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Delaware: The First State

Delaware was the first state to sign the Constitution and join the new United States.

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Delaware was the first state to sign the Constitution in 1787, making it the first state in the new Union. It is the second smallest state in America. Despite its small size, it still has a rich history that has earned it a few nicknames such as First State, Diamond State, and Small Wonder.

Early History

In 1631, the Dutch were the first Europeans to settle in the area. Their settlement, called Zwaanendael (Valley of Swans), was located near the present town of Lewes. The following year, in 1632, Captain David Pieterszen de Vries sailed into the area and discovered the settlement had burned down.

The land was then settled by the Swedish in 1638. They built the first permanent settlement at Fort Christian, now known as Wilmington. The land changed hands between the Dutch and the English over the next few decades. In 1655, the Dutch claimed the area. However, in 1664, a British fleet came and conquered it. In 1682, Delaware became part of the Pennsylvania colony and was known as the “Lower Counties on the Delaware.”

The American Revolutionary War changed a lot for the small state. When the war began in 1775, the people were not sure if they wanted to risk splitting from England. In 1776, when it was time to vote for the Declaration of Independence, politician Caesar Rodney knew his vote would be important. The night before the vote was to take place, he rode 70 miles through a thunderstorm just so that he could reach Philadelphia and place his vote in favor of declaring independence.

Kelli Ballard

National Correspondent at and Kelli Ballard is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Kelli now resides in the Seattle area.

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