Delaware Colony

Delaware Colony

Overview
Delaware Colony in the North American Middle Colonies
Middle Colonies
The Middle Colonies comprised the middle region of the Thirteen Colonies of the British Empire in Northern America. In 1776 during the American Revolution, the Middle Colonies became independent of Britain as the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware.Much of the area was part of...

 was a region of the Province of Pennsylvania
Province of Pennsylvania
The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as Pennsylvania Colony, was founded in British America by William Penn on March 4, 1681 as dictated in a royal charter granted by King Charles II...

 although never legally a separate colony
Colony
In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception....

. From 1682 until 1776 it was part of the Penn proprietorship and was known as the lower counties. In 1701 it gained a separate Assembly from the three upper counties but had the same Governor as the rest of Pennsylvania.

The first European exploration of what would become the Delaware Bay and the Delaware River by the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 ship Halve Maen
Halve Maen
The Halve Maen was a Dutch East India Company vlieboot which sailed into what is now New York harbor in September 1609. It was commissioned by the Dutch Republic to covertly find an eastern passage to China...

under the command of Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson was an English sea explorer and navigator in the early 17th century. Hudson made two attempts on behalf of English merchants to find a prospective Northeast Passage to Cathay via a route above the Arctic Circle...

 in 1609.
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Delaware Colony in the North American Middle Colonies
Middle Colonies
The Middle Colonies comprised the middle region of the Thirteen Colonies of the British Empire in Northern America. In 1776 during the American Revolution, the Middle Colonies became independent of Britain as the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware.Much of the area was part of...

 was a region of the Province of Pennsylvania
Province of Pennsylvania
The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as Pennsylvania Colony, was founded in British America by William Penn on March 4, 1681 as dictated in a royal charter granted by King Charles II...

 although never legally a separate colony
Colony
In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception....

. From 1682 until 1776 it was part of the Penn proprietorship and was known as the lower counties. In 1701 it gained a separate Assembly from the three upper counties but had the same Governor as the rest of Pennsylvania.

Dutch and Swedish Settlement


The first European exploration of what would become the Delaware Bay and the Delaware River by the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 ship Halve Maen
Halve Maen
The Halve Maen was a Dutch East India Company vlieboot which sailed into what is now New York harbor in September 1609. It was commissioned by the Dutch Republic to covertly find an eastern passage to China...

under the command of Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson was an English sea explorer and navigator in the early 17th century. Hudson made two attempts on behalf of English merchants to find a prospective Northeast Passage to Cathay via a route above the Arctic Circle...

 in 1609. Follow-up expeditions by Cornelius May in 1613, and Cornelius Hendricksen in 1614 mapped the shoreline of what would become Delaware for inclusion in the New Netherlland colony. Initial Dutch settlement was centered up river at what is today Philadelphia and across the river from it. The first attempt to settle Europeans in the territories that would become the State of Delaware was not made until 1629 when agents of the Dutch West India Company
Dutch West India Company
Dutch West India Company was a chartered company of Dutch merchants. Among its founding fathers was Willem Usselincx...

 Gillis Hossitt and Jacob Jansz arrived to negotiate with the Native Americans to "purchase" land for a colony. (It was a rule among the Dutch that Native American land must always be purchased and never seized by force, but as the concept of land ownership was alien to the Americans, there was a great deal of cultural confusion attached to the transactions with the Dutch "payments" taken for gifts in keeping with Native custom.) Hossitt and Jansz secured a treaty granting the Dutch a parcel of land running along the shore eight Dutch miles long and half a Dutch mile deep (roughly 29 by just under 2 US miles), nearly coincidental with the coast of modern Sussex and Kent counties in Delaware.

In 1631 the Zwaanendael Colony
Zwaanendael Colony
Zwaanendael or Swaanendael was a short lived Dutch colonial settlement in Delaware. It was built in 1631. The name is archaic Dutch spelling for "swan valley" or dale...

 was established on this land, with the initial settlement at what is today Lewes Creek. A cultural misunderstanding with the Native Americans led to the massacre of the initial 28 colonists before a year was out. Patroon
Patroon
In the United States, a patroon was a landholder with manorial rights to large tracts of land in the 17th century Dutch colony of New Netherland in North America...

 David Pietersz. de Vries arrived shortly thereafter with an additional 50 settlers. Although he concluded a treaty with the Indians, deVries, his partners in Holland, and the Dutch West India Company decided the location was too dangerous for an immediate reattempt and the additional settlers were landed in New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam was a 17th-century Dutch colonial settlement that served as the capital of New Netherland. It later became New York City....

