One of Delaware's Colonial Leaders

1752 - 1810

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     Jacob Broom was born in Wilmington, De. in 1752, the eldest son of a blacksmith who prospered in farming. The young Broom was educated at home and probably at the local Old Academy. Although he followed his father into farming and also studied surveying, he was to make his career primarily in mercantile pursuits, including shipping and the import trade, and in real estate. He married Rachel Pierce in 1773 and together they had eight children.

     Broom was not necessarily a distinguished patriot. His only recorded service was the preparation of maps for General Washington before the Battle of Brandywine. In 1776, at the age of 24, Broom became assistant Burgess of Wilmington, De. Over the next several decades, he held that office six times and that of Chief Burgess four times, as well as those of Borough Assessor, President fo the city "street regulators," and justice of the peace for New Castle County.

     Broom was a member of the State Legislature in 1784-86 and in 1788, during which time he was chosen as a delegate to the Annapolis Convention, but he did not attend. At the Constitutional Convention, he never missed a session and spoke on several occassions, but his role was only a minor one.

     After the Convention, Jacob Broom returned to Wilmington, where in 1795 he erected a home near the Brandywine River on the outskirts of the city. He was the first Postmaster of Wilmington (1790-92) and continued to hold various local offices and to participate in a varity of economic endeavors. For many years, he chaired the board of directors of Wilmington's Delaware Bank. He also operated a cotton mill, as well as a machine shop that produced and repaired mill machinery. He was involved, too, in an unsuccessful scheme to mine bog iron ore. A further interest was internal improvements: toll roads, canals, and bridges.

     Broom also found time for philanthropic and religious activities. He served on the board of trustees of the College of Wilmington and as a lay leader at the Old Swedes Church. He died in 1810 at the age of 58 while in Philadelphia on business. He was interred in Philadelphia at the Christ Church Burial Grounds.


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Last update: 7/15/2007