Delaware is a state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The state takes its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, a British nobleman and Virginia's first colonial governor, after whom (what is now called) Cape Henlopen was originally named.
Delaware is located in the eastern section of the Delmarva Peninsula, between Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay, and is the second smallest state (after Rhode Island). 2007 estimates place the population of Delaware ranking 45th in the nation, but 6th in population density, with more than 60% of the population in New Castle County. Delaware is divided into three counties: New Castle, Kent, and Sussex. While the southern two counties have been historically predominantly agricultural, the northernmost county has helped lead the state to rank 2nd in civilian scientists and engineers as a percentage of the workforce and number of patents issued to companies or individuals per 1,000 workers. The history state's economic and industrial development is closely tied to the impact of the Du Pont family, founder of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, one of the world’s largest chemical companies.
Before its coastline was first explored by Europeans in the 16th century, Delaware was inhabited by several groups of Native Americans, including the Lenape toward the north and Nanticoke toward the south. It was initially colonized by Dutch traders at Zwaanendael, located near the present town of Lewes, in 1631. Delaware was one of the 13 original states participating in the American Revolution and on December 7, 1787, became the first to ratify the Constitution of the United States.
Delaware is 96 miles long and ranges from 9 to 35 miles across, totaling 1,954 square miles and making it the second-smallest state in the United States after Rhode Island. Delaware is bounded to the north by Pennsylvania; to the east by the Delaware River, Delaware Bay, New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean; and to the west and south by Maryland. Small portions of Delaware are also situated on the far, or eastern, side of the Delaware River estuary. These parcels share land boundaries with New Jersey. The state of Delaware, together with the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland and two counties of Virginia, form the Delmarva Peninsula, which stretches south down the Mid-Atlantic Coast.
The definition of the northern boundary of the state is highly unusual. Most of the boundary between Delaware and Pennsylvania is defined by an arc extending 12 miles (19 km) from the cupola of the courthouse in New Castle. It is referred to as the Twelve-Mile Circle. This is the only true-arc political boundary in the United States. This border extends all the way east to the low-tide mark on the New Jersey shore, then continues south along the shoreline until it again reaches the twelve-mile arc in the south; then the boundary continues in a more conventional way in the middle of the main channel (thalweg) of the Delaware River Estuary. To the west, a portion of the arc extends past the easternmost edge of Maryland. The remaining western border runs slightly east of due south from its intersection with the arc. The Wedge of land between the northwest part of the arc and the Maryland border was claimed by both Delaware and Pennsylvania until 1921, when Delaware's claim was confirmed.
Only nine years later, in 1664, the Dutch were themselves forcibly removed by a British expedition under the direction of James, the Duke of York. Fighting off a prior claim by Cæcilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, Proprietor of Maryland, the Duke passed his somewhat dubious ownership on to William Penn in 1682. Penn strongly desired access to the sea for his Pennsylvania province and leased what then came to be known as the "Lower Counties on the Delaware" from the Duke.
Penn established representative government and briefly combined his two possessions under one General Assembly in 1682. However, by 1704 the Province of Pennsylvania had grown so large that their representatives wanted to make decisions without the assent of the Lower Counties and the two groups of representatives began meeting on their own, one at Philadelphia, and the other at New Castle. Penn and his heirs remained proprietors of both and always appointed the same person Governor for their Province of Pennsylvania and their territory of the Lower Counties. The fact that Delaware and Pennsylvania shared the same governor was not unique. During much of the colonial period, New York and New Jersey shared a governor, as did Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Dependent in early years on indentured labor, Delaware imported more slaves as the number of English immigrants decreased with better economic conditions in England. The colony became a slave society and cultivated tobacco as a cash crop. Before the Revolution, it had begun to shift to mixed agriculture.
So it was that New Castle lawyer Thomas McKean denounced the Stamp Act in the strongest terms, and Kent County native John Dickinson became the "Penman of the Revolution." Anticipating the Declaration of Independence, Patriot leaders Thomas McKean and Caesar Rodney convinced the Colonial Assembly to declare itself separated from British and Pennsylvania rule on June 15, 1776. The person best representing Delaware's majority, George Read, could not bring himself to vote for a Declaration of Independence. Only the dramatic overnight ride of Caesar Rodney gave the delegation the votes needed to cast Delaware's vote for independence. Once the Declaration was adopted, however, Read signed the document.
