Delaware name is derived from the name of Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, Virginia’s first colonial governor. Its nickname is ” First State ” (this is because on Dec. 7, 1787, Delaware was the first of the 12 US states to ratify the new US Constitution). The State Motto is ” Liberty and Independence ”
Delaware is located along the Atlantic on the peninsula between Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay. It was one of the earliest United States (the original 13). When the American Revolution took place, from 1775 to 1783, Delaware played a huge part in it. Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, on December 7, 1787.
When Sir Samuel Argall saw what is now Cape Henlopen in Delaware Bay back in 1610, he called it Cape De La Warr. The name was meant as a tribute to the Virginia governor because he was sailing from Virginia at the time. That’s how the Delaware Bay, Delaware River and later the entire state of Delaware got their names.
Delaware has several nicknames. It is known as the First State because it ratified the Constitution first. It is also called the Diamond State because, for its small size, it has a lot of value. Another name for it is the Blue Hen State. That nickname comes from the Delaware First Regiment during the American Revolution, who had a blue hen as their mascot.
Delaware is a small state (larger than Rhode Island only), but it does have a big history. It all began in 1609, when Delaware Bay was discovered by Henry Hudson. However, nobody really settled in the area until the Dutch came in 1631. The Native Americans soon drove them away. Then the Swedes called Delaware New Sweden and controlled it from 1638 until 1655. The Dutch got it back again for 9 years right after that and, at that same time, some Mennonites and some Finns came to the area. The English took over what was then called New Netherland in 1664 and from then until 1682 things stayed that way, with the Duke of York controlling it, except for a very short time from 1673 to 1674 when the Dutch got it back.
In 1682, certain deeds declared that Delaware was actually part of Pennsylvania and what is now Delaware were dubbed the “Three Lower Counties” of that state. Soon, the counties were divided into “hundreds” and Delaware is the only state that still uses those divisions in its records, deeds and wills. William Penn started that practice, which he brought over from England.
In 1704, Delaware established its own assembly, but it didn’t become separate from Pennsylvania until after the Revolutionary War. Some settlers came directly from England to Delaware, but many English settlers actually came from Maryland and Pennsylvania, including English Quakers. Maryland and Delaware had disputes about the control of parts of Sussex County and Kent. So, prior to 1775, not many detailed records remain for those areas.
During the Revolutionary War, the British passed through Delaware while headed to Philadelphia, but the state of Delaware wasn’t home to any major Revolutionary War battles. Estimates indicate that about 50% of the people in Delaware were Loyalists, but the state didn’t experience the same sort of mass exodus that New Jersey or New York did at that time. When the war ended, many soldiers from Delaware took land grants in Georgia.
Some African Americans came to Delaware as slaves to the Dutch, but most came from planters and farmers in Maryland. Thanks to manumission, there were far fewer African American slaves in Delaware after the Civil War. Once the American Revolution ended, many French people, including the du Pont family, came to Delaware, either directly from France or from the West Indies.
From the middle to the end of the nineteenth century, Delaware was settled by a lot of Italians, eastern Europeans, Scandinavians, Poles, Jews, Germans and Irish Catholics came to Delaware, many settling in and around Wilmington.
From the time that the “First State” ratified the constitution, on December 7, 1787, it has developed in a peaceful, stable way. That is, aside from during the Civil War, of course. Delaware had many economic allies in the North, thanks to the railroads and the river trade. However, many of its relatives were Southern Sympathizers after the Civil War ended.
Delaware and Pennsylvania are often associated with each other because they both use the Delaware River for transportation and commercial uses. The norther part of Delaware, especially the Wilmington area, has become highly industrial because of the Delaware River and other trading and commerce. It is a densely populated sate and most of that population is in the northern part of the state. The southern part of the state is mainly devoted to farming.
- Delaware : a guide to the first state
- Annals of Pennsylvania
- A history of the original settlements on the Delaware
- Delaware Governor’s Register 1674-1851, Volume I
- Delaware Trails: Some Tribal Records, 1842-1907
- Delaware History Books at Amazon.com (amazon.com)