 (New York) instead.

In March 1638, the Kalmar Nyckel
Kalmar Nyckel
The Kalmar Nyckel was a Dutch-built armed merchant ship famed for carrying Finnish and Swedish settlers to North America in 1638 to establish the colony of New Sweden. A replica of the ship was launched at Wilmington, Delaware, in 1997.-History:The Kalmar Nyckel was constructed in about 1625 and...

anchored at a rocky point on the Minquas Kill that is known today as Swedes' Landing
Swedes' Landing
Swedes' Landing is the warehouse road found along the Minquas Kill in Wilmington, Delaware that is close to the Delaware River. This was the site where the initial Swedish landing took place and marks the spot where the New Sweden colony began. The first Swedish expedition to North America, under...

 (in Wilmington, Delaware.) The New Sweden Company
Swedish colonization of the Americas
The Swedish colonization of the Americas included a 17th-century colony on the Delaware River in what is now Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, as well as two possessions in the Caribbean during the 18th and 19th century....

 was organized and overseen by Clas Larsson Fleming
Clas Fleming (admiral)
Clas Larsson Fleming was an admiral and administrator involved in the development of a formal management structure for the Royal Swedish Navy under King Gustav II Adolf and Queen Christina. He was the son of Lars Hermansson Fleming, the governor of Åbo in present-day Finland...

, a Swedish admiral and administrator. Samuel Blommaert
Samuel Blommaert
Samuel Blommaert was a Flemish/Dutch merchant and director of the Dutch West India Company from 1622 to 1629 and again from 1636 to 1642...

, a Flemish
Flemish people
The Flemings or Flemish are the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Belgium, where they are mostly found in the northern region of Flanders. They are one of two principal cultural-linguistic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking Walloons...

 director of the Dutch West India Company
Dutch West India Company
Dutch West India Company was a chartered company of Dutch merchants. Among its founding fathers was Willem Usselincx...

  who had grown frustrated with the company's policies assisted the fitting-out The expedition was led, and had been instigated by Peter Minuit
Peter Minuit
Peter Minuit, Pieter Minuit, Pierre Minuit or Peter Minnewit was a Walloon from Wesel, in present-day North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, then part of the Duchy of Cleves. He was the Director-General of the Dutch colony of New Netherland from 1626 until 1633, and he founded the Swedish colony of...

, the founding governor of New Netherland
New Netherland
New Netherland, or Nieuw-Nederland in Dutch, was the 17th-century colonial province of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands on the East Coast of North America. The claimed territories were the lands from the Delmarva Peninsula to extreme southwestern Cape Cod...

 who had been dismissed by the Dutch West India Company which operated the colony as a concession. Minuit resented the company and was welll aware of the spareness of Dutch occupation along the Zuyd (Delaware) river valley. Like the Dutch colony it aimed to squat, New Sweden was a multicultural affair, with Finns, Dutch, Walloons (Belgians) and Germans as well as Swedes among the settlers.

The first outpost of the Swedish settlement was named Fort Christina
Fort Christina
Fort Christina was the first Swedish settlement in North America and the principal settlement of the New Sweden colony...

 (now WIlmington) after Queen Christina of Sweden. Governor Johan Björnsson Printz
Johan Björnsson Printz
Johan Björnsson Printz was governor from 1643 until 1653 of the Swedish colony of New Sweden on the Delaware River in North America.-Early Life in Sweden:...

 administered the colony from 1643 until 1653. He was succeeded by Johan Classon Risingh
Johan Rising
Johan Classon Risingh was the last governor of the Swedish colony of New Sweden.-Biography:Johan Classon Risingh was born in 1617 in Risinge, Östergötland, Sweden. After gymnasium at Linköping, he attended the University of Upsala and University of Leyden. From 1651 to 1653, he held the office of...

, the last governor of New Sweden. The Dutch had never accepted the Swedish colony as legitimate and the struggle between the forces of the Dutch West India Company and the officials and backers of New Sweden was on going. In 1651, New Netherland Governor Peter Stuyvesant
Peter Stuyvesant
Peter Stuyvesant , served as the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland from 1647 until it was ceded provisionally to the English in 1664, after which it was renamed New York...

 had removed Fort Nassau, which had been established upriver in what is now Glouster City, New Jersey and had it reassembled down river of Fort Christina as Fort Casimir
Fort Casimir
Fort Casimir was a Dutch settlement in 17th century colonial province of New Netherland. It was located on a no-longer existing barrier island at the end of Chestnut Street in what is now New Castle, Delaware...

