The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Delaware (state)

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1521647The American Cyclopædia — Delaware (state)J. W. Hawes

DELAWARE, one of the original thirteen states of the American Union, situated between lat. 38° 28' and 39° 50' N., and lon. 75° and 75° 46' W., bounded N. by Pennsylvania, W. and S. by Maryland, and E. by Delaware river and bay (separating Delaware and New Jersey) and the Atlantic ocean; length N. and S. 96 m.; breadth from 9 to 12 m. on the N. to 36 or 37 m. on the S. line; area, 2,120 sq. m., or 1,356,800 acres.

Seal of Delaware.

The state is divided into three counties, viz.: New Castle in the north, Kent in the middle, and Sussex in the south; and these are subdivided into hundreds. Wilmington (pop. in 1870, 30,841), the only city, near the confluence of Brandywine and Christiana creeks, is extensively engaged in manufacturing. Dover (pop. 1,906), the capital, is situated on Jones's creek, 5 m. from the Delaware. Other towns in the order of population, having more than 500 inhabitants, are Smyrna, North Milford, Camden, and Frederica, in Kent co.; New Castle, Delaware City, Middletown, Newark, and Odessa, in New Castle co.; Seaford, Lewes, Laurel, Milton, South Milford, and Georgetown, in Sussex co. The population in 1790, and at subsequent decennial periods down to the year 1870, has been as follows:

 CENSUS.  White. Free
 Slave.  Total.

1790 46,310  3,899   8,887  59,094 
1800 49,852  8,268  6,153 64,273 
1810 55,361  13,136  4,177 72,674 
1820 55,282  12,958  4,509 72,749 
1880 57,601  15,855  3,292 76,748 
1840 58,561  16,919  2,605 78,085 
1850 71,169  18,073  2,290 91,532 
1860 90,589  19,829  1,798 112,216 
1870  102,221  22,794  ....  125,015 

