History of Delaware
Before the European settlers came to the region, this area was inhabited by the Eastern Algonquian tribes known as Nanticoke and Unami Lenape. The former were closely related with the Munsee Lenape people that lived along the Hudson River. Their society was mainly based on the agriculture and hunting, but at one point they also became middlemen in the fur trade with their former enemy tribe Susquehannock or Minqua. They have lost their lands in 1670 when the Minqua were obliterated by the Iroquois, they had to migrate to Alleghany Mountains. The ones that refused to leave their ancestral lands were eventually converted into Christianity.
The first Europeans to settle in this region where the Dutch, who have established a trading post near Lewes in Zwaanendael in 1631. This first wave of settlers didn’t last a year in the region; they were all killed in skirmishes with the local Native American tribes. The next settlement in the region was established in 1638 by a group of Finns, Dutch and Swedes that were led by Peter Minuit. It was cantered round the Fort Christina, This new settlement, known as New Sweden, managed to survive for 17 years. In 1651 the Dutch established their fort in the area of today’s Newcastle and 4 years later, in 1655, they besieged the Swedish colony and finally annexed it into their colony of New Netherland. However, their colony was not destined to last either; it was attacked by the English naval forces and taken by Sir Robert Carr in 1664 for the Duke of York. In 1682 the Duke has transferred the ownership of the colony to William Penn, who owned the Pennsylvania province at the time and wanted the access to the sea that the territory of the Lower Counties of Delaware provided.
For a while, the two territories were handled by the same Great assembly, but in 1704, Pennsylvania that was now too large to be willing to have to depend on the lower Counties of Delaware in making of various territory related decisions started having separate sessions from the representatives of Delaware. The representatives from Pennsylvania met in Philadelphia, while those from Delaware were meeting in New Castle. But both territories were still owned by Pen and his successors, and they always shared the same Governor. As the influx of the English settlers decreased, the colony started importing more slaves for work on tobacco fields.
The Lower Counties of Delaware, just like most of the middle colonies, weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of a revolution. They had significantly more freedom and better living conditions than some other colonies, and they had good trading relations with Great Britain. This is why they have just manged to get enough votes for the starting of the revolution. The territory of Delaware didn’t see too many battles, actually the only one fought on this soil was the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge. The British have managed to maintain a strong presence in the area. They controlled the Delaware River for the duration of the conflict and at one point offered freedom to slaves who would fight on their side.
Most of the colonial settlers that were coming to this region were from Virginia and Maryland as these colonies were getting too crowded. They have increased the interest of the local population for the most important industry of their original colonies, tobacco planting. For a while this industry thrived in Delaware with just the new settlers from England serving as the workforce. But as the conditions in England improved and the number of settlers that were willing to come to the colony decreased, the tobacco farms owners needed a new source of workforce. This gap was filled with slave labor.
However, after the American Revolution, people slowly started freeing their slaves. This was partially because of the fact that tobacco farming gave way to mixed farming, which required less labor, and partly out of idealistic reasons that have started to emerge among the slave owners. Local Quakers and Methodists were constantly encouraging slave owners to free their slaves, and their pleas were quite effective. By the year 1810 somewhere around three quarters of black people in this state were free. There were attempts to completely abolish slavery in the state, but the motions always lost, with just a slight majority of votes keeping Delaware a slave state. But even though it was still legally a slave state, the practice of holding slaves was almost non-existent, it was determined that in 1860 91.7% of black residents were free.
Even though it was still technically a slave state when the Civil War began, Delaware deiced to remain in the Union. In 1861, it voted against the secession. Some of the Delaware’s resident volunteered for the Confederate army, but Delaware was still the only slave state that provided no Confederate regiments. When the 17th Amendment was ratified in 1865, Delaware’s remaining slave owners freed the last 1,000 enslaved people.
In 2010 the GSP of Delaware was $62.3 billion. This has placed the per capita income in the state at $34,199 which means the Delaware was the state with the 9th largest per capita income in the nation. In 2005 the average weekly wage in the state was $937 which was the 7th largest weekly wage in the US. The prices of real estate in Delaware have been decreasing for a while now, but this trend is common for most of the states. One of the larger industries in Delaware is agriculture with the main products being soybeans, poultry, corn, dairy products and nursery stock. The largest employers in the state are government, banking, pharmaceutical and chemical companies, healthcare and manufacturers of automotive parts. It is also important to mention the Dover Air Force Base as one of the larger employers in the state.
