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The name "Delaware" is derived from "De La Warr," after Robert West, Baron de la Warr, governor of Virginia. In 1638, a Swedish settlement was established near present-day Wilmington by Peter Minuit. In turn, the Dutch lost New Netherland in 1664 to the British, who maintained almost uninterrupted control until the Revolution.

Initially part of Pennsylvania, Delaware was granted a limited separate legislature in 1703. Delaware declared its independent state government in 1776 and was the first state to ratify the constitution in 1787. During the Civil War, the state permitted slavery until it was abolished by the 13th Amendment. Delaware remained in the Union despite sentiment favoring the Confederacy in the southern part of the state.

As a result of favorable corporate laws in Delaware, many national corporations have officially registered themselves as Delaware corporations. The largest company actually based in the state is the DuPont chemical company.

See Delaware.

Delaware History

Take a peek at Delaware history. Discover an overview of Delaware's rich history, heritage, historic events, and culture.

With the state motto of "Liberty and Independence," it's no surprise that Delaware was the first of the original 13 states of the Union it's often called the "First" or "Diamond State." The state's name comes from the original governor of Virginia, Thomas West, Lord De La Warr. William Penn acquired the land that makes up Delaware to keep his Pennsylvania colony from being landlocked. Today, Delaware is one of the most industrialized states, known for its chemical research. Dover is the capital the state flower is the peach blossom.

Delaware State History

Henry Hudson, sailing under the Dutch flag, is credited with Delaware's discovery in 1609. The following year, Capt. Samuel Argall of Virginia named Delaware for his colony's governor, Thomas West, Baron De La Warr. An attempted Dutch settlement failed in 1631. Swedish colonization began at Fort Christina (now Wilmington) in 1638, but New Sweden fell to Dutch forces led by New Netherlands' governor Peter Stuyvesant in 1655.

England took over the area in 1664, and it was transferred to William Penn as the lower Three Counties in 1682. Semi-autonomous after 1704, Delaware fought as a separate state in the American Revolution and became the first state to ratify the Constitution in 1787.

During the Civil War, although a slave state, Delaware did not secede from the Union.

In 1802, leuthre Irne du Pontestablished a gunpowder mill near Wilmington that laid the foundation for Delaware's huge chemical industry. Delaware's manufactured products now also include vulcanized fiber, textiles, paper, medical supplies, metal products, machinery, machine tools, and automobiles.

Delaware also grows a great variety of fruits and vegetables and is a U.S. pioneer in the food-canning industry. Corn, soybeans, potatoes, and hay are important crops. Delaware's broiler-chicken farms supply the big Eastern markets, and fishing and dairy products are other important industries.

Points of interest include the Fort Christina Monument, Hagley Museum, Holy Trinity Church (erected in 1698, the oldest Protestant church in the United States still in use), and Winterthur Museum, in and near Wilmington central New Castle, an almost unchanged late 18th-century capital and the Delaware Museum of Natural History.

Popular recreation areas include Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore, Trap Pond State Park, and Rehoboth Beach.

In 2000, Ruth Ann Minner was elected, becoming Delaware's first woman governor.

In 2008, Joe Biden became the first Delaware senator elected to the vice presidency of the United States, as well as the first Roman Catholic to hold that office.

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E. I. du Pont industrialist
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The state was named after the Delaware River, which in turn derived its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr (1577–1618) who was the ruling governor of the Colony of Virginia at the time Europeans first explored the river. The Delaware people, a name used by Europeans for Lenape people indigenous to the Delaware Valley, also derive their name from the same source.

The name de La Warr is from Sussex and of Anglo-French origin. [13] [14] It came probably from a Norman lieu-dit La Guerre. This toponymic could derive from Latin ager, from the Breton gwern or from the Late Latin varectum (fallow). The toponyms Gara, Gare, Gaire (the sound [ä] often mutated in [æ]) also appear in old texts cited by Lucien Musset, where the word ga(i)ra means gore. It could also be linked with a patronymic from the Old Norse verr.

Native Americans Edit

Before Delaware was settled by European colonists, the area was home to the Eastern Algonquian tribes known as the Unami Lenape, or Delaware, who lived mostly along the coast, and the Nanticoke who occupied much of the southern Delmarva Peninsula. John Smith also shows two Iroquoian tribes, the Kuskarawock and Tockwogh, living north of the Nanticoke—they may have held small portions of land in the western part of the state before migrating across the Chesapeake Bay. [15] The Kuskarawocks were most likely the Tuscarora.

The Unami Lenape in the Delaware Valley were closely related to Munsee Lenape tribes along the Hudson River. They had a settled hunting and agricultural society, and they rapidly became middlemen in an increasingly frantic fur trade with their ancient enemy, the Minqua or Susquehannock. With the loss of their lands on the Delaware River and the destruction of the Minqua by the Iroquois of the Five Nations in the 1670s, the remnants of the Lenape who wished to remain identified as such left the region and moved over the Alleghany Mountains by the mid-18th century. Generally, those who did not relocate out of the state of Delaware were baptized, became Christian and were grouped together with other persons of color in official records and in the minds of their non-Native American neighbors. [ citation needed ]

Colonial Delaware Edit

The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle in present-day Delaware in the middle region by establishing a trading post at Zwaanendael, near the site of Lewes in 1631. [16] Within a year all the settlers were killed in a dispute with area Native American tribes. In 1638 New Sweden, a Swedish trading post and colony, was established at Fort Christina (now in Wilmington) by Peter Minuit at the head of a group of Swedes, Finns and Dutch. The colony of New Sweden lasted 17 years. In 1651 the Dutch, reinvigorated by the leadership of Peter Stuyvesant, established a fort at present-day New Castle, and in 1655 they conquered the New Sweden colony, annexing it into the Dutch New Netherland. [17] [18] Only nine years later, in 1664, the Dutch were conquered by a fleet of English ships by Sir Robert Carr under the direction of James, the Duke of York. Fighting off a prior claim by Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, Proprietor of Maryland, the Duke passed his somewhat dubious ownership on to William Penn in 1682. Penn strongly desired access to the sea for his Pennsylvania province and leased what then came to be known as the "Lower Counties on the Delaware" [17] from the Duke.

Penn established representative government and briefly combined his two possessions under one General Assembly in 1682. However, by 1704 the Province of Pennsylvania had grown so large their representatives wanted to make decisions without the assent of the Lower Counties, and the two groups of representatives began meeting on their own, one at Philadelphia, and the other at New Castle. Penn and his heirs remained proprietors of both and always appointed the same person Governor for their Province of Pennsylvania and their territory of the Lower Counties. The fact that Delaware and Pennsylvania shared the same governor was not unique. From 1703 to 1738 New York and New Jersey shared a governor. [19] Massachusetts and New Hampshire also shared a governor for some time. [20]

Dependent in early years on indentured labor, Delaware imported more slaves as the number of English immigrants decreased with better economic conditions in England. The colony became a slave society and cultivated tobacco as a cash crop, although English immigrants continued to arrive.

American Revolution Edit

Like the other middle colonies, the Lower Counties on the Delaware initially showed little enthusiasm for a break with Britain. The citizenry had a good relationship with the Proprietary government, and generally were allowed more independence of action in their Colonial Assembly than in other colonies. Merchants at the port of Wilmington had trading ties with the British.

So it was that New Castle lawyer Thomas McKean denounced the Stamp Act in the strongest terms, and Kent County native John Dickinson became the "Penman of the Revolution." Anticipating the Declaration of Independence, Patriot leaders Thomas McKean and Caesar Rodney convinced the Colonial Assembly to declare itself separated from British and Pennsylvania rule on June 15, 1776. The person best representing Delaware's majority, George Read, could not bring himself to vote for a Declaration of Independence. Only the dramatic overnight ride of Caesar Rodney gave the delegation the votes needed to cast Delaware's vote for independence.

Initially led by John Haslet, Delaware provided one of the premier regiments in the Continental Army, known as the "Delaware Blues" and nicknamed the "Blue Hen's Chicks". In August 1777 General Sir William Howe led a British army through Delaware on his way to a victory at the Battle of Brandywine and capture of the city of Philadelphia. The only real engagement on Delaware soil was the Battle of Cooch's Bridge, fought on September 3, 1777, at Cooch's Bridge in New Castle County, although there was a minor Loyalist rebellion in 1778.