Initially led by John Haslet, Delaware provided one of the premier regiments in the Continental Army, known as the "Delaware Blues" and nicknamed the "Blue Hen Chickens." In August 1777, General Sir William Howe led a British army through Delaware on his way to a victory at the Battle of Brandywine and capture of the city of Philadelphia. The only real engagement on Delaware soil was the Battle of Cooch's Bridge, fought on September 3, 1777, at Cooch's Bridge in New Castle County. It is believed to be the first time that the Stars and Stripes was flown in battle.
Following the Battle of Brandywine, Wilmington was occupied by the British, and State President John McKinly was taken prisoner. The British remained in control of the Delaware River for much of the rest of the war, disrupting commerce and providing encouragement to an active Loyalist portion of the population, particularly in Sussex County. Because the British promised slaves of rebels freedom for fighting with them, escaped slaves flocked north to join their lines. Only the repeated military actions of State President Caesar Rodney were able to harass the British.
Following the American Revolution, statesmen from Delaware were among the leading proponents of a strong central United States with equal representation for each state. Once the Connecticut Compromise was reached—creating a U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives—the leaders in Delaware were able to easily secure ratification of the U.S. Constitution on December 7, 1787, making Delaware the first state to do so.
At the end of the colonial period, the number of enslaved people in Delaware began to decline. Shifts in the agriculture economy from tobacco to mixed farming created less need for slaves' labor. Local Methodists and Quakers encouraged slaveholders to free their slaves following the American Revolution, and many did so in a surge of individual manumissions for idealistic reasons. By 1810 three-quarters of all blacks in Delaware were free. When John Dickinson freed his slaves in 1777, he was Delaware's largest slave owner with 37 slaves. By 1860 the largest slaveholder owned only 16 slaves.
Although attempts to abolish slavery failed by narrow margins in the legislature, in practical terms, the state had mostly ended the practice. By the 1860 census on the verge of the Civil War, 91.7 percent of the black population, or nearly 20,000 people, was free.
The first independent black denomination was chartered by freed slave Peter Spencer in 1813 as the "Union Church of Africans." This followed the 1793 establishment of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, which had ties to the Methodist Episcopal Church until 1816. Spencer built a church in Wilmington for the new denomination. This was renamed the African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church and Connection, more commonly known as the A.U.M.P. Church. Begun by Spencer in 1814, the annual gathering of the Big August Quarterly still draws people together in a religious and cultural festival, the oldest such cultural festival in the nation.
At the onset of the American Civil War, Delaware was only nominally a slave state, and it remained in the Union. Delaware voted against secession on January 3, 1861. As the governor said, Delaware had been the first state to embrace the Union by ratifying the Constitution and would be the last to leave it. While most Delaware citizens who fought in the war served in the regiments of the state, some served in companies on the Confederate side in Maryland and Virginia Regiments. Delaware is notable for being the only slave state from which no Confederate regiments or militia groups were assembled.
The five largest ancestries in Delaware are: African American (19.2%), Irish (16.6%), German (14.3%), English (12.1%), Italian (9.3%). Delaware has the highest proportion of African-American residents of any state north of Maryland, and had the largest percentage of free blacks (17% of the state) prior to the Civil War.
Delaware is the sixth most densely populated state, with a population density of 442.6 people per square mile, 356.4 per square mile more than the national average, and ranking 45th in population. Only the states of Delaware, West Virginia, Vermont, Maine, and Wyoming do not have a single city with a population over 100,000 as of the 2007 census. The center of population of Delaware is located in New Castle County, in the town of Townsend.
Legislation has been proposed by both the House and the Senate in Delaware to designate English as the official language.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware oversee the parishes within their denominations. The A.U.M.P. Church, the oldest African-American denomination in the nation, was founded in Wilmington. It still has a substantial presence in the state. Reflecting new immigrant populations, an Islamic mosque has been built in the Ogletown area, and a Hindu temple in Hockessin.
Delaware's population includes approximately 20,000 Jewish Americans, who are served by the Jewish Community Center in Brandywine (near Wilmington) and by a number of educational, social and cultural agencies supported by the Jewish Federation of Delaware. Synagogues include Congregation Beth Emeth (Reform) in Wilmington, Congregation Beth El (Reconstructionist) in Newark, Congregation Beth Shalom (Conservative) in Wilmington, Congregation Beth Sholom (Conservative) in Dover, and Adas Kodesh Shel Emeth (Traditional) in Wilmington. There is also a Lubavitcher community center and synagogue in Brandywine Hundred.