Delaware’s corporation law is very business-friendly, which has made this state the headquarters of 60% of the presently operational Fortune 500 companies and 50% of publicly traded US corporations. Somewhere around a fifth of the state’s revenue comes from the franchise taxes.
There are six income tax brackets in Delaware that go from 5.95% to 2.2%. Most businesses are required to pay a tax on the gross receipts, but consumers don’t have to worry about the sales tax. Gambling is one of the important sources of revenue for the state. It has been estimated that in 2010 the Delaware Park Racetrack casino brought over $100 million to Delaware.
Geography and Climate in Delaware
Delaware’s width fluctuates between 9 and 35 miles and the state is 96 miles long, which gives it a total area of 1,954 square miles and makes it the 2nd smallest state in the US, just after Rhode Island. Delaware has Delaware Bay, New Jersey, Delaware River and Atlantic Ocean on the east, Maryland to the south and west and Pennsylvania to the north. Along with the two of the Virginia’s counties and Maryland’s Eastern Shore counties, Delaware is a part of the Delmarva Peninsula. This state has a somewhat odd, circular northern boundary with Pennsylvania. It was defined by drawing a circle with the diameter of 12 miles around the New Castle courthouse. This is where this part of the border gets its name of Twelve Mile Circle from.
Delaware’s average elevation is the lowest in the United States. The highest elevation in Delaware, found near Concord High School at Ebright Azimuth doesn’t go above 450 feet above the sea level. The northern part of Delaware belongs to the Appalachian Piedmont and it consists of rolling surfaces and hills. The southern part of the state is the Atlantic Coastal Plain with swampy or sandy terrain. There is ridge in the western part of the state that separates the Chesapeake Bay on the west and the state’s watersheds that are giving a significant portion of water to the Delaware River. The state has a rather diverse plant life. The northern part of the state can boast mixed oak forests as well as beautiful Northern coastal forests, while in the southern parts Middle Atlantic coastal forests are more common.
Because of the fact that Delaware is entirely in the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the ocean has great effect on the climate in the state. The climate varies between a continental and a humid subtropical. Even though they are rather close one to another, the counties of New Castle and Sussex can have rather different average temperatures and amounts of snowfall or precipitation. The climate is milder in the southern part of the state, and the growing season generally lasts somewhat longer in those parts. Both the Highest and the lowest temperatures in Delaware were recorded in Millsboro, the lowest temperature was −17 °F and it was recorded in 1893, while the highest was 110 °F and it was recorded in 1930.
Population of Delaware
In 2011 the population of Delaware was estimated at 907,135 which was an increase of 1.02% since the previous year. In 2010 when the state had 897,934 inhabitants, the ethnic makeup of population was as follows: non-Hispanic white citizens accounted for 65.3% of the population, Hispanic white for 3.6%, African American for 21.4%, Alaska Native and American Indian for 0.5%, Asian for 3.2%, there were no people of Hawaiian origin and people of other races and those who have more than one race in their ancestry made up for 6.1% of the total population. With the population density of 442.6 people on square mile (for comparison, the national average is 86.2 people per square mile), Delaware has the 6th highest population density in the United States, while still being the 45th state when the number of inhabitants is concerned. Apart from Wyoming, North Dakota, Maine, Vermont and West Virginia, it is the only state that doesn’t have at least one city with more than 100,000 residents. English is spoken by 91% of the residents, Spanish by 5%, French by 0.7%, Chinese by 0.5% and German by 0.5%.
When asked in poll about their religion 20% declared themselves as Methodists, 19% as Baptists, 17% said they were not religious, 9% were Roman Catholics, 4% Lutheran, 3% Presbyterian, 3% Pentecostal, 2% Episcopalian or Anglican, 2% Seven Day Adventist, 1% Churches of Christ believers, 3% of Christians of other denominations, 2% Muslim, 1% Jewish and 9% refused to answer. Separate studies determined that the religions with the most adherents are the Catholic Church with 151,740 believers, with the United Methodist Church being the second with 59,471 adherents and, finally, the Presbyterian Church with 14,880 members. In 2012, 33% of Delaware’s inhabitants declared themselves as non religious, 34% as moderately religious and 33% as very religious.
Delaware Government and Legislature
Just like all of the other US states Delaware is a republic with three government branches – executive, legislative and judicial. Executive branch has a number of elected officials such as Secretary of the State and Attorney General. The highest of these officials is the Governor, who is elected on the same ticket with the Lieutenant Governor, who is there to assume the duties of the Governor if he or she becomes unable to perform them for any reason. Each year, the Governor of the state holds the State of the State speech to members of Delaware legislature.