Of the total population in 1870, 115,879 were native and 9,136 foreign born; 62,628 were males, and 62,387 females. Of the natives, 94,754 were born in the state, 8,764 in Pennsylvania, 7,146 in Maryland, 2,039 in New Jersey, and 1,311 in New York. Of the foreigners, 5,907 were born in Ireland, 1,421 in England, and 1,142 in Germany. There were 38,665 persons born in the state living in other states and territories. Of the colored, 20,570 were blacks, and 2,224 mulattoes. There were 28,207 male citizens of the United States 21 years old and over. In aggregate population Delaware ranks as the 34th among the states; gain since 1860, 11.41 per cent. There were 19,356 persons 10 years old and over unable to read, and 23,100 unable to write. Of the latter number, 20,631 were natives and 2,469 foreigners; 11,280 were white and 11,820 colored; 10,973 were males and 12,127 females; 16,002 were 21 years old and over, and 7,098 were between 10 and 21. Of those over 21 years of age, 3,466 were white males and 4,566 white females, 3,765 colored males and 4,205 colored females. There were 22,900 families and 22,577 dwellings. There were 68 blind persons, 61 deaf and dumb, 65 insane, and 69 idiotic. There were 453 paupers, of whom 180 were colored and 50 foreigners. The number of persons convicted of crime during the year was 145. Of the population 10 years old and over, 15,973 were returned as engaged in agriculture, 11,389 in professional and personal services, 3,437 in trade and transportation, and 9,514 in manufactures and mining. Included in these numbers are 8,131 agricultural laborers, 7,642 farmers and planters, 150 clergymen, 4,742 domestic servants, 4,769 laborers, 84 lawyers, 170 physicians and surgeons, 377 teachers, 845 cotton and woollen mill operatives, and 316 iron and steel workers.—Delaware comprehends the N. E. portion of the low peninsula between Chesapeake bay, Delaware river, and the Atlantic ocean. It contains no mountains, but in the north the surface is beautifully diversified by hill and dale. Southward of Christiana creek the surface is almost a perfect level, and is only relieved by a low table land or sand ridge, nowhere more than 60 or 70 ft. high, which traverses the state N. and S. near the W. boundary, and forms the watershed of the peninsula. This table land abounds in swamps, in which most of the rivers and streams have their sources, some flowing W. into Chesapeake bay, and others E. into the Delaware. The Choptank, Nanticoke, and Pokomoke, the headwaters of which are in this state, have their greatest lengths in Maryland and flow into the Chesapeake. The Appoquinnimink, Duck, Jones's, Murderkill, Mispilion, Broadkill, Indian, and other rivers and creeks are affluents of the Delaware and Atlantic. The most important streams are the Brandywine and Christiana creeks, the former coming in from Pennsylvania, and the latter from the southwest. These unite below Wilmington, and fall into the Delaware 1 m. below their junction. Many of the smaller rivers are navigable for coasting vessels, but the Christiana is the only one in the state that admits merchant ships. The coast along Delaware bay is marshy and low; along the Atlantic it is beset with sand beaches which enclose shallow bays, or more properly lagoons. Rehoboth bay, at the mouth of Indian river, is a basin of this description, but admits vessels drawing 6 ft. of water. At the S. extremity of the state is the Cypress swamp, 12 m. long and 6 m. wide, which contains a great variety of trees and evergreen shrubs, and is infested with noxious reptiles. Bog iron ore is found in the swamps, and shell marl occurs abundantly. In the north are deposits of kaolin or porcelain clay, which have supplied the Philadelphia works. In 1870 there were two iron mines in New Castle co., yielding 3,600 tons of ore, worth $10,800. The climate is in general mild and highly favorable to agriculture. The N. and more elevated region has a remarkably salubrious atmosphere; but where the surface is swampy, as in the S. part of the state, endemic sickness prevails to a considerable extent. In 1870 there were 1,561 deaths, of which 673 were from general diseases, 148 from diseases of the nervous, 69 of the circulatory, 226 of the respiratory, and 216 of the digestive system, and 60 from accidents and injuries. Of special diseases, consumption proved fatal in 296 cases, pneumonia in 126, enteric fever in 91, and cholera infantum in 87. For 8 or 10 m. inland from the Delaware the soils are generally rich clays, but thence to the swamps and southward sand prevails. The natural productions are similar to those of the middle region of the United States generally. Peach raising is one of the main industries. In 1870 the number of acres of improved land was 698,115. The productions were 895,477 bushels of wheat, 10,222 of rye, 3,010,390 of Indian corn, 554,388 of oats, 1,799 of barley, 1,349 of buckwheat, 362,724 of Irish and 85,309 of sweet potatoes, 3,123 of peas and beans, 60 of grass and 2,228 of clover seed, 356 of fiaxseed, 41,890 tons of hay, 1,171,963 lbs. of butter, 58,316 of wool, 33,151 of honey, 800 of wax, 878 of flax, 800 of hops, 65,908 gallons of sorghum molasses, 1,552 of wine, and 758,603 gallons of milk sold. There were 16,770 horses, 3,584 mules and asses, 24,082 milch cows, 6,888 working oxen, 19,020 other cattle, 22,714 sheep, and 39,818 swine. There were besides 1,863 horses and 4,000 cattle not on farms. The cash value of farms was $46,712,870; of farming implements and machinery, $1,201,644; wages paid during the year, including value of board, $1,696,571; estimated value of all farm products, including betterments and additions to stock, $8,171,667; value of orchard products, $1,226,893; of produce of market gardens, $198,075; forest products, $111,810; home manufactures, $33,070; animals slaughtered or sold for slaughter, $997,403; live stock, $4,257,323. In 1872, 3,569,526 baskets of peaches, yielding to the growers the sum of $1,327,810, and 3,472,000 quarts of strawberries, worth $227,260, were sent to market. In 1870 there were 800 manufacturing establishments, with 164 steam engines of 4,313 horse power, and 234 water wheels of 4,220 horsepower; employing 9,710 hands, of whom 7,705 were males above 16 years of age, 1,199 females above 16, and 806 youth; capital invested, $10,839,093; wages paid, $3,692,195; value of materials, $10,206,397; of products, $16,791,382. The following table exhibits the number of establishments, hands employed, capital, &c., of the principal branches:

