History of Delaware

History of Delaware

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The history of Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

is the story of a small American state, in the middle of the original colonies, and yet until recently often overlooked by outsiders. Still, because of its geographic location and settlement pattern, its population has often been evenly divided on key issues in American history, so that it has seemed to represent the United States in miniature.

Delaware is made up of three counties established since 1680, before the time of 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...

. Each had its own settlement history. Their early inhabitants tended to identify more closely with the county than the colony or state. Large parts of southern and western Delaware were thought to have been in Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 until 1767. All of the state has existed in the wide economic and political circle of Philadelphia.

Native Americans


Before Delaware was settled by Europeans, the area was home to the Delaware
Lenape
The Lenape are an Algonquian group of Native Americans of the Northeastern Woodlands. They are also called Delaware Indians. As a result of the American Revolutionary War and later Indian removals from the eastern United States, today the main groups live in Canada, where they are enrolled in the...

 (also known as Lenni Lenape), Susquehanna, and other Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 tribes.

Dutch and Swedish colonies



The Delaware River watershed was claimed by the English
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 based on the explorations of John Cabot
John Cabot
John Cabot was an Italian navigator and explorer whose 1497 discovery of parts of North America is commonly held to have been the first European encounter with the continent of North America since the Norse Vikings in the eleventh century...

 in 1497, Captain John Smith
John Smith of Jamestown
Captain John Smith Admiral of New England was an English soldier, explorer, and author. He was knighted for his services to Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania and friend Mózes Székely...

 and others, and was given the name held as a title by Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr
Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr
Thomas West, 3rd and 12th Baron De La Warr was the Englishman after whom the bay, the river, and, consequently, an American Indian people and U.S. state, all later called "Delaware", were named....

, the Governor of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 from 1610 until 1618. At that time the area was considered to be part of the Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 colony.

However, the Dutch thought they also had a claim, based on the 1609 explorations 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...

, and under the auspices 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...

 were the first Europeans to actually occupy the land. They established trading posts in 1624 at "Hooghe Eyland" (High Island), now Burlington Island, opposite Burlington
Burlington, New Jersey
Burlington is a city in Burlington County, New Jersey, United States and a suburb of Philadelphia. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city population was 9,920....

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, in 1626 at Fort Nassau, now Gloucester City
Gloucester City, New Jersey
Gloucester City is a city in Camden County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2010 Census, the city population was 11,456.-Geography:Gloucester City is located at ....

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, and at Zwaanendael, now Lewes
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....

, Delaware in 1631. 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...

 was the Dutch Director-General of the New Netherlands during this period and probably spent some time at the Burlington Island post, thereby familiarizing himself with the region.

In any case, 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...

 had a falling out with the directors 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...

, was recalled from the New Netherlands, and promptly made his services available to his many friends in Sweden, then a major power in European politics. They established a New Sweden Company and, following much negotiation, he led a group under the flag of Sweden 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...

 in 1638. They established a trading post at Fort Christina
Fort Christina
Fort Christina was the first Swedish settlement in North America and the principal settlement of the New Sweden colony...

, now in Wilmington
Wilmington, Delaware
Wilmington is the largest city in the state of Delaware, United States, and is located at the confluence of the Christina River and Brandywine Creek, near where the Christina flows into the Delaware River. It is the county seat of New Castle County and one of the major cities in the Delaware Valley...

, Delaware. 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...

 claimed possession of the western side of 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...

, saying he had found no European settlement there. Unlike 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...

, the Swedes intended to actually bring settlers to their outpost and begin a colony.

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...

 drowned in a hurricane on the way home that same year, but the Swedish colony continued to grow gradually. By 1644, Swedish and Finnish settlers were living along both sides of 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...

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

 to the Schuylkill River
Schuylkill River
The Schuylkill River is a river in Pennsylvania. It is a designated Pennsylvania Scenic River.The river is about long. Its watershed of about lies entirely within the state of Pennsylvania. The source of its eastern branch is in the Appalachian Mountains at Tuscarora Springs, near Tamaqua in...

