June 11, 2012

Delaware – “The First State”



 Just the Facts…

 bird – blue hen chicken
flower – peach blossom
tree – American holly
capital – Dover
union – 1st state in 1787
population – 900,000




The Basics 

Delaware is a very small state and very densely populated.  At its narrowest spot, Delaware is only 9 miles wide – some of you could probably bike all the way across that part of the state!  And, Delaware has only 3 counties – the fewest of any state in the Union.


Delaware is part of a peninsula that extends out into the Atlantic Ocean.  The other part of the peninsula is Maryland (just to the west).  To the east is the Delaware Bay, which is where the Delaware River flows into the Atlantic Ocean.  Most of Delaware is on the Atlantic Coastal Plain, meaning that it is fairly flat and close to sea level.  Because of its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, the weather in Delaware is more mild than some other areas further inland.


The state was named after the Delaware River and Delaware Bay.  And, those bodies of water were given the name “Delaware” in honor of an English nobleman called Lord De La Warr.  For many years the area was referred to as the “lower counties on the Delaware” and was claimed by William Penn.


In fact, William Penn (who was granted the land of Pennsylvania by the King of England) and Lord Baltimore (who was granted the land of Maryland by the King of England) had a big disagreement about who actually owned the land that is now Delaware.  During the American Revolution, the three counties that make up Delaware settled the disagreement once and for all – they established their own government and declared independence from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and England!


12 Mile Circle

Delaware’s state border is unique because part of it is a semi-circle.  Delaware’s northern border with Pennsylvania was determined by mapping a 12-mile arc from the courthouse in the city of Newcastle.  Using the courthouse as the center, 12 miles were measured all around it and part of that circle became Delaware’s border.  It was just like tying a string to a pencil, holding the string in one place and drawing a circle around it with the pencil – try it!


Its Claim to Fame

Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, making it officially the first state of the Union!  Its government unanimously approved our Constitution on December 7, 1787.  According to the Governor’s Office, the nickname “The First State” was adopted by its General Assembly in 2002 at the request of a first grade class!


Delaware has been a favorite state for businesses since the early 1900s.  In fact, about 50% of all publicly held companies are incorporated in Delaware (a publicly held company is one that is traded on a stock exchange, so that anyone can buy a “share,” or a part, of that company.)  What does this mean? Well, it means that Delaware gets a lot of tax dollars!  It also means that Delaware law governs how those companies operate – what they can and cannot do.  And, the Delaware government takes its role as a leader in corporate law seriously.  Some people think that its corporate laws are the most current, flexible and pro-business laws in the country.   Do either of your parents (or any other family members, for that matter) work for a publicly held company?  If so, there is a 50% chance that it is a Delaware corporation.  You can find out by doing a corporation search on:  https://delecorp.delaware.gov/tin/GINameSearch.jsp


What Makes it Tick

Delaware is home to the DuPont Company, which has invented many things we use in our everyday life.  The DuPont family started its business in Delaware in 1802 as a gunpowder mill.  It quickly became a chemical power house.  There are probably some things in your house right now that were invented by DuPont – like Teflon, cellophane, and nylon.  Teflon is the non-stick coating on frying pans – do you have a non-stick pan in your kitchen?  So many foods are easier to cook in a non-stick pan, like pancakes!   After DuPont invented the synthetic fiber, nylon, it became widely used for toothbrush bristles.  It’s a good thing, too.  Before that, toothbrushes were made from the hair of wild boars!


There are a lot of chicken farms in Delaware – it has a strong poultry industry that provides broiler chickens to many states on the East Coast.  There is also a chicken breed named the “Delaware” – it was originally raised in Delaware and was the most popular breed of poultry for a number of years.  Now, it is an endangered species.  One look at the state seal of Delaware will show you that farming has been important to Delaware since Colonial times.  Delaware farms grow corn, soybeans, wheat, peaches and apples, among many other things.


If You Visited

If you visited Delaware, you might look for horseshoe crabs on one of Delaware’s beautiful beaches.  More horseshoe crabs live in Delaware Bay than anywhere else in America.  The horseshoe crab is one of the oldest animals in the world – some estimate it is about 300 million years old (and it technically is not a crab – it is closer to a scorpion or spider).  The horseshoe crab is important to the medical community because it contains natural compounds that can be used to test the purity of vaccinations (vaccinations are those shots you got when you were little to keep you healthy).


And, a visit to Delaware is not complete without a big meal of seafood!  The choices are endless: crab puffs, crab cakes, oysters, a traditional fish stew called Muddle, stuffed shrimp, or shrimp steamed over a pan of spiced vinegar.


Or you might go to the Big August Quarterly, the oldest religious and cultural festival in the nation.  It was started by the first black church in America in 1814 and was a time for all blacks (free and slaves) to come together to celebrate their faith with music and food.  Nearly 200 years later, it is still an annual festival and celebrates the freedoms that we have in America.


Want to Know More? 

Do you live in Delaware? Have you visited Delaware? We want to hear from you!!  Please post a comment.


  • Where is your favorite place in your state?
  • What is your favorite beach?
  • What is your favorite chicken dish?
  • What is your favorite seafood dish?
  • What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?


Do you have a favorite picture of Delaware? Share it with all of us. Hop on Facebook and post your picture!


Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about Delaware.  Visit these websites to learn more great things about Delaware: