees District
1809 33rd State House Federalist George Truitt Sussex at-large
1810 34th State Senate Federalist George Truitt Sussex at-large
1811 35th State Senate Federalist Joseph Haslet Sussex at-large
1812 36th State Senate Federalist Joseph Haslet Sussex at-large
Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1801 Governor Nathaniel Mitchell Federalist 3,457 50% David Hall Republican 3,475 50%
1804 Governor Nathaniel Mitchell Federalist 4,391 52% Joseph Haslet Republican 4,050 48%

References[edit]

  • Conrad, Henry C. (1908). History of the State of Delaware. Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Wickersham Company. 
  • Hoffecker, Carol E. (2004). Democracy in Delaware. Wilmington, Delaware: Cedar Tree Books. ISBN 1-892142-23-6. 
  • Martin, Roger A. (1984). A History of Delaware Through its Governors. Wilmington, Delaware: McClafferty Press. 
  • Martin, Roger A. (1995). Memoirs of the Senate. Newark, Delaware: Roger A. Martin. 
  • Munroe, John A. (1954). Federalist Delaware 1775-1815. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University. 
  • Scharf, John Thomas (1888). History of Delaware 1609-1888. 2 vols. Philadelphia: L. J. Richards & Co. ISBN 0-87413-493-5. 
  • Wilson, Emerson (1969). Forgotten Heroes of Delaware. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Deltos Publishing Company. 

External links[edit]

Places with more information[edit]