Capital. Value of
Value of

Bleaching and dyeing 23  $30,000  $171,619  $192,049 
Boots and shoes 67  373  112,253  243,131  490,698 
Bricks 14  365  210,602  49,806  218,496 
Carriages and wagons 50  714  517,450  360,730  842,176 
Cars, freight and passenger 734  495,000  489,000  947,860 
Cotton goods 726   1,165,000  704,733  1,060,808 
Fertilizers 61  158,000  178,308  217,737 
Flouring and grist mill products 103  277  777,554   1,746,850   2,067,401 
Fruits canned and preserved 411  63,450  90,620  212,273 
Gunpowder 318  1,400,000  418,854  737,800 
Iron, forged and rolled 305  544,200  526,830  823,836 
Iron, bolts, nuts, nails, &c 63  87,742  110,933  143,080 
Iron, castings (not specified) 18  471  592,275  761,339  1,085,557 
Leather, tanned 10  85  227,000  171,746  244,993 
Leather, curried 70  96,024  225,384  279,962 
Leather, morocco tanned and curried 10  439  586,994  951,649  1,401,317 
Leather, patent and enamelled 15  20,000  102,243  124,574 
Lumber, sawed 80  311  290,424  229,856  405,041 
Machinery (not specified) 165  198,000  99,740  216,211 
Machinery, steam engines and boilers 305  307,000  186,900  423,217 
Matches 189  139,000  203,552  321,300 
Ship building, repairing, and ship materials  771  435,500  476,815  1,003,100 
Woollen goods 893  383,000  388,054  569,721 

The commerce of Delaware is small and principally domestic. For the year ending June 30, 1872, the imports from foreign countries amounted to $6,634; exports to foreign ports, $53,914; entered from foreign countries, 2 vessels of 342 tons; cleared for foreign ports, 5 vessels of 1,171 tons; entered in the coastwise trade, 27 steam vessels, 10,562 tons, and 39 sailing vessels, 7,304 tons; cleared in the coastwise trade, 2 steam vessels, 825 tons, and 7 sailing vessels, 1,449 tons; registered, enrolled, and licensed, 193 vessels with an aggregate tonnage of 16,654; built during the year, 17 vessels of 5,762 tons. The state in 1851 contained 39 m. of completed railroad; in 1861, 127 m.; in 1871, 227 m.; and in 1872, 254 m. The lines lying wholly or partly within its limits are: the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore, connecting Philadelphia and Baltimore; the New Castle and Frenchtown (owned and operated by the above), from New Castle to Delaware Junction; the New Castle and Wilmington, between those two points; the Delaware railroad, from Delaware Junction to Delmar, on the Maryland line; the Dorchester and Delaware, from Seaford to Cambridge, Md.; the Kent County, from Townsend to Massey's Junction, Md.; the Maryland and Delaware railroad, from Clayton to Easton, Md.; the Junction and Breakwater, from Harrington to Lewes; the Wilmington and Reading, from Wilmington to Reading, Pa.; and the Wilmington and Western railroad, connecting Wilmington and Landenberg, Pa. The Chesapeake and Delaware canal connects by a channel navigable for coasting vessels the waters so called. It extends W. from Delaware City, 46 m. below Philadelphia, to Chesapeake City, on Back creek, a navigable branch of Elk river in Maryland, 13½ m., and is 66 ft. wide at the top and 10 ft. deep, with two tide and two lift locks, and a deep cut for 4 m. through a hill 90 ft. high; this work was completed in 1829 at a cost of $2,250,000. A canal between Salem creek and the Delaware river, begun nearly a century ago, has recently been completed. A ship canal is contemplated, to connect the waters of Chesapeake and Delaware bays, passing from Sassafras river across the state near Smyrna. There are in the state 11 national banks, with $1,528,185 capital; 5 state banks, with $780,000 capital; and 1 life and 4 fire insurance companies.—The constitution of Delaware grants the right of voting to all free white male citizens 21 years of age, who have resided in the state one year, and in the county one month next preceding an election, and have, “within two years next before the election, paid a county tax, which shall have been assessed at least six months before the election;” but persons between the ages of 21 and 22 years, otherwise qualified, may vote without the payment of any tax. Under the provisions of the 15th amendment to the constitution of the United States, colored citizens have the right of suffrage on the same terms as whites. The general assembly consists of a senate of 9 members (3 from each county), chosen for four years, and a house of representatives of 21 members (7 from each county), chosen for two years. Senators must be 27 years of age, and “have, in the county in which they shall be chosen, a freehold estate in 200 acres of land, or an estate in real or personal property, or in either, of the value of 1,000 pounds at least.” Representatives must be 24 years of age. Every member of the legislature must “have been a citizen and inhabitant of the state three years next preceding the first meeting of the legislature after his election, and the last year of that term an inhabitant of the county in which he shall be chosen.” The pay of senators and representatives is $3 a day and mileage. The elections are held on the second Tuesday of November. The legislature meets biennially on the first Tuesday of January in odd years. The governor is elected for four years, and has a salary of $1,333; he must be 30 years of age, have resided in the state six years next before his election, and have been 12 years a citizen of the United States. He is not eligible for a second term. The state treasurer and auditor (salary $600 each) are elected by the general assembly for two years; the term of the secretary of state (salary $500 and fees) is four years. The attorney general (salary $500 and fees) holds office for five years. The governor has the power to remit fines and forfeitures, and to grant reprieves and pardons, except in cases of impeachment, and appoints all officers established by the constitution and by law, whose appointment is not otherwise provided for in the constitution. The house of representatives has the power of impeachment, two thirds of all the members concurring. The senate constitutes the court for the trial of impeachments, and two thirds of the senators must concur in a conviction. There are five judges, one of whom is chancellor and president of the orphans' court, one is chief justice of the state, and three are associate justices, one resident in each county. The chief justice and two of the associates form the superior court and court of general sessions, and all the judges except the chancellor form the court of oyer and terminer. The court of errors and appeals is composed of three or more judges. The orphans' court consists of the chancellor and the associate judge of the county. Judges are appointed by the governor, and hold office during good behavior. Probate courts are held by registers of wills, with appeal to the superior court. The salary of the chancellor and the chief justice is $2,000 each, and of the associate justices $1,700 each. Ministers of the gospel are prohibited from holding any civil office in the state. No act of incorporation can be passed except with the concurrence of two thirds of each branch of the legislature, and with a power of revocation reserved, nor for a longer period than 20 years, unless it be an incorporation for public improvement. Amendments to the constitution must be proposed by two thirds of each house, with the approval of the governor, and be ratified by three fourths of each branch of the legislature after the next general election of representatives. Conventions can be called only by the authority of the people, expressed at a special election ordered by the legislature. Treason, murder in the first degree, rape, arson when committed on a dwelling or building connected therewith, and breaking and entering a dwelling at night with intent to commit murder, rape, or arson, are punished with death. Murder in the second degree is punished by imprisonment for life. Other punishments are fines, imprisonment for a term of years, standing in pillory not more than an hour, and public whipping with not more than 60 lashes. The superior court has sole cognizance of actions for divorce. Adultery of the wife and impotence of either party at the time of marriage are grounds for absolute divorce. An absolute or a limited divorce, in the discretion of the court, may be granted for adultery of the husband, for extreme cruelty, for wilful absence of either party from the other for three years with the intention of abandonment, and for various other causes. The real estate, mortgages, stocks, and silver plate belonging to a woman at marriage, or to which she becomes entitled during marriage, are her separate property, not subject to the control nor liable for the debts of her husband; but she cannot make a conveyance without his consent. The valuation of property, according to the federal censuses, has been as follows:

