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The Making of the 50 States: Delaware

Part 2: The Rest of the Story

Delaware was a seaboard colony, of course, and so had a thriving fishing business. The colony also had many trees and had a popular lumbering business as well.

Delaware was not only the first state to ratify the Constitution. It was also the deciding state in the battle over declaring independence from Great Britain. In a famous bit of history, a man named Caesar Rodney rode his horse from Delaware to Philadelphia, through thunderstorms and a heat wave, cast his state's vote in favor of independence. This event is commemorated on the new quarter coin.

When the Revolutionary War came, Delaware was right there with the other colonies, fighting for their freedom from Great Britain. In fact, Delaware declared itself free from Pennsylvania, too, and established its own state government.

Delaware contributed about 4,000 men to the war effort. That is a high number for such a small territory.

After the U.S. victory in the war, Delaware returned to its focus on fishing and lumbering. It also featured inventors, like Oliver Evans of Newport, who in 1785 invented the automatic flour milling machinery. This doesn't sound like much to us today, but the automatic flour mill saved lots of time and money.

In 1786, John Dickinson presided over the Annapolis Convention, which called for a Constitutional Convention. The very next year, the Constitution was ratified for the first time, by Delaware.

And that is how Delaware earned its slogan: "First State."

First page > In the Beginning > Page 1, 2

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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