. New Sweden
New Sweden
New Sweden was a Swedish colony along the Delaware River on the Mid-Atlantic coast of North America from 1638 to 1655. Fort Christina, now in Wilmington, Delaware, was the first settlement. New Sweden included parts of the present-day American states of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania....

's best known 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:...

, moved his residence to what is now Tinicum Township, Pennsylvania, where he intended to concentrate the settlements.

While the Dutch settlement at Zwaanendael, or present day Lewes
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....

, was soon destroyed in a war with native Americans, the Dutch never gave up their claim to the area and, in 1651, under the leadership of 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...

, built Fort Casimir, now 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...

, Delaware. Three years later, in 1654, Johan Rising
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 Swedish governor captured 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...

 from the Dutch. For the Swedes, this was a catastrophic miscalculation as the next summer, 1655, an enraged 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...

 led another Dutch expedition 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...

, attacked all the Swedish communities and forcibly ended the New Sweden
New Sweden
New Sweden was a Swedish colony along the Delaware River on the Mid-Atlantic coast of North America from 1638 to 1655. Fort Christina, now in Wilmington, Delaware, was the first settlement. New Sweden included parts of the present-day American states of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania....

 colony, incorporating the whole area back into the 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...

 colony.

British colony



It was not long, though, before the Dutch too were forcibly removed by the English
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

, who asserted its earlier claim. In 1664, James, the Duke of York and brother of King Charles II, outfitted an expedition that easily ousted the Dutch from both the Delaware and Hudson Rivers, leaving the Duke of York the proprietary authority in the entire area.

But Cæcilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore
Cæcilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore
Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, 1st Proprietor and 1st Proprietary Governor of Maryland, 9th Proprietary Governor of Newfoundland , was an English peer who was the first proprietor of the Province of Maryland. He received the proprietorship after the death of his father, George Calvert, the...

, Proprietor of Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, claimed a competing grant to lands on the western shore of the Delaware Bay, including all of the present state of Delaware. In deference to the royal will of 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...

 to please his brother, James, Duke of York, Calvert did not press his claim. James, the Duke of York, believed he had won the area in war and was justified in ownership. The area was administered from New York as a part of James' New York colony.

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...

 was granted "Pennsylvania," which grant specifically excluded 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...

 or any of the lands within 12 miles of it. Nevertheless, Penn wanted an outlet to the sea from his new province. He persuaded James to lease him the western shore of the Delaware Bay. So, in 1682, 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...

 arrived in 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...

 with two documents: a charter for the Province of Pennsylvania and a lease for what became known as "the Lower Counties on the Delaware."

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...

 had inherited James' claims and thus began nearly 100 years of litigation between Penn and Baltimore, and their heirs, in the High Court of Chancery
Court of Chancery
The Court of Chancery was a court of equity in England and Wales that followed a set of loose rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness of the common law. The Chancery had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including trusts, land law, the administration of the estates of...

 in London. The settlement of the legal battles was started by the heirs' agreeing to the survey performed by Charles Mason
Charles Mason
Charles Mason was an English astronomer who made significant contributions to 18th-century science and American history, particularly through his involvement with the survey of the Mason-Dixon line, which came to mark the division between the northern and southern United States...

 and Jeremiah Dixon
Jeremiah Dixon
Jeremiah Dixon was an English surveyor and astronomer who is perhaps best known for his work with Charles Mason, from 1763 to 1767, in determining what was later called the Mason-Dixon line....

 between 1763 and 1767. Their work resulted in the famous 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...

. The final adjudication of the settlement was not completed until the eve of the American Revolution
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...

. The settlement was a major reason for the close political alliance between the property owners of the Lower Counties and the Royalist Proprietary government.

In 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...