Following the Battle of Brandywine, Wilmington was occupied by the British, and State President John McKinly was taken prisoner. The British remained in control of the Delaware River for much of the rest of the war, disrupting commerce and providing encouragement to an active Loyalist portion of the population, particularly in Sussex County. Because the British promised slaves of rebels freedom for fighting with them, escaped slaves flocked north to join their lines. [21]

Following the American Revolution, statesmen from Delaware were among the leading proponents of a strong central United States with equal representation for each state.

Slavery and race Edit

Many colonial settlers came to Delaware from Maryland and Virginia, where the population had been increasing rapidly. The economies of these colonies were chiefly based on labor-intensive tobacco and increasingly dependent on African slaves because of a decline in working class immigrants from England. Most of the English colonists had arrived as indentured servants (contracted for a fixed period to pay for their passage), and in the early years the line between servant and slave was fluid. [ citation needed ]

Most of the free African-American families in Delaware before the Revolution had migrated from Maryland to find more affordable land. They were descendants chiefly of relationships or marriages between white servant women and enslaved, servant or free African or African-American men. [22] Under slavery law, children took the social status of their mothers, so children born to white women were free, regardless of their paternity, just as children born to enslaved women were born into slavery. As the flow of indentured laborers to the colony decreased with improving economic conditions in England, more slaves were imported for labor and the caste lines hardened.

By the end of the colonial period, the number of enslaved people in Delaware began to decline. Shifts in the agriculture economy from tobacco to mixed farming resulted in less need for slaves' labor. In addition local Methodists and Quakers encouraged slaveholders to free their slaves following the American Revolution, and many did so in a surge of individual manumissions for idealistic reasons. By 1810 three-quarters of all blacks in Delaware were free. When John Dickinson freed his slaves in 1777, he was Delaware's largest slave owner with 37 slaves. By 1860, the largest slaveholder owned 16 slaves. [23]

Although attempts to abolish slavery failed by narrow margins in the legislature, in practical terms the state had mostly ended the practice. By the 1860 census on the verge of the Civil War, 91.7% of the black population were free [24] 1,798 were slaves, as compared to 19,829 "free colored persons". [25]

An independent black denomination was chartered in 1813 by freed slave Peter Spencer as the "Union Church of Africans". This followed the 1793 establishment in Philadelphia of the African Methodist Episcopal Church by Richard Allen, which had ties to the Methodist Episcopal Church until 1816. Spencer built a church in Wilmington for the new denomination. [26] This was renamed as the African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church and Connection, more commonly known as the A.U.M.P. Church. In 1814, Spencer called for the first annual gathering, known as the Big August Quarterly, which continues to draw members of this denomination and their descendants together in a religious and cultural festival. [27]

Delaware voted against secession on January 3, 1861, and so remained in the Union. While most Delaware citizens who fought in the war served in the regiments of the state, some served in companies on the Confederate side in Maryland and Virginia Regiments. Delaware is notable for being the only slave state from which no Confederate regiments or militia groups were assembled. [ citation needed ] Delaware essentially freed the few slaves who were still in bondage shortly after the Civil War [ further explanation needed ] but rejected the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution the 13th Amendment was rejected on February 8, 1865, the 14th Amendment was rejected on February 8, 1867, and the 15th Amendment was rejected on March 18, 1869. Delaware officially ratified the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments on February 12, 1901. [ citation needed ]

Reconstruction and Industrialization Edit

After the Civil War, Democratic governments led by the state's Bourbon aristocracy continued to dominate the state and imposed an explicitly white supremacist regime in the state. The Democratic legislatures declared blacks second-class citizens in 1866 and restricted their voting rights despite the Fifteenth Amendment, ensuring continued Democratic success throughout most of the nineteenth century. [28]

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, the Wilmington area grew into a manufacturing center. Investment in manufacturing in the city grew from $5.5 million in 1860 to $44 million in 1900. [29] The most notable manufacturer in the state was the Du Pont Company. Because of Wilmington's growth, local politicians from the city and New Castle County pressured the state government to adopt a new constitution providing the north with more representation. However, the subsequent 1897 constitution did not proportionally represent the north and continued to give the southern counties disproportionate influence. [30]

As manufacturing expanded, businesses became major players in state affairs and funders of politicians through families such as the Du Ponts. Republican John Addicks attempted to buy a US Senate seat multiple times in a rivalry with the Du Ponts until the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment. [31] The allegiance of industries with the Republican party allowed them to gain control of the state's governorship throughout most of the twentieth century. The GOP ensured blacks could vote because of their general support for Republicans and thus undid restrictions on black suffrage. [32]

Delaware benefited greatly from World War I because of the state's large gunpowder industry. The Du Pont Company, the most dominant business in the state by WWI, produced an estimated 40% of all gunpowder used by the Allies during the war. It produced nylon in the state after the war and began investments into General Motors. [33] Additionally, the company invested heavily in the expansion of public schools in the state and colleges such as the University of Delaware in the 1910s and 1920s. This included primary and secondary schools for blacks and women. [34] Delaware suffered less during the Great Depression than other states, but the depression spurred further migration from the rural south to urban areas. [35]

World War II to present Edit

Like in World War I, the state enjoyed a big stimulus to its gunpowder and shipyard industries in World War II. New job opportunities during and after the war in the Wilmington area coaxed African Americans from the southern counties to move to the city. The proportion of blacks constituting the city's population rose from 15% in 1950 to over 50% by 1980. [36] The surge of black migrants to the north sparked white flight in which middle class whites moved from the city to suburban areas, leading to general segregation of Delaware's society. In the 1940s and 1950s, the state attempted to integrate its schools. The University of Delaware admitted its first black student in 1948, and local courts ruled that primary schools had to be integrated. Delaware's integration efforts partially inspired the US Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. [37]

However, integration only encouraged more white flight, and poor economic conditions for the black population led to some violence during the 1960s. Riots broke out in Wilmington in 1967 and again in 1968 in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr after which the National Guard occupied the city for nine months to prevent further violence. [38]

Since WWII, the state has been generally economically prosperous and enjoyed relatively high per capita income because of its location between major cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC. [39] Its population grew rapidly, particularly in the suburbs in the north where New Castle county became an extension of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. [40] Americans, including migrants from Puerto Rico, and immigrants from Latin America flocked to the state. By 1990, only 50% of Delaware's population consisted of natives to the state. [41]

Delaware is 96 miles (154 km) long and ranges from 9 miles (14 km) to 35 miles (56 km) across, totaling 1,954 square miles (5,060 km 2 ), making it the second-smallest state in the United States after Rhode Island. Delaware is bounded to the north by Pennsylvania to the east by the Delaware River, Delaware Bay, New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean and to the west and south by Maryland. Small portions of Delaware are also situated on the eastern side of the Delaware River sharing land boundaries with New Jersey. The state of Delaware, together with the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland and two counties of Virginia, form the Delmarva Peninsula, which stretches down the Mid-Atlantic Coast.

The definition of the northern boundary of the state is unusual. Most of the boundary between Delaware and Pennsylvania was originally defined by an arc extending 12 miles (19.3 km) from the cupola of the courthouse in the city of New Castle. [ citation needed ] This boundary is often referred to as the Twelve-Mile Circle. [b] Although the Twelve-Mile Circle is often claimed to be the only territorial boundary in the U.S. that is a true arc, the Mexican boundary with Texas includes several arcs, [42] and many cities in the South (such as Plains, Georgia) [43] also have circular boundaries.

This border extends all the way east to the low-tide mark on the New Jersey shore, then continues south along the shoreline until it again reaches the 12-mile (19 km) arc in the south then the boundary continues in a more conventional way in the middle of the main channel (thalweg) of the Delaware River.

To the west, a portion of the arc extends past the easternmost edge of Maryland. The remaining western border runs slightly east of due south from its intersection with the arc. The Wedge of land between the northwest part of the arc and the Maryland border was claimed by both Delaware and Pennsylvania until 1921, when Delaware's claim was confirmed.