YEARS. ASSESSED VAL0E.  True value of 
real and
personal estate.

Total. Real estate.  Personal estate. 

1850 .........  .........  .........   $21,062,556 
1860  $39,767,233   $26,273,803  $13,493,430  46,242,181 
1870 64,787,223  48,744,783  16,042,440  97,180,833 

The total taxation in 1870 was $418,092, of which $83,666 was state tax, $189,994 county tax, and $144,432 town, city, &c., tax. The county debt amounted to $139,875; the town, city, &c., debt was $386,250. Previous to the civil war there was no state debt, but during its continuance bonds to the amount of $1,110,000 were issued to pay bounties to volunteers, and to aid drafted men to pay commutation and procure substitutes. Bonds to the amount of $352,000 have been lent to the Junction and Breakwater railroad, secured by a first mortgage on the entire road. The outstanding debt, Dec. 15, 1872, was $1,325,000; $137,000 having been paid, mostly during the preceding year. The bonds lent to the Delaware railroad, and guaranteed by the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore company, the payment of which is amply provided for, are not regarded as forming part of the state debt. Of the outstanding bonds, $165,000 mature Jan. 15, 1875; the remainder of the war bonds become due in January, 1885; while the $352,000 railroad bonds run till 1890. The state has a fund of $452,419 for the support of free schools, and a general fund of $471,800, both invested in local institutions and enterprises, leaving a net indebtedness of only $400,781. The oyster fund is derived from licenses, and from the lease of oyster plantations in the Delaware river. The receipts and expenditures from Jan. 18, 1871, to Dec. 15, 1872, were as follows:

Source. Amount.
Vacant land $112 07
Interest on investments 26,272 50
Clerks of the peace, for licenses 55,587 72
Fines and forfeitures 441 63
Railroads 45,858 62
Tax on bank shares 5,695 76
County treasurers 53,762 84
County officers (clerks of courts) 4,448 52
Tax on insurance companies 1,650 00
Oysterfund 5,688 80
Belonging to the school fund 5,189 71

Total $204,708 17
Source. Amount.
Railroad instalment $1,150 00
Attorney general 1,125 00
Coupons and bonds 169,871 60
Judiciary 7,950 00
Executive and secretary of state 2,800 00
Publishing laws and printing 602 30
Librarian 150 00
Legislative committee 1,000 29
Resolutions of general assembly 46 00
Vol. ii. of Houston's reports 1,000 00
Incidental expenses 16 42

Total $185,711 61

At the latter date the treasury contained $58,046 82. The rate of interest is 6 per cent. There is no state prison, convicts being confined in the county jails. The blind, deaf and dumb, and insane are provided for by the counties, when poor, or sent to the Pennsylvania institutions, at the expense of the state. Delaware is entitled to one representative in congress.—The school system of Delaware is very imperfect, and has remained substantially the same for many years. There is no state or county superintendence, educational matters being left to the voters of the school districts, of which there are 370. The voters of each district meet annually on the first Saturday of April, and elect one member of the school committee, who serves for three years. They also decide what sum shall be raised for school purposes for the ensuing year, and whether it shall be raised by taxation; if a school tax is negatived, the sum agreed upon may be raised by subscription. Not more than $400 can be appropriated for schools in each district, nor more than $500 for building and repairing school houses; but a minimum, fixed by law, must be raised by taxation or subscription to entitle the district to its share of the state school fund. The schools are free to all white children over five years of age. The committees have general supervision of schools in their respective districts, and are authorized to levy a tax for the support of schools in each district of New Castle co. of $100; of Kent co., $50; and of Sussex co., $30. In the city of Wilmington the interests of education are better cared for. Its schools are under the immediate supervision of a superintendent appointed by the board of education, which consists of 30 members elected by the people, and has full control both of the schools and of the amount to be raised for their support. The state school fund is derived from the income of the share of the “surplus revenue” received by Delaware from the United States, and from a portion of the proceeds of certain fees and licenses. In 1869 $113,727 77 was expended for school purposes, of which $81,697 46 was raised by contribution, and $32,030 31 derived from the school fund. According to the federal census of 1870, 19,965 children attended school during the year, of whom 9,862 were white males and 8,908 white females, 663 colored males and 532 colored females. There were 375 schools of all kinds, having 147 male and 363 female teachers; income for year ending June 1, $212,712, of which $120,429 was derived from taxation and public funds, and $92,283 from other sources, including tuition fees; 326 of the schools, having 388 teachers, were public, of which one was a normal school, 12 were graded common schools, and 313 ungraded schools. Of those not public, 11, including 2 colleges and 9 academies, were classical schools, 14 day and boarding schools, and 24 parochial and charity schools. The state makes no provision for the education of colored children. The Delaware association for the moral improvement and education of the colored people, a charitable organization, had 20 schools in operation in 1871, with 1,040 pupils enrolled, and an average attendance of about 800. The Delaware state normal university, at Wilmington, was organized in 1866 and incorporated in 1867, but from political motives an act was passed in 1871 to repeal its charter. It continues, however, in successful operation, and in 1871-'2 had 11 instructors (6 male and 5 female) and 221 students, of whom 68 were females. It consists of a normal and high school, with 17 male and 18 female students; a mechanical and commercial school, with 79 students (male); a select school for the ordinary English branches, with 29 male and 29 female students; and a primary school, with 28 male and 21 female pupils. The university confers the degree of bachelor of teaching. The Wesleyan female college, at Wilmington, organized in 1839, in 1872 had 12 instructors, 132 students, of whom 60 were in the preparatory department, and a library of 3,500 volumes. Delaware college, at Newark, a state institution, organized in 1870, in 1872 had 10 instructors, 105 students, of whom 93 were in the preparatory department, and a library of 6,000 volumes. It has recently been opened to female students. The congressional grant of 90,000 acres of land for an agricultural college has been given to this institution, and an agricultural department with 3 professors has been organized. In 1870 there were 473 libraries in the state, containing 183,423 volumes, of which 221, with 91,148 volumes, were private; 223, with 55,851 volumes, Sabbath school; 23, with 9,400 volumes, church; 5, with 23,024 volumes, circulating libraries; and 1, with 4,000 volumes, the state library. There were 17 newspapers and periodicals, having an aggregate circulation of 20,860. Of these, 1 was daily, 3 were semi-weekly, 12 weekly, and 1 monthly. The number of church organizations was 267, having edifices, sittings, and property as follows:

 DENOMINATIONS.   Edifices.   Sittings.   Value of property. 