The main body of Delaware’s legislative branch is the General Assembly, which itself consists of two separate government bodies – Senate that has 21 members and a House of Representatives with 41 members. Houses of great assembly are located in the state’s capital, Dover. Members of the Senate are elected into four year terms, while the members of the House of Representatives have two year terms.
Judicial branch of Delaware is composed of a number of courts with different jurisdictions and positions within the judicial hierarchy. The highest court in Delaware is the Delaware Supreme Court, it has general jurisdiction. Some of the other courts include the Family Court, which deals with domestic matters and often decides on custody, Delaware court of Common Pleas which deals with certain types of criminal and civil matters and Delaware Court of Chancery. Delaware is one of just several states that still have a Court of Chancery. These courts mainly deal with corporate disputes, usually pertaining to acquisitions and mergers. This court often works in unison with the state’s Supreme Court on the matters on corporate law.
Delaware has only three counties which is fewer than all of the other states. Form south to north these counties are Sussex, Kent County and New Castle. Every county has the right and the obligation of choosing its own legislative body – called County Council in Sussex and New Castle and Levy Court in Kent County. These bodies mainly deal in development and zoning issues, as the other functions that are in the other states usually handled by the county governments, such as law enforcement, have in Delaware been rather centralized.
Delaware currently favors the Democratic Party, which is mainly caused by the political tendencies in the New Castle region that has the majority of voters in the state. Since 1988 this county didn’t vote for a Republican option in the presidential elections once. Even though other two counties favored the Republican candidates in 2004, 2000 and 1992, this was not enough to sway the state in that direction. This difference in numbers of inhabitants also means that New Castle has a large majority in the election of officer in the legislature.
DelDOT (Delaware Department of Transportation) is responsible for Delaware’s system of transportation. Most of its funding comes from Delaware Transportation Trust Fund that was started in 1987 with the goal of stabilization of the Delaware’s transportation funding. The fact that it has independent funding has made Delaware Department of Transportation function separately from other government operations in the state. This department is responsible for management of the toll roads, traffic control infrastructure and snow removal. In 2009 this department was responsible for the maintenance of 89% of the state’s roads which comes around to 13,507 miles, the remaining 11% being under the jurisdictions of different municipalities.
Delaware has one branch of the United States Interstate Highway System crossing it from northeast to southwest. It is the Interstate 95 and it passes through New Castle County. There are six more US highways going through this state – US Route 301, US Route 202, US Route 113, US Route 40, US Route 12 and US Route 9. Apart from these there are also some state highways such as Delaware Route 404, Delaware Route 9 and Delaware Route 1. Delaware can also boast a bicycle route that spans the entire state from the south to the north. It stretches all the way from Pennsylvania border to the border with Maryland. It is estimated that there are 1,450 bridges in Delaware, 95% of which are supervised by the Delaware Department of Transportation. Some 30% of them were built before the year 1950.
Despite its size, the state also has three ferry lines, Three Forts Ferry Crossing, Woodland Ferry and Cape May-Lewes Ferry. The state’s rail system is rather efficient and reliable. There are two Amtrak stations in the state, the busy Wilmington Rail Station and the somewhat quieter Newark Rail Station. There is also an important freight railroad - Class I railroad Norfolk Southern.
Delaware is currently the only US state that doesn’t have commercial air service. Skybus Airlines is the last company that has been operating from the New Castle airport in the vicinity of Wilmington. They were operational for about a month before the company was declared bankrupt. People in need of airline transport usually use either Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport or Philadelphia International Airport. Those from the Sussex County are also quite close to the Wicomico Regional Airport.
Tourism in Delaware
Delaware doesn’t have any national parks, monuments, memorials, battlefields or seashores, but that does not mean that it has nothing to offer to tourists. There are a great number of interesting lighthouses, parks, wildlife refuges and museums that attract a lot of tourists each year. The state is also were the 2nd longest twin span suspension bridge in the world, the Delaware Memorial Bridge is located. There are also a number of beach resorts in this state such as Fenwick Island, South Bethany, Bethany Beach, Dewey Beach, Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, to name just a few. The last one is also known as the Nation’s Summer Capital because of the large number of tourists from Washington D.C.
The state also has a number of events, fairs and festivals such as Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral that marks the end of summer, Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival, Riverfest, Apple Scrapple Festival, Sea Witch Halloween Festival and Parade and the World Championship Punkin Chunkin that doesn’t have a fixed location, but is instead often moving around the state.