The State of Delaware is named after the Delaware Bay and River. These bodies of waters were named for Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, who lived from 1577 to 1618 and was the second Royal Governor of Virginia.
Henry Hudson who at the time was employed by the Dutch and was continuing his attempt to find a passage to the Pacific first explored the Delaware Bay in 1809. He sailed as many of nine miles finding a strong current that he thought was a rapid river, the Delaware. One that was too shallow for him to explore further.
At one time Delaware was part of the claim of the Maryland colony of Cæcilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore. However, the Dutch’s Swaanendael or Zwaanendael Colony of thirty-two first settled in Southern Delaware near Lewes in 1631. It was short lived since a local tribe of Lenni Lenape killed all members of the colony sometime in 1632.
This was not the only non-English colony in Delaware. A Swedish colony, New Sweden, was established near present day Wilmington. Even though it had been in existence since 1638 James, the Duke of York, had the colony removed.
After winning the claim over the protest of Calvert, James sold his claim to William Penn in 1682 making the area part of Pennsylvania.
The borders of Delaware have had a long and somewhat peculiar history. Charles Calvert had agreed that the peninsula should be divided through its east-west center to a southern point that would begin at Cape Henlopen and run east. But there were two points that had similar names. One was the Swedish named Cape Hinlopen at Fenwick Island. The other is Cape Henlopen, which is 24 miles to the North at Lewes, Delaware.
It was this northern Cape that Calvert thought he had agreed upon, but the map that he commissioned and presented to the English court showed the southern Cape. This is the one that has been used since then. Calvert and Maryland has questioned this ruling repeatedly over the years.
Had the Lewes Cape Henlopen been used, Delaware would be about one thousand square miles smaller losing more than a third of its current area.
Delaware has a strange northern border with Pennsylvania. This border is an arc and dates from a deed to William Penn from the Duke of York on August 24, 1682, which granted Penn: “all that the Towne of Newcastle otherwise called Delaware and All that Tract of Land lying within the Compass or Circle of Twelve Miles about the same scituate lying and being upon the River Delaware in America And all Islands in the same River Delaware and the said River and Soyle thereof lying North of the Southermost part of the said Circle of Twelve Miles about the said Towne.”
In 1750 the center if the circle which establishes the Arc was placed at the cupola of the courthouse in New Castle.
Two oddities came about as a result of this establishment of border. One is that the border with New Jersey is at the low-tide mark of the Delaware River and not in the center of the river as typical.
Another is that the Arc created a wedge of along the border between Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The top of the Wedge is about ¾ of a mile and 3 miles long. It wasn’t until 1921 that a dispute between Delaware and Pennsylvania was finally settled and the Wedge was granted to Delaware.
The surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon was given the task to chart the borders of the Province of Pennsylvania, the Province of Maryland, Delaware Colony and parts of Colony and Old Dominion of Virginia. This was as a resolution of the border dispute between the British colonies and took from 1763 and 1767 to be completed.
By 1705, the land now known as Delaware had its own separate assembly from Pennsylvania, even though they had a common Royal Governor. It wasn’t until 1776 that the colony took the name Delaware when it declared its Independence from the Royal Crown shortly before the Colonies declared Independence on July 2nd.
With the population center of the state being near the town of Townsend, which is only around ten miles south of the C&D Canal, only a little over half of the 843.5 thousand people of Delaware live on the peninsula south of the C&D canal.
Delaware, south of the canal, has a more rural way of life with an agricultural output of poultry, nursery stock, soybeans, dairy products and corn. Southern Delaware is a place that deer run wild, the beaches are hot and the farmers take life slow and easy with no worries. Many residents of the area call it Slower Lower.
North of the canal is less Rural and has more of the feel of a Metropolitan area with the larger city of Wilmington and a smaller Newark being a focal point of commerce and employment.
Although Delaware doesn’t have any national parks, national seashores, national historic sites, national battlefields or national monuments it is loaded with places of interest.
There are museums, wildlife refuges, parks, historic houses, lighthouses and a national history.
Delaware was the first state to adopt the Constitution of the United States earning it the nickname ‘The First State’.
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