Baptist 2,950  $131,000 
Episcopal 27  8,975  246,850 
Friends 3,425  64,600 
Lutheran 300  5,000 
Methodist 166  51,924  781,000 
New Jerusalem 300  20,000 
Presbyterian 82  13,875  384,500 
Roman Catholic  6,000  170,000 
Unitarian 300  17,000 
Universalist 350  4,000 

Total 252  87,899  $1,823,950 

—Delaware takes its name from Lord De la Ware or Delawarr, governor of Virginia, who entered the bay in 1610; but the discovery of the Delaware was made by Hudson in 1609. In 1629 one Godyn, a director in the Dutch West India company, in whose service Hudson had sailed, purchased of the natives a tract of land near the mouth of the river; and next year De Vries, with 30 colonists from Holland, settled near Lewes. Three years later the whole colony was destroyed by the natives. In 1637 the Swedish West India company sent out a colony of Swedes and Finns, which arrived at Cape Henlopen early in 1638, and, after purchasing all the lands from the cape to the falls near Trenton, erected a fort at the mouth of Christiana creek. They named the country Nya Sveriga, or New Sweden. The subsequent settlements of the Swedes were mostly within the present limits of Pennsylvania, and in 1643 their headquarters were erected on the island of Tinicum, a few miles below Philadelphia. These proceedings were protested against by the Dutch of New Amsterdam, who claimed the country by right of discovery and settlement, and with a view to the expulsion of the intruders built Fort Casimir (now New Castle), 5 m. S. of Fort Christiana. This, however, was captured by the Swedes in 1654; but the next year the Dutch from New Netherlands attacked and reduced the Swedish forts, and sent to Europe all the colonists who refused allegiance to Holland. Thus ended the transient connection of Sweden with the colonial history of the United States. From this period to 1664, when New Netherlands was conquered by the English, the Delaware settlements continued under the control of the Dutch authorities. The duke of York now came into possession of all the Dutch had occupied, and the English laws were established on both sides of the river. In the mean time, however, Lord Baltimore asserted his claim to the country on the west side of the river as a part of his grant, which extended to lat. 40° N., but excepted tracts then already occupied; and frequent incursions were made from Maryland with the view of driving away the settlers. At length William Penn, having obtained a grant of Pennsylvania, and being desirous of owning the land on the west bank of the Delaware to the sea, procured from the duke of York a release of all his title and claim to New Castle and 12 m. round it, and to the land between this tract and the sea. In Octo- ber, 1682, he arrived at New Castle, and in the presence of the inhabitants produced his deeds and accepted the surrender of the territory. Lord Baltimore still asserted his claim, but Penn resisted it on the ground that at the time of the grant of Maryland the territory was occupied, and in 1685 the lords of trade and plantations decided in Penn's favor. The conflicting claims, however, were subsequently adjusted by compromise. The tracts now constituting the state Penn called the “territories or three lower counties on the Delaware.” For 20 years they were governed as a part of Pennsylvania, each county sending six delegates to the general assembly. In 1703 the territories obtained liberty to secede, and were ever afterward allowed a distinct assembly. But the proprietary retained all his rights until the commencement of the revolution, and the same governor uniformly presided over Pennsylvania and Delaware. Sheltered by the surrounding colonies, Delaware enjoyed entire exemption from wars, except those in which as a part of the British empire she was obliged to participate. In the war with France which terminated in 1763, she was second to none in active zeal; and in the revolutionary war the Delaware regiment was one of the most efficient of the continental army. In 1776 the inhabitants declared themselves an independent state, and framed a constitution. In 1792 a second constitution was established, which, as amended in 1831, still forms the fundamental law of the state. Delaware was the first state to ratify the federal constitution, its approval being given Dec. 7, 1787. Though a slave state, it refused to secede at the outbreak of the civil war, and during its continuance furnished several regiments to the Union armies.