Topography Edit

Delaware is on a level plain, with the lowest mean elevation of any state in the nation. [44] Its highest elevation, located at Ebright Azimuth, near Concord High School, is less than 450 feet (140 m) above sea level. [44] The northernmost part of the state is part of the Piedmont Plateau with hills and rolling surfaces.

The Atlantic Seaboard fall line approximately follows the Robert Kirkwood Highway between Newark and Wilmington south of this road is the Atlantic Coastal Plain with flat, sandy, and, in some parts, swampy ground. [45] A ridge about 75 to 80 feet (23 to 24 m) high extends along the western boundary of the state and separates the watersheds that feed Delaware River and Bay to the east and the Chesapeake Bay to the west.

Climate Edit

Since almost all of Delaware is a part of the Atlantic coastal plain, the effects of the ocean moderate its climate. The state lies in the humid subtropical climate (Cfa) zone. Despite its small size (roughly 100 miles (160 km) from its northernmost to southernmost points), there is significant variation in mean temperature and amount of snowfall between Sussex County and New Castle County. Moderated by the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay, the southern portion of the state has a milder climate and a longer growing season than the northern portion of the state. Delaware's all-time record high of 110 °F (43 °C) was recorded at Millsboro on July 21, 1930. The all-time record low of −17 °F (−27 °C) was also recorded at Millsboro, on January 17, 1893. The hardiness zones are 7a and 7b.

Environment Edit

The transitional climate of Delaware supports a wide variety of vegetation. In the northern third of the state are found Northeastern coastal forests and mixed oak forests typical of the northeastern United States. [46] In the southern two-thirds of the state are found Middle Atlantic coastal forests. [46] Trap Pond State Park, along with areas in other parts of Sussex County, for example, support the northernmost stands of bald cypress trees in North America.

Environmental management Edit

Delaware provides government subsidy support for the clean-up of property "lightly contaminated" by hazardous waste, the proceeds for which come from a tax on wholesale petroleum sales. [47]

Wilmington is the state's most populous city (70,635) and its economic hub. It is located within commuting distance of both Philadelphia and Baltimore. Dover is the state capital and the second most populous city (38,079).

Counties Edit

Cities Edit

Towns Edit

Towns (cont.) Edit

Villages Edit

Unincorporated places Edit

The table below lists the ten largest municipalities in the state based on the 2018 United States Census Estimate. [48]

Historical population
Census Pop.
180064,273 8.8%
181072,674 13.1%
182072,749 0.1%
183076,748 5.5%
184078,085 1.7%
185091,532 17.2%
1860112,216 22.6%
1870125,015 11.4%
1880146,608 17.3%
1890168,493 14.9%
1900184,735 9.6%
1910202,322 9.5%
1920223,003 10.2%
1930238,380 6.9%
1940266,505 11.8%
1950318,085 19.4%
1960446,292 40.3%
1970548,104 22.8%
1980594,338 8.4%
1990666,168 12.1%
2000783,600 17.6%
2010897,934 14.6%
2020989,948 10.2%
Source: 1910–2020 [49]

The United States Census Bureau determined that the population of Delaware was 989,948 on April 1, 2020, [50] an increase since the 2010 United States census at 897,934. [51] [52]

Delaware's history as a border state has led it to exhibit characteristics of both the Northern and the Southern regions of the United States. Generally, the rural Southern (or "Slower Lower") regions of Delaware below the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal embody a Southern culture, [53] [54] while densely-populated Northern Delaware above the canal—particularly Wilmington, a part of the Philadelphia metropolitan area—has more in common with that of the Northeast. [55] The U.S. Census Bureau designates Delaware as one of the South Atlantic States, but it is commonly associated with the Mid-Atlantic States and/or Northeastern United States by other federal agencies, the media, and some residents. [56] [57] [58] [59] [60] [61]

Delaware is the sixth most densely populated state, with a population density of 442.6 people per square mile, 356.4 per square mile more than the national average, and ranking 45th in population. Delaware is one of five U.S. states (Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming) that do not have a single city with a population over 100,000 as of the 2010 census. [62] The center of population of Delaware is in New Castle County, in the town of Townsend. [63]

As of 2011 [update] , 49.7% of Delaware's population younger than one year of age belonged to minority groups (i.e., did not have two parents of non-Hispanic white ancestry). [64] In 2000 approximately 19% of the population were African-American and 5% of the population is Hispanic (mostly of Puerto Rican or Mexican ancestry). [65]

Race and ethnicity Edit

According to the 2010 United States census, the racial composition of the state was 68.9% White American (65.3% non-Hispanic white, 3.6% White Hispanic), 21.4% Black or African American, 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, 3.2% Asian American, 0.0% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 3.4% some other race, and 2.7% Multiracial American. Ethnically, Hispanics and Latin Americans of any race made up 8.2% of the population. [66] The 2019 American Community Survey estimated the state had a racial and ethnic makeup of 61.% non-Hispanic whites, 23.2% Black or African American, 0.7% American Indian or Alaska Native, 4.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.7% multiracial, and 9.6% Hispanic or Latin American of any race. [67]

In the Native American community, the state has a Native American group (called in their own language Lenni Lenape) which was influential in the colonial period of the United States and is today headquartered in Cheswold, Kent County, Delaware. [68] A band of the Nanticoke tribe of American Indians today resides in Sussex County and is headquartered in Millsboro, Sussex County, Delaware. [69]

Delaware racial breakdown of population
Racial composition 1990 [70] 2000 [71] 2010 [72]
White 80.3% 74.6% 68.9%
Black 16.9% 19.2% 21.4%
Asian 1.4% 2.1% 3.2%
Native 0.3% 0.4% 0.5%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
Other race 1.1% 2.0% 3.4%
Two or more races 1.7% 2.7%

Birth data Edit

Note: Births in table do not add up because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.

  • Since 2016, data for births of White Hispanic origin are not collected, but included in one Hispanic group persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

Languages Edit

As of 2000, 91% of Delaware residents of age 5 and older spoke only English at home 5% spoke Spanish. French was the third-most spoken language at 0.7%, followed by Chinese at 0.5% and German at 0.5%.

Legislation had been proposed in both the House and the Senate in Delaware to designate English as the official language. [80] [81] Neither bill was passed in the legislature.

Sexual orientation Edit

A 2012 Gallup poll found that Delaware's proportion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults stood at 3.4 percent of the population. This constitutes a total LGBT adult population estimate of 23,698 people. The number of same-sex couple households in 2010 stood at 2,646. This grew by 41.65% from a decade earlier. [82] [ not specific enough to verify ] On July 1, 2013, same-sex marriage was legalized, and all civil unions would be converted into marriages. [83]

Religion Edit

As of 2014 [update] , Delaware is mostly Christian. Although Protestants account for almost half of the population, [84] the Catholic Church is the largest single denomination in the state. The Association of Religion Data Archives [85] reported in 2010 that the three largest denominational groups in Delaware by number of adherents are the Catholic Church at 182,532 adherents, the United Methodist Church with 53,656 members reported, and non-denominational Evangelical Protestant with 22,973 adherents reported. The religious body with the largest number of congregations is the United Methodist Church (with 158 congregations) followed by non-denominational Evangelical Protestant (with 106 congregations), then the Catholic Church (with 45 congregations).

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware oversee the parishes within their denominations. The A.U.M.P. Church, the oldest African-American denomination in the nation, was founded in Wilmington. It still has a substantial presence in the state. Reflecting new immigrant populations, an Islamic mosque has been built in the Ogletown area, and a Hindu temple in Hockessin.

Delaware is home to an Amish community which resides west of Dover in Kent County, consisting of nine church districts and about 1,650 people. The Amish first settled in Kent County in 1915. In recent years, increasing development has led to the decline in the number of Amish living in the community. [86] [87] [88]

A 2012 survey of religious attitudes in the United States found that 34% of Delaware residents considered themselves "moderately religious", 33% "very religious", and 33% as "non-religious". [89] At the 2014 Pew Research survey, 23% of the population were irreligious.

Affluence Edit

Average sale price for new & existing homes (in U.S. dollars) [90]
DE County March 2010 March 2011
New Castle 229,000 216,000
Sussex 323,000 296,000
Kent 186,000 178,000

According to a 2020 study by Kiplinger, Delaware had the seventeenth largest number of millionaires per capita in the United States, with a ratio of 6.98 percent, 0.7 percent from 2013 in ration but falling eight places in ranking. Delaware had 25,937 millionaires as of 2020. The median income for all Delaware households as of 2020 was $64,805. [91] [92]

Agriculture Edit

Delaware's agricultural output consists of poultry, nursery stock, soybeans, dairy products and corn.

