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Information Connection: Delaware

States of the USA Article Index


Delaware Facts

  • Statehood: Dec. 7, 1787; the 1st state.
  • Nicknames: The First State; the Diamond State, Blue Hen State, Small Wonder.
  • Bird: Blue hen chicken.
  • Flower: Peach blossom.
  • Tree: American holly.
  • Motto: Liberty and Independence.
  • Song: "Our Delaware."
  • Area: 6,206 square km (2,396 square miles); rank: 49th.
  • Capital: Dover .
  • Largest city: Wilmington.
  • Counties: 3.
  • Elevations: highest 137 m (448 ft), in New Castle County; lowest sea level, at the Atlantic coast.

Delaware Government  

  • Electoral college votes: 3.
  • State legislature: 21 senators, 41 representatives.

Delaware Early History

Early explorations of the Delaware coastline were made by:

  • The Spaniards and Portuguese in the sixteenth century.
  • Henry Hudson in 1609.
  • Samuel Argall in 1610.
  • Cornelius May in 1613.
  • Cornelius Hendricksen in 1614.

The first white settlement was established in 1631, some 11 years after the English pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Some Dutchmen formed a trading company headed by Captain David Pietersen de Vries. Like everyone else making such an investment, the goal was to get rich. As with the California gold rush that would come about 200 years later, goals and reality often did not meet.

When he made his first visit to the colony in 1632, Captain de Vries found the settlement burned and the settlers killed. This put a chill on further settlement, which did not take place again until March of 1638.

This time, it was a Swedish attempt led by Peter Minuit. And it was successful. Located near present-day Wilmington, it was the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley. A nearby river was named after Queen Cristina of Sweden, as was Fort Cristina.

Among the colony's governors were Colonel Johan Printz (governed for 10 years), followed by Johan Rising. Rising was governor until autumn, 1655. His reason for job change was--you will recognize this name--Peter Stuyvesant arrived with the Dutch fleet.

While Stuyvesant ended Swedish rule, even today the Swedish influence persists socially, religiously, and culturally in this area of Delaware. In fact, Old Swedes (Holy Trinity) Church still exists today and is one of the oldest Protestant Churches in North America.

In 1681, William Penn got his grant of the Province of Pennsylvania. Following that were conflict and dispute over the lower Delaware area. And it lasted a long time! It wasn't until nearly the end of the colonial period that the conflict came to a close. In 1776, Delaware (along with 12 other colonies) declared itself free from British rule. But at the same time, it also established itself as a state separate from Pennsylvania.

You've no doubt heard of the Mason-Dixon line. That line exists due to a survey of Delaware's boundaries. Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon conducted this survey from 1763 to 68.

Compared to Pennsylvania, Delaware is tiny. But the state has long had a big heart. During the American Revolution, 4,000 enlisted troops came from Delaware. And it wasn't because Delaware was invaded. In fact, only one battle in the entire war took place in Delaware. That was the 03 SEP 1977 battle of Cooch's Bridge.

Because wars are a matter of killing and destroying, they are always economically negative. The Revolutionary War left the new country and its individual states with enormous financial burdens and a weak economy.

In Newport, DE, an inventor named Oliver Evans developed automatic flour milling machinery in 1785. The war revolutionized the country, but this invention revolutionized the milling industry. And unlike the war, this created wealth. It helped Delaware, and the nation, recover from the war. In fact, during Andrew Jackson's Presidency, the nation paid off all of its debts.

Some Famous Delaware People (All from Wilmington)

  • Valerie Bertinelli, actress.
  • E. I. du Pont, industrialist.
  • Henry Heimlich, surgeon, inventor.
  • Wilham Julius Johnson, basketball player.



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