National Delaware Day on July 13, recognizes the First State to declare independence from the British. Rich in history, Delaware’s lands once belonged to New York and later Pennsylvania. But the independent spirit of this beautiful coastal countryside is more than just legendary.
The Delaware River and Bay derived their names from the 12th Baron del la Warr, Thomas West, a governor of Virginia. The name later carried over to the land as well.
During the Second Continental Congress, Delaware’s delegates created a bit of suspense for the history books! Read more under Caesar Rodney and George Read.
Delaware became official in 1776 when the 13 colonies declared their independence from the British government and Delaware adopted its first territorial state constitution.
Delaware is proud of its First State status. With that comes many other firsts. Delaware boasts the earliest Swedish settlers in 1638 who built the Old Swedes Church which still stands. Now known as the Holy Trinity Church, it is one of the oldest churches in America. Swedish settlers built the first log cabins on American soil, too.
The Stars and Stripes flew for the first time during the Revolutionary War during the only battle to take place on Delaware soil.
Shipbuilding became big business first in Delaware in 1840. The first iron shipbuilding yard in the United States was founded in Delaware by Samuel Harlan of Betts, Pussey, and Harlan – machinery makers.
From ships to rails, Job H. Jackson and Jacob F. Sharp founded the Jackson and Sharp Company of Wilmington in 1863. By 1871 they built the first narrow-gauge railcar in the United States.
The coastal state also lays claim to the first bathing beauty contest in 1880. To attract business to a summer festival, the competition was held at Rehoboth Beach. Thomas Edison was one of the judges.
Known as the Chemical State, Delaware is a hub for manufacturing and munitions. In 1939, the world’s first nylon manufacturing plant opened in Seaford under the name of Dupont.
From land to sea, Delaware satisfies the appetite all season long. Once known as the best producer of peaches until a blight wiped out the orchards in the late 1800s, the state is making a comeback, and the peach blossom is their state flower.
Summer boardwalks and beaches fill with the salty sweetness of taffy and crab cakes made from the regions’ blue crab.
The world’s largest maker of scrapple, RAPA Scrapple Company, calls Bridgeville, Delaware home. Also the home of the World Champion Pumpkin Chunkin competition in the heartland of the state, an autumn drive will fill your basket with fresh produce, poultry and the season’s best baked and canned goods the farmers’ markets can produce.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL DELAWARE DAY
Explore the history and people of this beautiful state and use #NationalDelwareDay to share on social media.
In 2017, National Day Calendar began celebrating each state in the order they entered the union starting the week of Independence Day and ending with Hawaii. We highlight a small part of each states’ history, foods, and the people who make up the state. There’s so much more to explore!
Representing Delaware at the Continental Congress, Caesar Rodney (October 7, 1728 – June 26, 1784) was one fo the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence and began serving Delaware at a young age. Orphaned at the age of 17, Rodney, began his career in the role of clerk of court. He later rose toPresident of Delaware and served the state until his death in 1784. Absent during the vote for independence from England due to illness, Rodney’s vote was necessary to break a tie. His fellow Delaware delegate cast the only vote against independence, and all 13 colonies had to be in unanimous agreement before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.