The gross state product of Delaware in 2003 was $49 billion. The per capita personal income was $34,199, ranking 9th in the nation. In 2005, the average weekly wage was $937, ranking 7th in the nation.
Delaware's agricultural output consists of poultry, nursery stock, soybeans, dairy products and corn. Its industrial outputs include chemical products, automobiles, processed foods, paper products, and rubber and plastic products. Delaware's economy generally outperforms the national economy of the United States.
The state's largest employers are:
The Dover Air Force Base, located next to the state capital of Dover, is one of the largest Air Force bases in the country and is a major employer in Delaware. In addition to its other responsibilities in the USAF Air Mobility Command, this air base serves as the entry point and mortuary for American military personnel, and some U.S. government civilians, who die overseas.
Delaware has six different income tax brackets, ranging from 2.2% to 5.95%. The state does not assess sales tax on consumers. The state does, however, impose a tax on the gross receipts of most businesses. Business and occupational license tax rates range from 0.096% to 1.92%, depending on the category of business activity.
Delaware does not assess a state-level tax on real or personal property. Real estate is subject to county property taxes, school district property taxes, vocational school district taxes, and, if located within an incorporated area, municipal property taxes.
Over 50% of US publicly-traded corporations and 60% of the Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware; the state's attractiveness as a corporate haven is largely due to its business-friendly corporation law. Franchise taxes on Delaware corporations supply about one-fifth of its state revenue.
Title 4, chapter 7 of the Delaware Code stipulates that alcoholic liquor only be sold in specifically licensed establishments, and only between 9:00 AM and 1:00 AM.
The transportation system in Delaware is under the governance and supervision of the Delaware Department of Transportation, also known as "DelDOT". DelDOT manages programs such as a Delaware Adopt-a-Highway program, major road route snow removal, traffic control infrastructure (signs and signals), toll road management, Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles, the Delaware Transit Corporation (branded as "DART First State", the state government public transportation organization), among others. Almost ninety percent of the state's public roadway miles are under the direct maintenance of DelDOT which far exceeds the United States national average of twenty percent for state department of transportation maintenance responsibility; the remaining public road miles are under the supervision of individual municipalities.
A bicycle route, Delaware Bicycle Route 1, spans the north-south length of the state from the Maryland border in Fenwick Island to the Pennsylvania border north of Montchanin. It is the first of several signed bike routes planned in Delaware.
Delaware has around 1,450 bridges, ninety-five percent of which are under the supervision of DelDOT. About thirty percent of all Delaware bridges were built prior to 1950 and about sixty percent of the number are included in the National Bridge Inventory. Some bridges not under DelDOT supervision includes the four bridges on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, which are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Delaware Memorial Bridge, which is under the bi-state Delaware River and Bay Authority.
The public transportation system, DART First State, was named "Most Outstanding Public Transportation System" in 2003 by the American Public Transportation Association. Coverage of the system is broad within northern New Castle County with close association to major highways in Kent and Sussex Counties. The system includes bus, subsidized passenger rail operated by Philadelphia transit agency SEPTA, and subsidized taxi and paratransit modes, the latter consisting of a state-wide door-to-door bus service for the elderly and disabled.
|2004||45.75% 171,660||53.35% 200,152|
|2000||41.90% 137,288||54.96% 180,068|
|1996||36.58% 99,062||51.82% 140,955|
|1992||35.33% 102,313||43.52% 126,054|
|1988||55.88% 139,639||43.48% 108,647|
|1984||59.78% 152,190||39.93% 101,656|
|1980||47.21% 111,252||44.87% 105,754|
|1976||46.57% 109,831||51.98% 122,596|
|1972||59.60% 140,357||39.18% 92,283|
|1968||45.12% 96,714||41.61% 89,194|
|1964||38.78% 78,078||60.95% 122,704|
|1960||49.00% 96,373||50.63% 99,590|
Delaware's fourth and current constitution, adopted in 1897, provides for executive, judicial and legislative branches.
Minor non-constitutional courts include the Justice of the Peace Courts and Aldermen's Courts.