Industries Edit

As of October 2019 [update] , the state's unemployment rate was 3.7%. [93]

The state's largest employers are: [ dubious – discuss ]

  • government (State of Delaware, New Castle County)
  • education (University of Delaware, Delaware Technical Community College)
  • banking (Bank of America, M&T Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank)
  • chemical, pharmaceutical, technology (DuPont de Nemours Inc., AstraZeneca, Syngenta, Agilent Technologies)
  • healthcare (Christiana Care Health System (Christiana Hospital), Bayhealth Medical Center, Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children)
  • farming, specifically chicken farming in Sussex County (Perdue Farms, Mountaire Farms, Allen Family Foods)
  • retail (Walmart, Walgreens, Acme Markets)

Industrial decline Edit

Since the mid-2000s, Delaware has seen the departure of the state's automotive manufacturing industry (General Motors Wilmington Assembly and Chrysler Newark Assembly), the corporate buyout of a major bank holding company (MBNA), the departure of the state's steel industry (Evraz Claymont Steel), the bankruptcy of a fiber mill (National Vulcanized Fibre), [94] and the diminishing presence of AstraZeneca in Wilmington. [95] [96]

In late 2015, DuPont announced that 1,700 employees, nearly a third of its footprint in Delaware, would be laid off in early 2016. [97] The merger of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. and Dow Chemical Company into DowDuPont took place on September 1, 2017. [98] [99] [100] [101]

Incorporation in Delaware Edit

More than half of all U.S. publicly traded companies, and 63% of the Fortune 500, are incorporated in Delaware. [102] The state's attractiveness as a corporate haven is largely because of its business-friendly corporation law. Franchise taxes on Delaware corporations supply about a fifth of the state's revenue. [103] Although "USA (Delaware)" ranked as the world's most opaque jurisdiction on the Tax Justice Network's 2009 Financial Secrecy Index, [104] the same group's 2011 Index ranks the U.S. fifth and does not specify Delaware. [105] In Delaware, there are more than a million registered corporations, [106] meaning there are more corporations than people.

Food and drink Edit

Title 4, chapter 7 of the Delaware Code stipulates that alcoholic liquor be sold only in specifically licensed establishments, and only between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. [107] Until 2003, Delaware was among the several states enforcing blue laws and banned the sale of liquor on Sunday. [108]

Newspapers Edit

Two daily newspapers are based in Delaware, the Delaware State News, based in Dover and covering the two southern counties, and The News Journal covering Wilmington and northern Delaware. The state is also served by several weekly, monthly and online publications.

Television Edit

No standalone television stations are based solely in Delaware. The northern part of the state is served by network stations in Philadelphia and the southern part by network stations in Salisbury, Maryland. Philadelphia's ABC affiliate, WPVI-TV, maintains a news bureau in downtown Wilmington. Salisbury's CBS affiliate, WBOC-TV, maintains bureaus in Dover and Milton. Three Philadelphia-market stations—PBS member WHYY-TV, Ion affiliate WPPX, and MeTV affiliate WDPN-TV—all have Wilmington as their city of license, but maintain transmitters at the market antenna farm in Roxborough and do not produce any Delaware-centric programming.

Radio Edit

There are a numerous radio stations licensed in Delaware. WDEL 1150AM, WHGE-LP 95.3 FM, WILM 1450 AM, WJBR-FM 99.5, WMPH 91.7 FM, WSTW 93.7 FM, WTMC 1380 AM and WWTX 1290AM are licensed from Wilmington. WRDX 92.9 FM is licensed from Smyrna. WDOV 1410AM, WDSD 94.7 FM and WRTX 91.7 FM are licensed from Dover.

Rehoboth Beach, together with the towns of Lewes, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, and Fenwick Island, comprise Delaware's beach resorts. Rehoboth Beach often bills itself as "The Nation's Summer Capital" because it is a frequent summer vacation destination for Washington, D.C., residents as well as visitors from Maryland, Virginia, and in lesser numbers, Pennsylvania. Vacationers are drawn for many reasons, including the town's charm, artistic appeal, nightlife, and tax-free shopping. According to SeaGrant Delaware, the Delaware beaches generate $6.9 billion annually and over $711 million in tax revenue. [110]

Delaware is home to several festivals, fairs, and events. Some of the more notable festivals are the Riverfest held in Seaford, the World Championship Punkin Chunkin formerly held at various locations throughout the state since 1986, the Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival, the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral to mark the end of summer, the Apple Scrapple Festival held in Bridgeville, the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival in Wilmington, the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, the Sea Witch Halloween Festival and Parade in Rehoboth Beach, the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, the Nanticoke Indian Pow Wow in Oak Orchard, Firefly Music Festival, and the Return Day Parade held after every election in Georgetown.

In 2015, tourism in Delaware generated $3.1 billion, which makes up five percent of the state's GDP. Delaware saw 8.5 million visitors in 2015, with the tourism industry employing 41,730 people, making it the 4th largest private employer in the state. Major origin markets for Delaware tourists include Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Harrisburg, with 97% of tourists arriving to the state by car and 75% of tourists coming from a distance of 200 miles (320 km) or less. [111]

Delaware is also home to two large sporting venues. Dover International Speedway is a race track in Dover, and Frawley Stadium in Wilmington is the home of the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a Minor League Baseball team.

In the early 1920s, Pierre S. du Pont served as president of the state board of education. At the time, state law prohibited money raised from white taxpayers from being used to support the state's schools for black children. Appalled by the condition of the black schools, du Pont donated four million dollars to construct 86 new school buildings. [112]

Delaware was the origin of Belton v. Gebhart (1952), one of the four cases which were combined into Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court of the United States decision that led to the end of officially segregated public schools. Significantly, Belton was the only case in which the state court found for the plaintiffs, thereby ruling that segregation is unconstitutional.

Unlike many states, Delaware's educational system is centralized in a state Superintendent of Education, with local school boards retaining control over taxation and some curriculum decisions. This centralized system, combined with the small size of the state, likely contributed to Delaware becoming the first state, after completion of a three-year, $30 million program ending in 1999, to wire every K-12 classroom in the state to the Internet. [113]

As of 2011 [update] , the Delaware Department of Education had authorized the founding of 25 charter schools in the state, one of them being all-girls. [114]

All teachers in the State's public school districts are unionized. [115] As of January 2012 [update] , none of the State's charter schools are members of a teachers union. [115] One of the State's teachers' unions is Delaware State Education Association (DSEA), whose President as of January 2012 [update] is Frederika Jenner. [115]

Colleges and universities Edit

The transportation system in Delaware is under the governance and supervision of the Delaware Department of Transportation, also known as "DelDOT". [117] [118] Funding for DelDOT projects is drawn, in part, from the Delaware Transportation Trust Fund, established in 1987 to help stabilize transportation funding the availability of the Trust led to a gradual separation of DelDOT operations from other Delaware state operations. [119] DelDOT manages programs such as a Delaware Adopt-a-Highway program, major road route snow removal, traffic control infrastructure (signs and signals), toll road management, Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles, the Delaware Transit Corporation (branded as "DART First State", the state government public transportation organization), among others. In 2009, DelDOT maintained 13,507 lane-miles, totaling 89 percent of the state's public roadway system, the rest being under the supervision of individual municipalities. This far exceeds the national average (20 percent) for state department of transportation maintenance responsibility. [120]

Roads Edit

One major branch of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, Interstate 95 (I-95), crosses Delaware southwest-to-northeast across New Castle County. In addition to I-95, there are six U.S. highways that serve Delaware: U.S. 9, U.S. 13, U.S. 40, U.S. 113, U.S. 202, and U.S. 301. There are also several state highways that cross the state of Delaware a few of them include DE 1, DE 9, and DE 404. U.S. 13 and DE 1 are primary north–south highways connecting Wilmington and Pennsylvania with Maryland, with DE 1 serving as the main route between Wilmington and the Delaware beaches. DE 9 is a north–south highway connecting Dover and Wilmington via a scenic route along the Delaware Bay. U.S. 40 is a primary east–west route, connecting Maryland with New Jersey. DE 404 is another primary east–west highway connecting the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland with the Delaware beaches. The state also operates three toll highways, the Delaware Turnpike, which is I-95, between Maryland and New Castle the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway, which is DE 1, between Wilmington and Dover and the U.S. 301 toll road between the Maryland border and DE 1 in New Castle County.

