John Vining - Delaware's Lonely Representative

John Vining - Delaware's Lonely Representative

John Vining was an American Founder who was Delaware’s inaugural member of the United States House of Representatives.

A Federalist, Vining was a party animal who was a ton of fun to be around. That is, until he was struck by tragedy.

John Vining

John Vining was orphaned just as tensions between Great Britain and her colonists were on the rise.

John was raised by his father’s friend, Declaration Signer Caesar Rodney. When he came of age, Vining received a large inheritance.

Due to his wealth, he was expected to be a leader of his community and, as such, began to study law under another Declaration Signer (and future Constitution Signer) George Read.


After passing the bar, John Vining was sent to represent Delaware in the Continental Congress.

Still in his mid-20’s, Vining agreed with two other Delegates his age on the need for changes to the Articles of Confederation. These other two men were James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, the two main proponents of a new government under the Constitution.

Vining began to associate with the Federalist Party. This was the situation when he received election as a Congressman in the House of Representatives.

The Representative From Delaware

Delaware, the smallest State by population, was only permitted to send one member to the House. This means that John was not a Delegate, he was the Delegate.

During his time in the House, John Vining sided with Hamilton over Madison and supported the Washington Administration on most of its policies.

After four years, Vining was elected as a member of the United States Senate. He was known as an active member of the Senate and helped organize the nation in its infancy.


John served one term before leaving national politics.

Two years later, Vining’s beloved wife, Anna Maria, died unexpectedly.

John, who was always known for throwing extravagant parties, allowed his excessive drinking to turn to alcoholism. He also continued the irresponsible spending of his inheritance.

At just 43 years old, John Vining drank himself to death. At the time he was near broke and left next to nothing for his children who were taken in by his sister.

Do you want to learn about other Founders who suffered great tragedies?

Not a problem!

Try these articles on Thomas Heyward, Jr and Meriwether Lewis.

Want to read a great book about the American Revolution in Delaware?


‘Independence in the First State’ is a fun book on the subject. Pick up a copy through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).

Want to get fun American Revolution articles straight to your inbox every morning?


Subscribe to my email list here.

William Grayson - The First Senator to Die in Office

William Grayson - The First Senator to Die in Office

Germany vs The Articles of Confederation - Federalist # 19 - James Madison

Germany vs The Articles of Confederation - Federalist # 19 - James Madison