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Ebe W. Tunnell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ebe W. Tunnell
50th Governor of Delaware
In office
January 19, 1897 – January 15, 1901
Preceded byWilliam T. Watson
Succeeded byJohn Hunn
Member of the Delaware Senate
In office
January 3, 1871 – January 7, 1873
Personal details
Born(1844-12-31)December 31, 1844
Ocean View, Delaware
DiedDecember 18, 1917(1917-12-18) (aged 72)
Lewes, Delaware
Political partyDemocratic
ResidenceLewes, Delaware

Ebe Walter Tunnell (December 31, 1844 – December 18, 1917) was an American merchant and politician from Lewes, in Sussex County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly and as Governor of Delaware.

Early life and family

Tunnell was born at Blackwater, Delaware, near Clarksville, now Ocean View, Sussex County, Delaware, son of Nancy J. Long and Stephen Tunnell.[1] After attending the public schools at Milford and Lewes, he ran the Blackwater general store started by his grandfather. He moved to Lewes in 1872, and operated a drug and hardware business there and was a member of the Lewes Presbyterian Church.

He was one of two Delaware governors who never married.

Governor of Delaware

Tunnell was a member of the Delaware House of Representatives in the 1871/72 session and Clerk of the Peace for Sussex County from 1885 through 1890. He was the unsuccessful Democratic Party candidate for Governor of Delaware in 1894, losing to the Republican Party candidate, Joshua H. Marvil. Two years later, in 1896, he was elected governor, defeating the Union (Addicks) Republican Party candidate, James R. Hoffecker, and the regular Republican Party candidate John C. Higgins. He served one term as governor from January 19, 1897, until January 15, 1901.

The Delaware Constitution of 1897, the state's constitution, was written and adopted during his term. It added some representation for New Castle County in the Delaware General Assembly, but reduced the representation of Wilmington, which was already the state's most populous part. Among many other changes, it created the office of Lieutenant Governor, allowed governors to be elected to a second term and gave them a legislative veto, reduced judge's terms from life to 12 years, and eliminated the poll tax. It was also during his term that the General Incorporation Law was passed, creating the favorable business environment that has resulted in Delaware becoming the preferred place in the U.S. for companies to incorporate.

Delaware General Assembly
(sessions while Governor)
Year Assembly Senate Majority Speaker House Majority Speaker
1897–1898 89th Democratic Hezekiah Harrington Democratic Emery B. Riggin
1899–1900 90th Democratic Charles M. Salmon Republican Theodore F. Clark

Death and legacy

After his term ended, Tunnell returned to Lewes, where he became president of the Farmers' Bank of Delaware, a director of the Delaware, Maryland and Virginia Railroad, and owner of the Delaware Pilot. He died at Lewes, and is buried there in the Lewes Presbyterian Church cemetery.


Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. Members of the Delaware General Assembly took office the first Tuesday of January. State representatives have a two-year term. The governor takes office the third Tuesday of January and has a four-year term.

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
State Representative Legislature Dover January 3, 1871 January 7, 1873
Clerk of the Peace Executive Georgetown 1885 1890 Sussex County
Governor Executive Dover January 19, 1897 January 15, 1901
Delaware General Assembly service
Dates Assembly Chamber Majority Governor Committees District
1871–1872 76th State House Democratic James Ponder Sussex at-large
Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1894 Governor Ebe W. Tunnell Democratic 18,659 47% Joshua H. Marvil Republican 19,880 50%
1896 Governor Ebe W. Tunnell Democratic 15,507 44% James R. Hoffecker
John C. Higgins
Union Republican


  1. ^ family genealogy
  • 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.


External links

Places with more information

Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert J. Reynolds
Democratic nominee for Governor of Delaware
1894, 1896
Succeeded by
Peter J. Ford
Political offices
Preceded by
William T. Watson
Governor of Delaware
Succeeded by
John Hunn
This page was last edited on 17 June 2021, at 00:07
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