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Delaware History Timeline

  • (1609) Englishman, Henry Hudson, discovered Delaware Bay, River
  • (1610) English sea captain, Samuel Argall, named bay and river after Lord De La Warr, Virginia governor
  • (1613) Explorer, Cornelius Jacobsen May, arrived in area, traded with Indians
  • (1631) Dutch colonists established Zwaanendael (present day Lewes)
  • (1632) Zwaanendael destroyed by Indians; all colonists killed
  • (1638) Dutch settlers, led by Peter Minuet, established Fort Christina, (now Wilmington)
  • (1639) First African slave brought to Delaware
  • (1644) England seized area, Delaware became part of New York colony
  • (1651) Peter Stuyvesant, New York Governor, established Fort Casimir
  • (1654) Fort Casimir captured by Swedish colonists, renamed Fort Trinity
  • (1655) Dutch captured all New Sweden, made part of New Netherland
  • (1664) Sir Robert Carr of England, drove Dutch out of Delaware, claimed land for James, Duke of York; Delaware became English colony
  • (1673) Dutch regained control
  • (1674) Dutch returned land to England
  • (1682) James, Duke of York, gave control of Delaware Colony to William Penn; Penn made it part of the colony of Pennsylvania, and established a representative form of government
  • (1683) Penn laid out city plan of Dover
  • (1698 - 1700) Pirates, including Captain Kidd, sailed along Delaware
  • (1701) Delaware region became known as Three Lower Counties, a separate legislature from Pennsylvania
  • (1704) First assembly of Three Lower Counties Upon Delaware met in New Castle
  • (1731) Willington founded by Thomas Willing
  • (1739) Willington renamed Wilmington
  • (1754 - 1763) French and Indian War took place
  • (1763) French and Indian War ended; Great Britain gained control of all lands held by France; England increased taxes on colonies to pay for war
  • (1764) Charles Mason, Jeremiah Dixon surveyed western boundary of Delaware
  • (1765) Stamp Act Congress held in protest of English taxation, Caesar Rodney and Thomas McKean represented Delaware
  • (1774) Delaware sent Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean, George Read to First Continental Congress
  • (1775) Revolutionary War began
  • (1776) Delaware Assembly declared independence from England; Caesar Rodney, suffering from cancer and asthma, rode from Dover to Philadelphia to cast vote for independence; Three Lower Counties adopted constitution, became Delaware State
  • (1777) John McKinley became first governor of Delaware; Delaware signed Articles of Confederation; British troops marched across Delaware to Philadelphia; American troops retreated from British at Coochs Bridge; British occupied Wilmington; capital moved from New Castle to Dover
  • (1779) Delaware Assembly ratified Articles of Confederation
  • (1784) Thomas Coke, Francis Asbury established Methodist Church as separate denomination in U.S.
  • (1787) Delaware ratified U. S. Constitution; became nation's first state
  • (1788 - 1789) Abolitionist societies established in Wilmington, Dover
  • (1792) Second state constitution adopted; name changed to State of Delaware; public school fund established by state legislature; State House in Dover completed
  • (1798) British ship, DeBraak, sunk off Lewes; yellow fever epidemic spread to Wilmington
  • (1802) DuPont gunpowder mill established along Brandywine River near Wilmington
  • (1807) President Thomas Jefferson named Caesar Rodney U. S. Attorney General
  • (1812 - 1814) War of 1812 took place
  • (1814) Captain Thomas MacDonough of Delaware, defeated British on Lake Champlain (war's turning point); James Bayard of Delaware one of the signers of Treaty of Ghent ending War of 1812
  • (1828) Steamboat line between New Castle and Philadelphia opened
  • (1829) Delaware Canal opened; state legislature established public education system
  • (1832) Delaware adopted third state constitution; first peach orchard planted
  • (1838) Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore Railroad opened
  • (1844) America's first iron-hulled propeller steamship, the Bangor, launched at Wilmington
  • (1847) Proposed Senate act to abolish slavery defeated by one vote
  • (1855) State-wide prohibition law enacted
  • (1857) Prohibition law repealed
  • (1861 - 1865) Civil War occurred; more than 12,000 troops from Delaware joined Union Army; a few hundred joined Confederate Army
  • (1861) Delaware rejected invitation to join Confederacy; troops from Philadelphia garrisoned at Fort Delaware
  • (1862) Delaware troops distinguished themselves at Battle of Antietam; because of their reputation as fighters, they were nicknamed "Blue Hens" due to bluish cocks they had with them during campaigns
  • (1863) Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln; slaves not freed as Delaware fought for Union
  • (1865) 13th Amendment to U. S. Constitution abolished slavery; Delaware freed slaves
  • (1868) Delaware legislature voted against 14th Amendment to U. S. Constitution which guaranteed equal protection for all races

Delaware Photographs

Bangor Steamship British Troops Caesar Rodney Duke of York Henry Hudson Joe Biden Lincoln Peter Stuyvesant proclamation Thomas Bayard Thomas Coke Thomas Willing William Penn

Delaware Cities, Counties & Area Codes

City County Area Code
Dover Kent 302
Wilmington New Castle 302
Newark New Castle 302
Millsboro Sussex 302

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on July 10, 2020.