A bicycle route, Delaware Bicycle Route 1, spans the north–south length of the state from the Maryland border in Fenwick Island to the Pennsylvania border north of Montchanin. It is the first of several signed bike routes planned in Delaware. [121]

Delaware has about 1,450 bridges, 95 percent of which are under the supervision of DelDOT. About 30 percent of all Delaware bridges were built before 1950, and about 60 percent of the number are included in the National Bridge Inventory. Some bridges not under DelDOT supervision includes the four bridges on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, which are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Delaware Memorial Bridge, which is under the bi-state Delaware River and Bay Authority. [ citation needed ]

It has been noted that the tar and chip composition of secondary roads in Sussex County makes them more prone to deterioration than are the asphalt roadways in almost the rest of the state. [122] Among these roads, Sussex (county road) 236 is among the most problematic. [122]

Ferries Edit

Three ferries operate in the state of Delaware:

    crosses the mouth of Delaware Bay between Lewes, Delaware, and Cape May, New Jersey. (a cable ferry) crosses the Nanticoke River southwest of Seaford. connects Delaware City with Fort Delaware and Fort Mott, New Jersey.

Rail and bus Edit

Amtrak has two stations in Delaware along the Northeast Corridor the relatively quiet Newark Rail Station in Newark, and the busier Wilmington Rail Station in Wilmington. The Northeast Corridor is also served by SEPTA's Wilmington/Newark Line of Regional Rail, which serves Claymont, Wilmington, Churchmans Crossing, and Newark.

Two Class I railroads, Norfolk Southern and CSX, provide freight rail service in northern New Castle County. Norfolk Southern provides freight service along the Northeast Corridor and to industrial areas in Edgemoor, New Castle, and Delaware City. CSX's Philadelphia Subdivision passes through northern New Castle County parallel to the Amtrak Northeast Corridor. Multiple short-line railroads provide freight service in Delaware. The Delmarva Central Railroad operates the most trackage of the short-line railroads, running from an interchange with Norfolk Southern in Porter south through Dover, Harrington, and Seaford to Delmar, with another line running from Harrington to Frankford and branches from Ellendale to Milton and from Georgetown to Gravel Hill. The Delmarva Central Railroad connects with the Maryland and Delaware Railroad, which serves local customers in Sussex County. [123] CSX connects with the freight/heritage operation, the Wilmington and Western Railroad, based in Wilmington and the East Penn Railroad, which operates a line from Wilmington to Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

The last north–south passenger trains through the main part of Delaware was the Pennsylvania Railroad's local Wilmington-Delmar train in 1965. [124] [125] This was a successor to the Del-Mar-Va Express and Cavalier, which had run from Philadelphia through the state's interior, to the end of the Delmarva Peninsula until the mid-1950s. [126] [127]

The DART First State public transportation system was named "Most Outstanding Public Transportation System" in 2003 by the American Public Transportation Association. Coverage of the system is broad within northern New Castle County with close association to major highways in Kent and Sussex counties. The system includes bus, subsidized passenger rail operated by Philadelphia transit agency SEPTA, and subsidized taxi and paratransit modes. The paratransit system, consisting of a statewide door-to-door bus service for the elderly and disabled, has been described by a Delaware state report as "the most generous paratransit system in the United States". [119] As of 2012 [update] , fees for the paratransit service have not changed since 1988. [119]

Air Edit

As of 2016 [update] , there is no scheduled air service from any Delaware airport, as has been the case in various years since 1991. Various airlines had served Wilmington Airport, the latest departure being Frontier Airlines in April 2015. [128]

Delaware is centrally situated in the Northeast megalopolis region of cities along I-95. Therefore, Delaware commercial airline passengers most frequently use Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) for domestic and international transit. Residents of Sussex County will also use Wicomico Regional Airport (SBY), as it is located less than 10 miles (16 km) from the Delaware border. Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) are also within a 100-mile (160 km) radius of New Castle County.

Other general aviation airports in Delaware include Summit Airport near Middletown, Delaware Airpark near Cheswold, and Delaware Coastal Airport near Georgetown.

Dover Air Force Base, one of the largest in the country, is home to the 436th Airlift Wing and the 512th Airlift Wing. In addition to its other responsibilities in the Air Mobility Command, it serves as the entry point and mortuary for U.S. military personnel (and some civilians) who die overseas.

Delaware's fourth and current constitution, adopted in 1897, provides for executive, judicial and legislative branches. [129]

Legislative branch Edit

The Delaware General Assembly consists of a House of Representatives with 41 members and a Senate with 21 members. It sits in Dover, the state capital. Representatives are elected to two-year terms, while senators are elected to four-year terms. The Senate confirms judicial and other nominees appointed by the governor.

Delaware's U.S. Senators are Tom Carper (Democrat) and Chris Coons (Democrat). Delaware's single U.S. Representative is Lisa Blunt Rochester (Democrat).

Judicial branch Edit

The Delaware Constitution establishes a number of courts:

  • The Delaware Supreme Court is the state's highest court.
  • The Delaware Superior Court is the state's trial court of general jurisdiction.
  • The Delaware Court of Chancery deals primarily in corporate disputes.
  • The Family Court handles domestic and custody matters.
  • The Delaware Court of Common Pleas has jurisdiction over a limited class of civil and criminal matters.

Minor non-constitutional courts include the Justice of the Peace Courts and Aldermen's Courts.

Significantly, Delaware has one of the few remaining Courts of Chancery in the nation, which has jurisdiction over equity cases, the vast majority of which are corporate disputes, many relating to mergers and acquisitions. The Court of Chancery and the Delaware Supreme Court have developed a worldwide reputation for rendering concise opinions concerning corporate law which generally (but not always) grant broad discretion to corporate boards of directors and officers. In addition, the Delaware General Corporation Law, which forms the basis of the Courts' opinions, is widely regarded as giving great flexibility to corporations to manage their affairs. For these reasons, Delaware is considered to have the most business-friendly legal system in the United States therefore a great number of companies are incorporated in Delaware, including 60% of the companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. [130]

Delaware was the last U.S. state to use judicial corporal punishment, in 1952. [131]

Executive branch Edit

The executive branch is headed by the Governor of Delaware. The present governor is John Carney (Democrat), who took office January 17, 2017. The lieutenant governor is Bethany Hall-Long. The governor presents a "State of the State" speech to a joint session of the Delaware legislature annually. [132]

Counties Edit

Delaware is subdivided into three counties from north to south they are New Castle, Kent and Sussex. This is the fewest among all states. Each county elects its own legislative body (known in New Castle and Sussex counties as County Council, and in Kent County as Levy Court), which deal primarily in zoning and development issues. Most functions which are handled on a county-by-county basis in other states—such as court and law enforcement—have been centralized in Delaware, leading to a significant concentration of power in the Delaware state government. The counties were historically divided into hundreds, which were used as tax reporting and voting districts until the 1960s, but now serve no administrative role, their only current official legal use being in real estate title descriptions. [133]

Politics Edit

The Democratic Party holds a plurality of registrations in Delaware. Until the 2000 presidential election, the state tended to be a Presidential bellwether, sending its three electoral votes to the winning candidate since 1952. This trend ended in 2000 when Delaware's electoral votes went to Al Gore by 13 percentage points. In 2004, John Kerry won Delaware by eight percentage points. In 2008, Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain in Delaware by 25 percentage points. Obama's running mate was Joe Biden, who had represented Delaware in the United States Senate since 1973 and was later inaugurated President of the United States in 2021. Obama carried Delaware by 19 percentage points in 2012. In 2016, Delaware's electoral votes went to Hillary Clinton by 11 percentage points. In 2020, Democratic nominee, former vice president and Delaware resident Joe Biden beat incumbent President Donald Trump in the state by over 19 percentage points. [134] Currently, Democrats hold all positions of authority in Delaware including Senate and House.

Delaware's swing to the Democrats is in part due to a strong Democratic trend in New Castle County, home to 55 percent of Delaware's population (the two smaller counties have only 359,000 people between them to New Castle County's 535,000). New Castle County has not voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988. In 1992, 2000, 2004, and 2016, the Republican presidential candidate carried both Kent and Sussex but lost by double digits each time in New Castle County, which was a large enough margin to swing the state to the Democrats. New Castle County also elects a substantial majority of the legislature 27 of the 41 state house districts and 14 of the 21 state senate districts are based in New Castle County.

The Democrats have held the governorship since 1993, having won the last seven gubernatorial elections in a row. Democrats presently hold all the nine statewide elected offices, while the Republicans last won two statewide offices in 2014, State Auditor and State Treasurer.

Freedom of information Edit

Each of the 50 states of the United States has passed some form of freedom of information legislation, which provides a mechanism for the general public to request information of the government. [135] In 2011 Delaware passed legislation placing a 15 business day time limit on addressing freedom-of-information requests, to either produce information or an explanation of why such information would take longer than this time to produce. [136]

Taxation Edit

Delaware has six different income tax brackets, ranging from 2.2% to 5.95%. The state does not assess sales tax on consumers. The state does, however, impose a tax on the gross receipts of most businesses. Business and occupational license tax rates range from 0.096% to 1.92%, depending on the category of business activity.

Delaware does not assess a state-level tax on real or personal property. Real estate is subject to county property taxes, school district property taxes, vocational school district taxes, and, if located within an incorporated area, municipal property taxes.

Gambling provides significant revenue to the state. For instance, the casino at Delaware Park Racetrack provided more than $100 million to the state in 2010. [138]

In June 2018, Delaware became the first U.S. state to legalize sports betting following the Supreme Court ruling to repeal The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). [139]

Voter registration Edit

Voter registration and party enrollment as of May 2021 [update] [140]
Party Number of voters Percentage
Democratic 363,062 47.75%
Republican 209,632 27.57%
Unaffiliated 169,550 22.30%
Independent Party of Delaware 9,724 1.28%
Libertarian 2,147 0.28%
Non-partisan 1,169 0.15%
Conservative 780 0.10%
Green 751 0.10%
Liberal 682 0.09%
American Delta Party 652 0.09%
Others 604 0.08%
American Independent Party 591 0.08%
Working Families Party 357 0.05%
Constitution 278 0.04%
Socialist Workers Party 131 0.02%
Blue Enigma Party 95 0.01%
Natural Law Party 85 0.01%
Reform 46 0.01%
Total 760,336 100%

Festivals Edit

Sports Edit

As Delaware has no franchises in the major American professional sports leagues, many Delawareans follow either Philadelphia or Baltimore teams. In the WNBA, the Washington Mystics enjoy a major following due to the presence of Wilmington native and University of Delaware product Elena Delle Donne. The University of Delaware's football team has a large following throughout the state, with the Delaware State University and Wesley College teams also enjoying a smaller degree of support.

Delaware is home to Dover International Speedway and Dover Downs. DIS, also known as the Monster Mile, is one of only 10 tracks in the nation to have hosted 100 or more NASCAR Cup Series races. Dover Downs is a popular harness racing facility. It is the only co-located horse- and car-racing facility in the nation, with the Dover Downs track located inside the DIS track.

Delaware is represented in rugby by the Delaware Black Foxes, a 2015 expansion club.

Delaware has been home to professional wrestling outfit Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW). CZW has been affiliated with the annual Tournament of Death and ECWA with its annual Super 8 Tournament.

Delaware's official state sport is bicycling. [141]

Prominent Delawareans include the du Pont family of politicians and businesspersons and the Biden family among whom Joe Biden is notable as the 46th and current President of the United States.

Delaware - History

General Delaware State History

Delaware's history is a long and proud one. Early explorations of our coastline were made by the Spaniards and Portuguese in the sixteenth century, by Henry Hudson in 1609 under the auspices of the Dutch, by Samuel Argall in 1610, by Cornelius May in 1613, and by Cornelius Hendricksen in 1614.

During a storm, Argall was blown off course and sailed into a strange bay which he named in honor of his governor. It is doubtful that Lord De La Warr ever saw, or explored, the bay, river, and state which today bears his name. In 1631, 11 years after the landing of the English pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts, the first white settlement was made on Delaware soil.

A group of Dutchmen formed a trading company headed by Captain David Pietersen de Vries for the purpose of enriching themselves from the New World. The expedition of about 30 individuals sailed from the town of Hoorn under the leadership of Captain Peter Heyes in the ship De Walvis (The Whale). Their settlement, called Zwaanendael, meaning valley of swans, was located near the present town of Lewes on the west bank of the Lewes Creek, today the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal.

Arriving in the New World in 1632 to visit the colony, Captain de Vries found the settlers had been killed and their buildings burned by the Indians.

No further attempts at colonization were made on Delaware soil until 1638, when the Swedes established their colony in present Wilmington, which was not only the first permanent settlement in Delaware, but in the whole Delaware River Valley and North America. The first expedition, consisting of two ships, Kalmar Nyckel (Key of Kalmar) and Vogel Grip (Griffen), under the leadership of Peter Minuit, landed about March 29. The location of the first Swedish settlement was at "The Rocks," on the Christina River, near the foot of Seventh Street. A fort was built called Fort Christina after the young queen of Sweden, and the river was likewise named for her.

The most important Swedish governor was Colonel Johan Printz, who ruled the colony under Swedish law for ten years, from 1643 to 1653. He was succeeded by Johan Rising, who upon his arrival in 1654, seized the Dutch post, Fort Casmir, which the governor of the Colony of New Netherlands had built in 1651, on the site of the present town of New Castle.

Rising governed the Swedish Colony from his headquarters at Fort Christina until the autumn of 1655, when Peter Stuyvesant came from New Amsterdam with a Dutch fleet, subjugated the Swedish forts, and established the authority of the Colony of New Netherlands throughout the area formerly controlled by the Colony of New Sweden. This marked the end of Swedish rule in Delaware, but the cultural, social, and religious influence of these Swedish settlers has had a lasting effect upon the cultural life of the people in this area and upon subsequent westward migrations of many generations. Old Swedes (Holy Trinity) Church built by the Swedes at Wilmington in 1698 was supplied by the Mother Church with missionaries until after the Revolution. It is one of the oldest Protestant Churches in North America.

Fort Christina State Park in Wilmington, with the fine monument created by the noted sculptor, Carl Milles, and presented by the people of Sweden, perpetuates the memory of these first settlers and preserves "The Rocks" where they first landed.

Following the seizure of the colony of New Sweden, the Dutch restored the name of Fort Casmir and made it the principal settlement of the Zuidt or South River as contrasted with the North or Hudson River. In a short time the area within the fort was not large enough to accommodate all the settlers so that a town, named New Amstel (now New Castle), was laid out.

The year 1681 marked the granting of the Province of Pennsylvania to William Penn by King Charles II and the arrival of Penn's agents on the Delaware River. They soon reported to the proprietor that the new province would be landlocked if the colonies on either side of the Delaware River or Bay were hostile. As a result of Penn's petition to the Crown for the land on the west side of the Delaware River and Bay below his province, the Duke of York in March 1682 conveyed, by deeds and leases now exhibited by the Delaware State Archives in the Hall of Records at Dover, the land included in the Counties of New Castle, St. Jones, and Deale. On October 27 of the same year, William Penn landed in America first at New Castle and there took possession from the Duke of York's agents as Proprietor of the lower Counties. On this occasion, the colonists subscribed an oath of allegiance to the new proprietor, and the first general assembly was held in the colony. The following year the three Lower Counties were annexed to the Province of Pennsylvania as territories with full privileges under Penn's famous "Frame of Government." Also in this year, the counties of St. Jones and Deale were renamed Kent and Sussex Counties respectively.

After 1682, a long dispute ensued between William Penn and Lord Baltimore of the Province of Maryland as to the exact dominion controlled by Penn on the lower Delaware.

The dispute continued between the heirs of Baltimore and Penn until almost the end of the colonial period. In 1776 at the time of the Declaration of Independence, Delaware not only declared itself free from the British Empire, but also established a state government entirely separate from Pennsylvania. Delaware's boundaries were surveyed in 1763-68 by the noted English scientists, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.

With the advent to the Revolution nearly 4,000 men enlisted for service from the small state. The colonial wars had built up the militia system and supplied a number of capable officers who led the troops of Delaware in all the principal engagements from the battle of Long Island to the siege of Yorktown. The only Revolutionary engagement fought on Delaware soil was the battle of Cooch's Bridge, near Newark, on September 3, 1777.

An important stimulus to the recovery of the state's economy after the war was the invention in 1785 by Oliver Evans of Newport, Delaware, of automatic flour milling machinery, revolutionizing the industry.

In the following year, John Dickinson of Delaware presided over the Annapolis Convention, which called for the Federal Constitutional Convention, that met in Philadelphia the next year. When the new Constitution was submitted to the states for ratification, Delaware was the first of the thirteen original states to ratify the Constitution of the United States. This unanimous ratification took place in a convention of Dover on December 7, 1787, whereby Delaware became "The First State" of the new Federal Union. Proud of this heritage, Delawareans continue to honor the traditions which made them the First State to ratify the United States Constitution, the document that continues to protect our nation's justice, strength, and liberty.

Facts & Symbols

Discover what makes the First State unique. Learn the origins and adoption of state symbols and facts. Read the history and traditions which influenced the selection of each fact.

If you or someone you know many have any other additional Delaware facts we would like to hear from you.

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State Bird

Blue Hen

Adopted on April 14, 1939, the Blue Hen chicken had long been used as a motif in numerous political campaigns and in many publications. During the Revolutionary War, the men of Captain Jonathan Caldwell's company, recruited in Kent County, took with them game chickens that were said to be of the brood of a famous Blue Hen and were noted for their fighting ability. When not fighting the enemy, the officers and men amused themselves by pitting their Blue Hen chickens in cockfights. The fame of these cockfights spread throughout the army and when in battle, the Delaware men fought so valiantly that they were compared to these fighting cocks.

State Dog

Rescue Dogs

Signed on May 15, 2019, the state dog of Delaware is rescue dogs. There are many animal welfare agencies in the State of Delaware who are proud to provide care for these homeless dogs, striving to enhance the well-being of companion animals and committing to ending pet overpopulation. Animal shelters and rescue groups are brimming with happy, healthy dogs just waiting for someone to take them home.

State Fish


In recognition of sport fishing’s overall recreational and economic contributions to the state of Delaware and of the specific values of the weakfish (Cynoscion genus) as a game and food fish, the state Legislature adopted the weakfish as Delaware's State fish in 1981. This fish is also known as sea trout, gray trout, yellow mouth, yellow fin trout, squeteague, and tiderunner.

State Marine Animal

Horseshoe Crab

Recognizing its great importance and value, the horseshoe crab was designated as Delaware’s official marine animal on June 25, 2002. These invertebrates contain a compound, limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL), that is used to detect bacterial poisons in certain medications, vaccines and medical devices. Chitin, a natural polymer found in the horseshoe crab’s shell, is used to make bandages. The horseshoe crab is used in vision studies, because their complex eye structure is similar to the human eye. It is the principal food source for over a million shore birds. Delaware Bay is the home to more horseshoe crabs than any other place in the world.

State Wildlife Animal

Grey Fox

Adopted June 10, 2010, the grey fox is a unique and primitive species, believed to be between 7 and 10 million years old, which is indigenous to Delaware. It is a swift and powerful animal capable of running up to 28 miles per hours and the only member of the canid family which is able to climb trees. The fourth grade students at Joseph M. McVey Elementary School, as part of teacher Paul Sedacca's lessons on persuasive writing, suggested that the grey fox be designated as Delaware's official state wildlife animal. Since it does not hibernate, the students said that it is "always ready like our soldiers at Dover Air Force Base".


Delaware ranks 49th in the nation with a total area of 1,982 square miles, (approximately 5,133.36 sq km). New Castle County is 438 square miles (1,134.41 sq km). Kent County is 594 square miles (1,538.45 sq km). Sussex County is 950 square miles(2,460.49 sq km). Delaware is 96 miles (154.497 km) long and varies from 9 to 35 miles (14.4841 km to 56.327 km) in width.


Delaware's climate is moderate year round. Average monthly temperatures range from 75.8° to 32.0° degrees (24.33° to 0.00°C). Average temperature in the summer months is 74.3° degrees. About 57% of the days are sunny. Annual precipitation is approximately 45 inches. Temperatures along the Atlantic Coast are about 10° degrees warmer in winter and 10° degrees cooler in summer. The average growing season varies from 170 to 200 days.


State Highest Elevation


Ebright Azimuth is the state's highest elevation point at 447.85 feet, (136.50 meters), above sea level near Ebright Road in New Castle County. Learn more about Ebright Azimuth here.

State Lowest Elevation

Sea Level along the Coast

Delaware's lowest elevation is at sea level along the state's coast

State Location

On the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, Delaware is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay, as well as by the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Delaware's location affords easy access to the major metropolitan areas of the Northeast. Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore are all within a 2-hour drive.



December 7, 1787

State Motto

"Liberty and Independence"

State Nickname

"The First State"

Delaware is known by this nickname due to the fact that on December 7, 1787, it became the first of the 13 original states to ratify the U.S. Constitution. “The First State” became the official State nickname on May 23, 2002 following a request by Mrs. Anabelle O'Malley's First Grade Class at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School.

Other Nicknames

"The Diamond State"

Thomas Jefferson gave this nickname to Delaware, according to legend, because he described Delaware as a "jewel" among states due to its strategic location on the Eastern Seaboard.

"Blue Hen State"

This nickname was given to Delaware after the fighting Blue Hen Cocks that were carried with the Delaware Revolutionary War Soldiers for entertainment during Cockfights.

"Small Wonder"

This nickname was given to Delaware due to its size and the contributions it has made to our country as a whole and the beauty of Delaware.

State Capital


The town of New Castle, a port on the Delaware River, became the colonial capital of the "Three Lower Counties" (Delaware) in 1704. Under Pennsylvania's Deputy Governor John Evans, the assemblies of the colonies of Pennsylvania and Delaware separated though legislation enacted in both assemblies still required the Pennsylvania governor's signature. In November of 1704, four representatives from each county - New Castle, Kent, and Sussex met in the town and passed the colony's first two laws. One confirmed all laws previously enacted by the joint assembly of the colonies of Pennsylvania and Delaware. The second law changed the number of representatives from each county from four to six.

William Rodeney (as he spelled his name) of Kent County, grandfather of Caesar Rodney, served as the first-known speaker of the assembly. His grandson, Caesar, presided over the last colonial assembly in Delaware. The "Three Lower Counties" remained a part of Pennsylvania until 1776 when economic, cultural, and political differences fostered a permanent separation. The capital was moved from New Castle to Dover in 1777.

State Government

Delaware became a state on June 15, 1776, when the Delaware Assembly formally adopted a resolution declaring an end to Delaware’s status as a colony of Great Britain and establishing the three counties as an independent state under the authority of “the Government of the Counties of New Castle, Kent and Sussex Upon Delaware.” After the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the Delaware Assembly called a special constitutional convention, which assembled at New Castle on August 27, 1776. On September 11, 1776, the convention enacted the Delaware Declaration of Rights, similar in style to the later U.S. Bill of Rights. On September 21, 1776, the convention enacted the first Delaware Constitution. That first constitution served the state for a period of some 16 years until Delaware’s second state constitution was enacted by another constitutional convention in 1792. Our third state constitution was enacted in 1831 and our fourth, and current, constitution was enacted in 1897. Today, Delaware has a cabinet form of government.

The General Assembly, Delaware's lawmaking body, is comprised of a State House of Representatives, whose 41 members are elected for two-year terms, and a State Senate, whose 21 members are elected for four-year terms. Half of the Senate seats are contested in each general election.

The State Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and four associate justices. All members are appointed by the governor, with confirmation by the Senate, for a term of 12 years.

History of Delaware

Long before the City of Delaware came into existence, Mingo, and Shawnee Indian tribes lived in the area and settlements were established where the future town would develop.

In 1804, Moses Byxbe arrived in central Ohio from Berkshire County,

Sandusky and William Street, looking north

Massachusetts. He had acquired a large number of land grants which were part of the United States Military lands, given in payment to Revolutionary War soldiers. In the spring of 1808, Byxbe laid out a town on the east bank of the Olentangy River but a few days later changed his mind about the most suitable location and platted the town on the west bank.

On May 9, 1808, Byxbe filed or, “platted” the, “plan of the town of Delaware,” marking the real beginning of the present City of Delaware.

Byxbe (1756-1826) was a man of exceptional energy, courage and drive who shaped the City of Delaware’s future during its formative years. He accomplished a great deal in a little more than 20 years on the Ohio frontier – Delaware’s founding and planning, growing a local economy, the enlistment of capable civic partners, and even an attempt to locate Ohio’s capital in Delaware. The tough-mindedness that served Byxbe well in Delaware’s early days also drew its share of detractors, but there is general agreement that Byxbe excelled at attracting high-caliber settlers who formed the basic population upon which Delaware was founded.

Following the War of 1812, settlers began arriving at a faster pace, including the parents of Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States. Hayes was born in Delaware and met his future wife, Lucy, at Ohio Wesleyan University. Ohio Wesleyan was founded in 1842 by Methodists seeking to establish a liberal arts college.

Prior to the Civil War, Delaware had Northern sympathies and abolitionists brought the Underground Railway through the area. The local Africa Road owes it name to this era. Camp Delaware, a Civil War-era camp for soldiers was one of the few from which African-American soldiers deployed to fight for the Union. During and following the War, railroads played an important role in expanding the markets of Delaware. By 1900, Delaware had its own electric street railway, and an electric interurban rail connected the community with Columbus and Marion, located about 20 miles to the north.

In the modern era, residential and industrial development has flourished. The proximity to Columbus, as well as historic periods of growth and prosperity, has greatly influenced the Delaware economy. Its history, however, is carefully preserved in its many 19th century buildings and homes, its comfortable scale and “home town” pace of life.

Delaware News

Programs explore the sinking of the DeBraak, readings of the Declaration of Independence, a historical trivia event and different perspectives on the American Revolution.

Video explores Black life in Delaware 1790–1840

Video explores anti-slavery activity in Delaware in the late-18th century and the subsequent passage of repressive legislation targeting free Blacks in the 19th century.

Historical Affairs sponsors 6 programs in May

The archaeology series “History Unearthed,” “Trivia Night” and “The Wreck of the DeBraak” will be explored.

Burial Ground Identified At John Dickinson Plantation

Site likely to hold the remains of enslaved African Americans.

Historical Affairs Sponsors Seven Programs During April 2021

Programs help to tell the story of the First State’s contributions to the history and culture of the United States.

Historical Affairs to Sponsor 5 Programs During July 2021

Programs explore the sinking of the DeBraak, readings of the Declaration of Independence, a historical trivia event and different perspectives on the American Revolution.

Video explores Black life in Delaware 1790–1840

Video explores anti-slavery activity in Delaware in the late-18th century and the subsequent passage of repressive legislation targeting free Blacks in the 19th century.

Historical Affairs sponsors 6 programs in May

The archaeology series “History Unearthed,” “Trivia Night” and “The Wreck of the DeBraak” will be explored.

Burial Ground Identified At John Dickinson Plantation

Site likely to hold the remains of enslaved African Americans.

Historical Affairs Sponsors Seven Programs During April 2021

Programs help to tell the story of the First State’s contributions to the history and culture of the United States.

English settlers

Meanwhile, said G. Ray Thompson, director of the Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University, the English settlers at Jamestown were extending their territory.

Early Sussex County deeds show an influx of new landowners from nearby Maryland and the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Thompson said the timing of the movement of settlers to Delmarva may be tracked to the first great massacre at Jamestown in 1622, when 347 residents were killed and crops and livestock burned along with plantations.

The migrants were drawn north up the peninsula — first to Northampton and Accomack counties in Virginia and then into Somerset County, Maryland, and into Sussex County. Thompson said they perceived the native Nanticokes as more placid. Then, by the 1650s, religious dissent became an issue.

"That settlement just keeps pushing north," he said.

Thompson said the thing that amazes him is how mobile these early settlers were.

"There is so much interchange and movement," he said. "We always think they were isolated, but they weren't."

At the same time over in Maryland, the religious tolerance that had marked early settlement started waning as that area became a royal colony.

Residents had to pay a tax to the Church of England, McCabe said, and that pushed many over into Delaware. William Penn, a Quaker, didn't collect a tax. Because of him, many Quakers migrated into northern Delaware.


The Town of Magnolia claims both Swedish and Dutch heritage but was formally founded in 1885 by citizens within the Murderkill Hundred, including Thomas H. McIlvaine, John B. Conner, Thomas Draper, James L. Heverin, William S. McLain, John W. Wall, Alexander Jackson, Jacob Prettyman, and Captain James Grier. These founders laid out the boundary of the town, designing it as a circle to represent brotherhood. They used chords to create a circular boundary with a one-quarter mile radius.

Magnolia was built approximately one mile from the St. Jones River and, according to folklore, originated because settlers depended on the river, but wanted to escape mosquitoes that accompanied it.

The original area where the town is located was known as Caroon Manor, a 3000-acre tract of land owned by the Duke of York. The Magnolia tree was the Duke’s favorite tree, hence, the name of the town. A number of magnolia trees planted throughout the town still exist. The Sons of Liberty played a part in the early legal system in Magnolia and also influenced the designation of a circular town boundary.

Churches have made a significant impact on the community of Magnolia. The Magnolia Methodist Church was built in 1856 and is located on Main Street. The church burned down on Pearl Harbor Day (December 7, 1941) when no one responded to the fire whistle because everyone thought the whistle was due to Pearl Harbor being bombed. The church was rebuilt soon afterwards. Motherkill Friends’ Burial Ground, a historic Quaker cemetery, is located adjacent to the town’s northeastern border. This area is known as the “Quaker Graveyard,” dating back to the late 1700s with fieldstones marking the gravesites.

The Town of Magnolia was officially recognized by the Delaware General Assembly as an incorporated area on April 3, 1885. There are two locations in Magnolia that appear on the National Register of Historic Places. One location is the John B. Lindale House, a privately owned residence that was built in the early 1900s that has both agricultural and architectural significance and was home to one of the last great peach barons in Delaware. A sign located outside the house proudly boasts:

“This is Magnolia, the center of the universe around which the earth revolves.”

The other registered location is the Matthew Lowber House, which also has architectural historical significance. Built in 1774 as a domestic dwelling, this Quaker mansion generated some publicity for Magnolia when it was physically lifted and moved from its original site to its present location in the early 1980s.

In 1928 Magnolia formed one of the first volunteer fire companies in the state, and around the same time installed its first water well. In 1957 the Legislature authorized a referendum to be held in Magnolia to decide whether the boundaries of the town should be extended in order to annex previously unincorporated areas. However, due to the limited services provided by the town, residents of the areas in question felt they would simply acquire a greater tax burden with few advantages. The referendum was defeated.

Possibly in response to this defeat, the town was reincorporated in 1960 with the scope of the town’s governmental authority greatly expanded. The council, with one member now designated as Mayor, was authorized to increase its borrowing limits to help finance new services and establish zoning ordinances to regulate growth within the town. The Town’s unique circular boundary has remained intact since 1885.

[Ed. Note: The Town’s complete early history has been fully documented by local author and former resident Hazel Wright Reynolds in her book Flower of Caroon Manor. Interested persons can contact Mayor James Frazier for further information on purchasing a copy.]

Delaware Maps and Gazetteers

The Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History at Salisbury University invites you to search its digital collection of historical Eastern Shore newspapers that provide a unique glimpse into a by-gone way of life, major events, and people. Made possible, in part, by a grant from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, this unique collection includes digitized regional newspapers from 1745 through 1922 and represents the Nabb Center’s commitment to preserving, providing access to, and facilitating research on these original resources.

Newspapers – This is the index to the newspapers that are available on microfilm at the Delaware Public Archives

Watch the video: WILMINGTON DELAWARE WORST HOODS (July 2022).


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