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Delaware is a state of the United States. It is known as the "First State" because it was the first of the 13 colonies to ratify the United States Constitution. Ratification occurred on December 7, 1787.
USS Delaware was named in honor of this state.
Europeans first settled in a Dutch trading post at "Zwaanendael" (or "Swaanendael," present-day Lewes (pronounced "Lewis") in 1631. The area became "New Sweden" with a colony established by Swedes (led by Peter Minuit) around Fort Christina (now Wilmington) in 1638.
The name "Delaware" comes from the title of Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, erstwhile governor of the colony of Virginia. The deed to the property that is now Delaware was granted to William Penn in 1682, by James, Duke of York (later, James II of England), and was part of the colony of Pennsylvania. In 1704 the "three lower counties" gained a separate legislature, and in 1710 a separate executive council.
Part of the Mason-Dixon line, surveyed by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon between 1763 and 1767 to establish the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland, now forms the boundary between Delaware and Maryland, and some 80 of their original limestone markers remain.
Delaware was one of the thirteen colonies which revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. After the Revolution began in 1776, the three counties became "Delaware State," and in 1792 that entity adopted its first constitution, declaring itself to be the "State of Delaware."
The oldest black church in the country was chartered in Delaware by former-slave Peter Spencer in 1813 as the "Union Church of Africans," which is now the A.U.M.P. Church. The Big August Quarterly Spencer began in 1814 is still celebrated, the oldest such cultural festival in the country.
During the American Civil War, Delaware was a slave state that remained in the Union (Delaware voters voted not to secede on January 3, 1861). Eight months after the end of the Civil War, however, Delaware voted on February 18, 1865 to reject the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution and so voted unsuccessfully to continue slavery beyond the Civil War. Delaware ratified the amendment on February 12, 1901--40 years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.
Law and Government
Delaware's fourth and current constitution was adopted in 1897 and provides for executive, judicial and legislative bodies. The legislative body consists of a House of Representatives with 41 members and a Senate with 21 members. The executive branch is headed by the Governor of Delaware and the judicial branch provides for a hierarchy of courts with the state Supreme Court being the highest.
The present governor of Delaware is Ruth Ann Minner (Democrat). The lieutenant governor is John C. Carney. Delaware's U.S. Senators are Joseph R. Biden (Democrat) and Thomas Carper (Democrat). Delaware's single US Representative is former Governor, Michael N. Castle (Republican).
Delaware only has 3 counties: Kent County New Castle County Sussex County.
Delaware is bounded to the north by Pennsylvania, to the east by the Delaware River and the Atlantic Ocean and to the west and south by Maryland. The largest city is Wilmington, and the capital is Dover. The U.S. Air Force base outside Dover is one of the largest in the U.S. In addition to its other responsibilities, Dover AFB serves as the entry point and morgue for American military persons (and some U.S. government civilians) who die overseas.
There are no broadcast-television stations in Delaware, but there are cable-television stations and radio stations, and some of the out-of-state broadcast-television stations maintain small facilities in Delaware that can "upload" signals to the stations' main facilities. The northern part of the state is served primarily by stations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the southern part by stations in Salisbury, Maryland.
The state product output for 1999 was $34,000,000,000 , placing it 42nd among the states. The Per Capita Personal Income of 2000 was $31,255.
Delaware's agricultural output consists of poultry, nursery stock, soybeans, dairy products and corn. Its industrial outputs include chemical products, processed foods, paper products, rubber and plastic products, scientific instruments, and publishing.
Delaware is well-known as the state of incorporation for many large U.S. businesses. Delaware bankruptcy courts are very experienced with handling large, complex cases in a fair and equitable manner. This makes Delaware attractive to businesses seeking stability and predictability.
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