Significantly, Delaware has one of the few remaining Courts of Chancery in the nation, which has jurisdiction over equity cases, the vast majority of which are corporate disputes, many relating to mergers and acquisitions. The Court of Chancery and the Supreme Court have developed a worldwide reputation for rendering concise opinions concerning corporate law which generally (but not always) grant broad discretion to corporate boards of directors and officers. In addition, the Delaware General Corporation Law, which forms the basis of the Courts' opinions, is widely regarded as giving great flexibility to corporations to manage their affairs. For these reasons, Delaware is considered to have the most business-friendly legal system in the United States; therefore a great number of companies are incorporated in Delaware, including 60% of the companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
The Democratic Party holds a plurality of registrations in Delaware. Until the 2000 Presidential election, the state tended to be a Presidential bellwether, sending its three electoral votes to the winning candidate for over 50 years in a row. Bucking that trend, however, in 2000 and again in 2004 Delaware voted for the Democratic candidate. In the 2000 election Delaware voted with the winner of the popular vote, Al Gore, who subsequently lost the Electoral Vote to George W. Bush (see United States Presidential Election, 2000 for more information.) John Kerry won Delaware by eight percentage points with 53.5% of the vote in 2004.
Historically, the Republican Party had an immense influence on Delaware politics, due in large part to the wealthy du Pont family. Ralph Nader assembled a working group to investigate ties between Delaware's politicians and industrialists, resulting in a book published in 1968 entitled The Company State. As DuPont's political influence has declined, so has that of the Delaware Republican Party. The Democrats have won the past four gubernatorial elections and currently hold seven of the nine statewide elected offices (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner, Attorney General, and two U.S. Senators), while the Republicans hold the remaining two (the state's at-large House seat and the office of Auditor). However, this belies the fact that the Democratic Party gains most of its votes from heavily-developed New Castle County, whereas the lesser-populated Kent and Sussex Counties vote Republican.
Unlike many states, Delaware's educational system is centralized in a state Superintendent of Education, with local school boards retaining control over taxation and some curriculum decisions.
A "three-tiered diploma" system fostered by Governor Ruth Ann Minner, which awarded "basic," "standard," and "distinguished" high-school diplomas based on a student's performance in the Delaware Student Testing Program, was discontinued by the General Assembly after many Delawareans questioned its fairness.
Rehoboth Beach, together with the towns of Lewes, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, and Fenwick Island, comprises Delaware's beach resorts. Rehoboth Beach often bills itself as "The Nation's Summer Capital" due to the fact that it is a frequent summer vacation destination for Washington, D.C., residents as well as visitors from Maryland, Virginia, and in lesser numbers, Pennsylvania. Vacationers are drawn for many reasons, including the town's charm, artistic appeal, and nightlife.
Delaware is home to several festivals, fairs, and events. Some of the more notable festivals are the Riverfest held in Seaford, the World Championship Punkin Chunkin held at various locations throughout the county since 1986, the Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival, the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral to mark the end of summer, the Apple Scrapple Festival held in Bridgeville, the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, the Sea Witch Halloween Festival and Parade in Rehoboth Beach, the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival the Nanticoke Indian Pow Wow in Oak Orchard, and the Return Day Parade held after every election in Georgetown.
The state was playfully mocked for its lack of renown as a vacation destination in the movie Wayne's World and the TV show The Simpsons.
|Wilmington Blue Rocks||Baseball||Minor League Baseball|
|Delaware Griffins||Football||Women's Professional Football League|
|Delaware Smash||Tennis||World Team Tennis|
|Central Delaware SA Future||Soccer||Women's Premier Soccer League|
|Delaware Dynasty||Soccer||USL Premier Development League|
|Wilmington City Ruff Rollers||Roller Derby||Women's Flat Track Derby Association|
|Delaware Destroyers||Basketball||Eastern Basketball Alliance|
In place of in-state professional sports teams, many Delawareans follow either Philadelphia or Baltimore teams, depending on their location within the state, with Philadelphia teams receiving the largest fan following, though before the Baltimore Ravens entered the NFL, the Washington Redskins had a significant fan base in Sussex County and the Baltimore Colts had a significant fan base in northern counties. In addition, the University of Delaware's football team has a loyal following throughout the state, with Delaware State University's team enjoying popularity on a much lesser scale.
Delaware is home to Dover International Speedway and Dover Downs. DIS, also known as the Monster Mile, hosts two NASCAR races each year. Dover Downs is a popular harness racing facility. In what may be the only co-located horse and car-racing facility in the nation, the Dover Downs track is located inside the DIS track.
Delaware is home to the Diamond State Games, an amateur Olympic-style sports festival. The event is open to athletes of all ages and is also open to residents beyond the borders of Delaware. The Diamond State Games were created in 2001 and participation levels average roughly 2500 per year in 12 contested sports.