's Frame of Government of 1682, he established a combined assembly for his domain by providing for equal membership from each county and requiring legislation to have the assent of both the Lower Counties and the Upper Counties
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 of Chester, Philadelphia and Bucks. The assembly meeting place alternated between Philadelphia and 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...

. Once Philadelphia began to grow, its leaders resented having to go 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...

 and gain agreement of the assemblymen from the sparsely populated Lower Counties. In 1704 members of the two regions mutually agreed to meet and pass laws separately from then on. The Lower Counties did continue to share a governor, but the Province of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 never merged with the Lower Counties.

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...

 forms the boundary between Delaware and Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

; this begins at the Transpeninsular Line
Transpeninsular Line
The Transpeninsular Line is a surveyed line, the eastern half of which forms the north-south border between Delaware and Maryland...

. The border between Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 and Delaware is formed by an arc
Arc (geometry)
In geometry, an arc is a closed segment of a differentiable curve in the two-dimensional plane; for example, a circular arc is a segment of the circumference of a circle...

 known as The Twelve-Mile Circle
The Twelve-Mile Circle
The Twelve-Mile Circle is an approximately circular arc which forms most of the boundary between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Delaware in the United States...

 laid out in the seventeenth century to clearly delineate the area within the sphere of influence of 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...

. A small dispute lingered until 1921 over an area known as The Wedge
The Wedge (border)
The Wedge is a small tract of land along the borders of Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Ownership of the land was disputed until 1921; it is now recognized as part of Delaware. The tract was created primarily due to the shortcomings of contemporary surveying techniques...

, where 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...

 and The Twelve-Mile Circle
The Twelve-Mile Circle
The Twelve-Mile Circle is an approximately circular arc which forms most of the boundary between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Delaware in the United States...

 left a fragment of land claimed by both Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 and Delaware.

American Revolution


The British invaded Delaware and partially occupied it from September 1777 until June 1778.
The battle was fought between British and Hessian troops under Generals Charles Cornwallis, William Howe
William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe
William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe, KB, PC was a British army officer who rose to become Commander-in-Chief of British forces during the American War of Independence...

, and Wilhelm von Knyphausen
Wilhelm von Knyphausen
Wilhelm Reichsfreiherr zu Innhausen und Knyphausen was a general from Hesse-Cassel. He fought in the American Revolutionary War, during which he led Hessian mercenaries on behalf of the British Empire.-Biography:His father was colonel in a German regiment under the Duke of Marlborough...

 and the colonial troops under General George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

.

The engagement began August 30, about two miles south of the bridge. The Americans harried the lead forces of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

. However, the roughly 700 colonials were greatly outmanned and outgunned. Washington’s troops were slowly driven back.

By September 3, the colonials had dropped back to Cooch’s Bridge. A handpicked regiment of 100 marksmen under General William Maxwell laid an ambush in the surrounding cover. Over the ensuing battle, several British and Hessian charges were repelled, but the Americans soon depleted their ammunition and called a retreat.

The property was taken by the British, and several buildings were burned. General Cornwallis used the Cooch house as his headquarters for the next week as the British regrouped. American casualties numbered around 30.

Shortly after General Howe moved his troops out. On September 11, he defeated the colonials in the Battle of Brandywine
Battle of Brandywine
The Battle of Brandywine, also known as the Battle of the Brandywine or the Battle of Brandywine Creek, was fought between the American army of Major General George Washington and the British-Hessian army of General Sir William Howe on September 11, 1777. The British defeated the Americans and...

 and subsequently captured the colonial capital of Philadelphia.

State of Delaware


Delaware was one of the thirteen colonies which revolted against British rule in the American Revolution
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...

. After the Revolution began in 1776, the three counties became "The Delaware State," and in 1776 that entity adopted its first constitution, declaring itself to be the "Delaware State." Its first governors went by the title of "President."

