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Delaware State History


Seal Of Delaware

Europeans arrived in the area in 1609. For thousands of years before that, the land was inhabited by Native American tribes (the Delaware and the Nanticoke) who hunted, fished, and raised crops.

Henry Hudson

The English explorer, Henry Hudson, sailed into the Delaware Bay in 1609 in search of a northeast passage to China.

On behalf of the Dutch East India Company, he explored the area that is now New York and sailed up the river that is today known as the Hudson River.

Related: Delaware State Facts

The following year, Sir Samuel Argall sailed into the bay and called it De La Warr after the governor of Virginia, hence the name Delaware.


European Settlers

Dutch settlers settled in Delaware in 1631 but they were soon wiped out by the local tribe of Native Americans.

Next came some Swedish settlers who established the first permanent white settlement and called it Fort Christina.

They were most interested in furs and fur trading. The settlement became the city of Wilmington, which is Delaware’s largest city today.

Fort Christiana Wilmington New Castle County Delaware
For the next 30 years, the land was claimed by either the Dutch or England. In 1664, a British fleet of ships arrived and claimed the land for Britain. The area was renamed New York.  

Delaware became part of Pennsylvania. However, by 1704, Delaware had its government but shared a governor with Pennsylvania.

declaration of independence day

American Revolution

The population of Delaware was unsure whether they wanted to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It came down to one vote.

A man who rode through a thunderstorm and arrived in Philadelphia in time to cast his vote. Delaware joined the other colonies to declare independence from Britain’s rule.

Declaration Of Independence
During the Revolutionary War, not many battles were fought in Delaware. However, many men from Delaware served in the Continental Army.

They were fierce fighters and took the nickname “the Blue Hen’s Chicks” named after a fighting blue rooster, which later was adopted as Delaware’s state bird.


Statehood for Delaware

Delaware joined the Union after the Revolutionary War. In 1787, Delaware was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence to become the first state of the United States of America.

Delaware’s nickname has since been the ‘First State”.

Flag Of Delaware

Interesting Facts

The famous DuPont Company was originally founded in Wilmington, Delaware as a mill to produce gunpowder.

Over the years, it expanded into producing all types of products and became one of the largest chemical companies in the world.

DuPont was responsible for the development of Teflon, Mylar, Dacron, Lycra, and Orlon.

Secretary Pompeo Visits The Corteva Research Facility

DuPont Pioneer is just one of many companies operated by the parent company DuPont.

Dupont Pioneer is a producer of hybrid seeds and one of the largest producers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that are resistant to insects and herbicides.

Quiz Time!

quiz activity for kids


Who lived in the Delaware area before 1609?

Who were the settlers that were wiped out by the North American tribes in 1631?

Who established the first permanent white settlement in Delaware and what was it called?

How did the blue rooster become Delaware’s state bird?

Why do the people of Delaware call their state the “First State”?

Udel Memorial And Magnolia Circle


Before 1609, Native American tribes lived in the area, especially the Delaware and the Nanticoke tribes.

Dutch settlers who had come to the Delaware area in 1631 were wiped out by the native tribes.

Shortly after 1631, Swedish settlers build the first permanent white settlement and called it Fort Christina.

declaration of independence

Fierce fighting men from Delaware joined the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and were nicknamed “the Blue Hen Chicks” and after the Blue Hen became the state bird.

Delaware was the first state to sign the Declaration of Independence and has forever been called “The First State”.

Delaware State Capitol

US State History

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