Delaware, one of the original 13 American colonies, has a rich history dating back to its European exploration by the Dutch in the early 17th century. It was later settled by the Swedes and then the English, becoming a British colony in 1664. Delaware played a pivotal role in the American Revolution, being the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Throughout its history, the state has been known for its strategic location along the Atlantic coast and its significance in maritime trade. Its economic reliance on shipbuilding and agriculture transitioned to manufacturing and industry in the 19th century. Wilmington emerged as a key industrial center, particularly in the chemical industry. Despite its small size, Delaware's historical significance in shaping American governance and commerce is profound.
Brief timeline of the history of the state of Delaware:
Early 17th century: Dutch and Swedish explorers visit the area that would become Delaware.
1631: Dutch establish the settlement of Zwaanendael near present-day Lewes, but it is destroyed by Native Americans the following year.
1638: Swedish settlers establish a colony called New Sweden along the Delaware River, including Fort Christina (now Wilmington). It becomes the first permanent European settlement in Delaware.
1655: The Dutch capture New Sweden, and the area comes under Dutch control.
1664: The English take control of the Delaware region, including present-day Delaware, as part of their New Netherland acquisition.
1682: Delaware becomes part of the newly established Pennsylvania colony led by William Penn.
1704: Delaware separates from Pennsylvania and forms its own assembly, becoming a separate entity known as the "Lower Counties on the Delaware."
1776: Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the United States Constitution on December 7, 1787, and is subsequently known as "The First State."
19th century: Delaware's economy relies heavily on agriculture, particularly wheat and corn production. It also becomes an important center for shipbuilding and trade.
1861-1865: During the American Civil War, Delaware remains in the Union but is divided in its loyalty, with some residents supporting the Confederacy.
Early 20th century: Delaware's economy diversifies with the growth of chemical manufacturing and the establishment of DuPont, one of the world's largest chemical companies.
1951: The Delaware Memorial Bridge, connecting Delaware and New Jersey, is opened, promoting transportation and economic development.
Present: Delaware is known for its business-friendly environment, hosting many corporations' headquarters due to its advantageous corporate laws. It is also recognized for its tax-free shopping and its coastal resorts, such as Rehoboth Beach.