, effectively encircling the Swedish colony. (The Dutch had previously built Fort Beversreede
Fort Beversreede
Fort Beversreede was a Dutch-built palisaded factorij located near the confluence of the Schuylkill River and the Delaware River. It was an outpost of the colony of New Netherland, which was centered around its capital, New Amsterdam , on the North River .-Location:There is a dispute about the...

, modern Philadelphia, upstream.) THree years later, the New Sweden colony attacked and seized the outpost, renaming it Fort Trinity.  The struggle finally came to an end in September 1655. With the Second Great Northern War raging in Europe, Stuyvesant assembled a sufficient army and naval squadron to capture the Swedish forts, thus re-establishing control of the colony. Fort Casimir/Trinity was again renamed as New Amstel (later translated to New Castle
New Castle, Delaware
New Castle is a city in New Castle County, Delaware, six miles south of Wilmington, situated on the Delaware River. In 1900, 3,380 people lived here; in 1910, 3,351...

) was made the center for fur trading and the colony’s administration headquarters and the area's European population began to boom.

English Conquest


In 1664, after Colonel Richard Nicolls
Richard Nicolls
Richard Nicolls was the first English colonial governor of New York province....

, captured New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam was a 17th-century Dutch colonial settlement that served as the capital of New Netherland. It later became New York City....

, Sir Robert Carr
Robert Carr
Leonard Robert Carr, Baron Carr of Hadley, PC is a British Conservative politician.Robert Carr was educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge where he read Natural Sciences, graduating in 1938....

 was sent to the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

. He took over New Amstel, pillaging it and brutally maltreating its settlers, some of whom he sold into slavery in Virginia. Carr translated the name from Dutch into English and it has been known since as New Castle
New Castle, Delaware
New Castle is a city in New Castle County, Delaware, six miles south of Wilmington, situated on the Delaware River. In 1900, 3,380 people lived here; in 1910, 3,351...

. Carr and his troops continued down the shore, ravaging and burning settlements, including the famous Mennonite utopian community of Pieter Corneliszoon Plockhoy
Pieter Corneliszoon Plockhoy
Pieter Corneliszoon Plockhoy Pieter Corneliszoon Plockhoy Pieter Corneliszoon Plockhoy (also Pieter Cornelisz Plockhoy van Zierikzee or Peter Cornelius van Zurick-zee, born c. 1625, possibly in Zierikzee, Netherlands, died c...

 near present day Lewes, Delaware
Lewes, Delaware
Lewes is an incorporated city in Sussex County, Delaware, USA, on the Delmarva Peninsula. According to the 2010 census, the population is 2,747, a decrease of 6.3% from 2000....

, which was utterly destroyed. This effectively ended the Dutch rule of the colony and, for that matter, ended their claims to any land in colonial North America. Delaware was thenceforth claimed by New York under a Deputy of the Duke of York
Duke of York
The Duke of York is a title of nobility in the British peerage. Since the 15th century, it has, when granted, usually been given to the second son of the British monarch. The title has been created a remarkable eleven times, eight as "Duke of York" and three as the double-barreled "Duke of York and...

 from 1664 to 1682, but not actually held in the Duke's possession nor his colonists, a situation taken advantage of by the proprietors of Maryland.

Durham County, Maryland


Between 1669-72, Delaware was an incorporated county under the Province of Maryland
Province of Maryland
The Province of Maryland was an English and later British colony in North America that existed from 1632 until 1776, when it joined the other twelve of the Thirteen Colonies in rebellion against Great Britain and became the U.S...

 (see here). When the Duke of York made use of his charter on behalf of courtier William Penn
William Penn
William Penn was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early champion of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful...

, through conveyances made by the governor of New York, there was a brief conflict of interest between the Catholic, Tory and whose son was likewise a sometime Jacobite sympathizer Lord Baltimore with their friend the aforesaid Duke, but this was a hard fought court battle subsequently relegated to a proprietary dispute between the Calvert and Penn families, since both were held in favor by both the King and Prince James. The Mason-Dixon line
Mason-Dixon line
The Mason–Dixon Line was surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon in the resolution of a border dispute between British colonies in Colonial America. It forms a demarcation line among four U.S. states, forming part of the borders of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and...

 is said to have legally resolved vague outlines in the overlap between Maryland and Pennsylvania, which pretty much awarded Delaware to Pennsylvania, although Delaware would eventually prove too independent for legislation north of New Castle (as well as that from the southerly Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

), leading to the separation from Pennsylvania and unique pioneer status as America's first state, tied to neither province's destiny. English speaking colonists in the area were more inclined towards the Calvert proprietorship, albeit Penn's religion and one of these men was the Irish Quaker forefather (James Nixon, 1731 arrival) of future President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

, while House Minority Leader, and presidential successor, Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

 owed his roots to a forefather not so distant, from Philadelphia, of the Devonshire King family.

