The Delaware Colony, sometimes known as the Lower Counties on the Delaware, was one of the thirteen founding colonies of the United States.
The Dutch established the colony in 1638, but the English took possession in 1664. The capital of the colony was New Amstel (later renamed New Castle), and it comprised sections of modern-day Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
The colony was best renowned for its agriculture, particularly wheat, corn, and tobacco farming. The colony was also a significant shipbuilding and trading center.
The Delaware Colony was an important player in the American Revolutionary War and one of the first colonies to adopt the United States Constitution.
Delaware Colony Facts
1. The Swedish had the First Settlement in Delaware
The Swedish founded the Delaware colony, with the New Sweden Company constructing the first permanent settlement in Delaware, Fort Christina (now Wilmington, Delaware), in 1638.
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In 1655, the Dutch from the colony of New Netherland seized the area and assumed control of the colony, naming it New Netherland. During the Second Anglo-Dutch War in 1664, however, the British captured the province and renamed it Delaware.
It was nicknamed after the Delaware River, which played a key part in the colony’s economy and served as a major trade and commerce route.
2. The Delaware Colony was Ruled as Part of the Pennsylvania Colony
The Duke of York granted a royal charter to William Penn, a Quaker and founder of the Pennsylvania colony, in 1682, which included the land that is now Delaware.
The Delaware Colony was ruled as part of the Pennsylvania colony from 1682 until 1701. The three counties of New Castle, Sussex, and Kent remained, although they were now controlled by the Pennsylvania colonial administration.
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This arrangement enabled the two colonies to work together more closely, notably in sectors such as trade and commerce.
Many Delaware inhabitants, however, were dissatisfied with this arrangement, and in 1701, Delaware was granted its own government with its own assembly, and was no longer controlled as part of Pennsylvania.
3. The Delaware Colony was Split into Three Counties in 1682
In 1682, the Delaware Colony was split into three counties: New Castle, Sussex, and Kent.
New Castle County was located in the colony’s northernmost region and included the capital, New Amstel (later renamed New Castle).
Sussex County was located in the colony’s southernmost region and was mostly known for agriculture.
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Kent County was located in the colony’s eastern region and was mostly agricultural, with some shipbuilding and trade.
Each county had its own court and government, but they were still subject to the English colony’s overall control.
4. Quakers Were the Most common Group of People
The majority of the English settlers who settled Delaware were Quakers, but there were also Anglicans, Lutherans, and Catholics. The Society of Friends, generally known as Quakers, were a notable organization among the English settlers in Delaware.
They were drawn to the colony because of its religious tolerance, property ownership prospects, and economic prosperity. They founded various villages throughout the colony, including Wilmington.
The Quakers were also active in promoting the ideas of peace, fairness, and equality, and they played a key role in the colony’s politics and government.
Other religious groups, such as Anglicans, Lutherans, and Catholics, also settled in Delaware. They were drawn to the colony for similar reasons, and they played an important role in its development and history.
5. There Were Some Disputes With Neighboring Maryland and Pennsylvania
The Delaware colony had some border issues with its neighboring colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania. These disagreements were mostly about colonial boundaries and the ownership of land and resources.
These issues, however, were often settled peacefully and without serious conflict. The border conflicts with Maryland were mostly about who owned the Delmarva Peninsula, which is today shared by Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
And in Pennsylvania, the main disagreement was over possession of property in the colony’s western section, which is now part of modern-day Pennsylvania.
Negotiations and survey missions eventually addressed the problems, and the colonies were able to dwell peacefully without serious conflicts.
6. The First to Ratify the United States Constitution
The Delaware Colony was the first of the thirteen original colonies to ratify the United States Constitution. Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution on December 7, 1787, making it the first state of the United States.
Delaware’s state lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of ratification, making Delaware the “First State” to enter the union. This event was critical in the development of the United States as a nation, and it established a pattern for the other colonies to follow.
The process of ratifying the Constitution was a vital component of the foundation of the United States, and Delaware’s early ratification played a critical role in the country’s founding as we know it today.
7. Delaware’s Geography is Mainly Flat and Low-lying
The topography of the Delaware Colony includes Atlantic coastal plains and flat lowland. Delaware’s geography is mainly flat and low-lying, with Ebright Azimuth at 448 feet (137 m) above sea level being the highest point.
Delaware’s coastal plain region is distinguished by sandy soil and is home to several wetlands and marshes. Because of the flat lowland landscape, the colony had rich soil for agriculture, which was a significant economic activity in the colony.
The colony had a temperate climate with moderate temperatures and rainfall, making it ideal for cultivating crops including wheat, corn, and tobacco.
Furthermore, because the colony had access to both the Delaware River and the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware’s location on the Atlantic coast made it an important center for shipbuilding and trade.
8. There Were Only Two Minor Battles During the American Revolutionary War
Delaware had a minor involvement in the military aspects of the American Revolutionary War. During the conflict, Delaware saw only two battles: the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge and the Battle of Iron Hill.
Both of these conflicts were small engagements that had little impact on the outcome of the war. Delaware’s effect during the war was due to the activities of its legislatures, not fighting.
The Delaware legislature was among the first to declare independence from Great Britain, and it provided troops and supplies to the Continental Army. Delaware was also one of the first colonies to ratify the United States Constitution, as well as the first state to do so.
Delaware’s early ratification of the Constitution and support for the revolutionary cause helped to establish it as one of the original 13 states of the United States.
9. Part of the Middle Colonies
The Delaware Colony, along with the colonies of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, was categorized as a Middle Colony.
The Middle Colonies were noted for their geographic, economic, and cultural variety.
These colonies were noted for producing products such as wheat, corn, and tobacco because to their fertile soil and moderate climate, which made them well-suited for agriculture.
They were also recognized for their diverse population, which included people from England, the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden, as well as enslaved Africans and Native Americans.
10. Textiles Made a Significant Contribution to the Economy
Flax and hemp plantations were built in the Middle Colonies, including Delaware, helping to advance the textile industry.
The Middle Colonies, which included Delaware, had excellent soil and a temperate temperature, making them ideal for growing flax and hemp. These crops were grown to create fibers for the production of cloth, rope, and other textiles.
These textiles were popular in both the colonies and Europe. The flax and hemp plantations aided in the establishment of the Middle Colonies’ textile industry, which was a significant economic activity for the region.