The oldest black church
Religious denomination
A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition, and identity.The term describes various Christian denominations...

 in the country was chartered in Delaware by former-slave Peter Spencer
Peter Spencer
Peter Spencer was born under slavery in Kent County, Maryland, in 1782 and grew up to be the founder of the first independent black Christian Church the United States, the A.U.M.P. Church in Wilmington,Delaware,which was a great success.The A.U.M.P. Church is still in existence....

 in 1813 as the "Union Church of Africans
Spencer Churches
The Spencer Churches are the two religious denominations that resulted from a schism in the "Union Church of Africans" , the first independent black denomination, founded by Peter Spencer in Delaware in 1813.The two denominations created by the schism are the African Union Methodist Protestant...

," which is now the A.U.M.P. Church
A.U.M.P. Church
The African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church and Connection, usually called "the A.U.M.P. Church," is a Methodist Christian denomination and the oldest independent black denomination in the U.S...

. The Big August Quarterly
Big August Quarterly
Big August Quarterly is an annual religious festival held in Wilmington, Delaware . Begun in 1814 by Peter Spencer in connection with the "quarterly" meeting of the African Union Church -- of the four meetings during the year, the one in August became the "annual conference" of the Church when...

 which began in 1814 is still celebrated and is the oldest such cultural festival in the country.

The government of Delaware never formally abolished slavery; however a large portion of the states slaveowners voluntarily freed their slaves.

During the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, Delaware was a slave
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 state that remained in the Union (Delaware voters voted not to secede on January 3, 1861). Delaware had been the first state to embrace the Union by ratifying the constitution, and would be the last to leave it, according to Delaware's governor at the time. Although most Delaware citizens who fought in the Civil War served in regiments on the Union side, some did, in fact, serve in Delaware companies on the Confederate side in the Maryland and Virginia Regiments.

Two months before the end of the Civil War, however, Delaware voted on February 18, 1865 to reject the 13th Amendment
Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On...

 to the United States Constitution and so voted unsuccessfully to continue slavery beyond the Civil War. Delaware symbolically ratified the amendment on February 12, 1901–40 years after Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

's Emancipation Proclamation
Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation is an executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War using his war powers. It proclaimed the freedom of 3.1 million of the nation's 4 million slaves, and immediately freed 50,000 of them, with nearly...

. Slavery ended in Delaware only when the Thirteenth Amendment
Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On...

 took effect in December 1865. Delaware also rejected the 14th amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

 during the Reconstruction Era.

Population

Census Year New Castle
County
population
percentage
of state
population
Kent
County
population
percentage
of state
population
Sussex
County
population
percentage
of state
population
Delaware total
1790 19,688 33% 18,920 32% 20,488 35% 59,096
1800 25,361 39% 19,554 30% 19,358 30% 64,273
1810 24,429 34% 20,495 28% 27,750 38% 72,674
1820 27,899 38% 20,793 29% 24,057 33% 72,749
1830 29,720 39% 19,913 26% 27,115 35% 76,748
1840 33,120 42% 19,872 25% 25,093 32% 78,085

Additional Sources

  • Borden, Morton; The Federalism of James A. Bayard (Columbia University Press, 1955)
  • Delaware Federal Writers' Project; Delaware: A Guide to the First State (famous WPA guidebook 1938)
  • Johnson, Amandus
    Amandus Johnson
    Amandus Johnson was an American historian, author and founding curator of the American Swedish Historical Museum...

     The Swedes in America 1638-1900: Vol. I, The Swedes on the Delaware 1638-1664. (1914)
  • 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, Volume II (1927)
  • Myers, Albert Cook ed., Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey, and Delaware, 1630-1707 (1912)
  • Ward, Christopher Dutch and Swedes on the Delaware, 1609- 1664 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1930)
  • Wiener, Roberta and James R. Arnold. Delaware: The History Of Delaware Colony, 1638-1776 (2004
  • Weslager, C. A. New Sweden on the Delaware, 1638-1655 (The Middle Atlantic Press, Wilmington. 1988)