New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties, Pennsylvania


The area now known as Delaware became owned by William Penn, the Quaker owner of Pennsylvania. In contemporary documents from the early Revolutionary
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 period, the area is generally referred to as "The Three Lower Counties on the Delaware River" (Lower Counties on Delaware) or by the names of the three counties, all of which retained linguistic and cultural connections to those of new york New Castle
New Castle County, Delaware
New Castle County is the northernmost of the three counties of the U.S. state of Delaware. As of 2010 its population was 538,479, an increase of 7.6% over the previous decade. The county seat is Wilmington. The center of population of Delaware is located in New Castle County, in the town of...

, which related well to North East England
North East England
North East England is one of the nine official regions of England. It covers Northumberland, County Durham, Tyne and Wear, and Teesside . The only cities in the region are Durham, Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland...

's Newcastle
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...

 as the defunct Durham County, Maryland (both Newcastle and Durham were relatively close to the Calvert regional identity as that of Northern England
Northern England
Northern England, also known as the North of England, the North or the North Country, is a cultural region of England. It is not an official government region, but rather an informal amalgamation of counties. The southern extent of the region is roughly the River Trent, while the North is bordered...

--and as landlords in County Longford
County Longford
County Longford is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Longford.Longford County Council is the local authority for the county...

, of the Irish Midlands, their barony shared some characteristics with the earlier English Catholic plantation by Mary I of England and Philip II of Spain in Queen's and King's brothers), while Kent
Kent County, Delaware
Kent County is a county located in the central part of the U.S. state of Delaware. It is coextensive with the Dover, Delaware, Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2010 the population was 162,310, a 28.1% increase over the previous decade. The county seat is Dover, the state capital...

 was contiguous with neighboring Kent County, Maryland
Kent County, Maryland
Kent County is a county located in the U.S. state of Maryland, on its Eastern Shore. It was named for the county of Kent in England. Its county seat is Chestertown. In 2010, the county population was 20,197...

 and Sussex
Sussex County, Delaware
Sussex County is a county located in the southern part of the U.S. state of Delaware. As of 2010 the population was 197,145, an increase of 25.9% over the previous decade. The county seat is Georgetown. The Seaford Micropolitan Statistical Area includes all of Sussex County.Sussex County is...

 generally held a similar origin to Sussex County, Virginia
Sussex County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 12,504 people, 4,126 households, and 2,809 families residing in the county. The population density was 26 people per square mile . There were 4,653 housing units at an average density of 10 per square mile...

, being the furthest removed from Penn's colony. The term "Lower Counties" refers to the fact that they were below the fall line
Fall line
A fall line is a geomorphologic unconformity between an upland region of relatively hard crystalline basement rock and a coastal plain of softer sedimentary rock. A fall line is typically prominent when crossed by a river, for there will often be rapids or waterfalls...

, or farther downstream, on the Delaware River than the counties constituting and integrally within Pennsylvania proper, such as Philadelphia, Chester and Bucks counties.

After William Penn was granted the province of Pennsylvania by King Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 in 1681, he asked for and later received the lands of Delaware from the Duke of York. Penn had a very hard time governing Delaware because the economy and geology was largely the same as that of the law he has ordered. He attempted to merge the governments of Pennsylvania and the lower counties of Delaware. Representatives from both areas clashed heavily and in 1701 Penn agreed in having two separate assemblies. Delawareans would meet in New Castle and Pennsylvanians would gather in Philadelphia. Delaware, like Philadelphia and unlike Maryland, continued to be a melting pot of sorts and was home to Swedes, Finns, Dutch, French, in addition to the English who constituted the dominant culture.

Other sources

  • Johnson Amandus
    Amandus Johnson
    Amandus Johnson was an American historian, author and founding curator of the American Swedish Historical Museum...

    . The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware, 1638-1664 (Philadelphia: Swedish Colonial Society, 1911)
  • Weslager, C. A. A Man and His Ship: Peter Minuit and the Kalmar Nyckel ( Kalmar Nyckel Foundation. Wilmington, Delaware. 1989)