Portal:Delaware Article

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Delaware ( /ˈdɛləwɛər/ ( About this sound  listen)) is one of the 50 states of the United States, in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeastern region. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, to the north by Pennsylvania, and to the east by New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean. The state takes its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, an English nobleman and Virginia's first colonial governor.

Delaware occupies the northeastern portion of the Delmarva Peninsula. It is the second smallest and sixth least populous state, but the sixth most densely populated. Delaware is divided into three counties, the lowest number of any state. From north to south, they are New Castle County, Kent County, and Sussex County. While the southern two counties have historically been predominantly agricultural, New Castle County is more industrialized.

Before its coastline was explored by Europeans in the 16th century, Delaware was inhabited by several groups of Native Americans, including the Lenape in the north and Nanticoke in the south. It was initially colonized by Dutch traders at Zwaanendael, near the present town of Lewes, in 1631. Delaware was one of the 13 colonies participating in the American Revolution. On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, and has since been known as "The First State".

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Satellite image of Hurricane Isabel

The effects of Hurricane Isabel in Delaware resulted in one of only twelve presidential disaster declarations for the state of Delaware. Hurricane Isabel formed from a tropical wave on September 6, 2003 in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. It moved northwestward, and within an environment of light wind shear and warm waters it steadily strengthened to reach peak winds of 165 mph (265 km/h) on September 11. After fluctuating in intensity for four days, Isabel gradually weakened and made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with winds of 105 mph (165 km/h) on September 18. It quickly weakened over land and became extratropical over Pennsylvania the next day. The storm's center remained to the south and west of Delaware, and was about 175 miles (280 km) from Delaware at its closest approach. At that time, Isabel was a strong tropical storm located in central Virginia.

The effects of the hurricane were compounded by flooding caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Henri days before. Moderate winds of up to 62 mph (100 km/h) downed numerous trees, tree limbs, and power lines across the state, leaving at least 15,300 without power. Numerous low-lying areas were flooded due to high surf, strong storm surge, or run-off from flooding further inland. The passage of Hurricane Isabel resulted in $40 million in damage (2003 USD, $44 million 2006 USD) and no casualties in the state.

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Did you know?

  • ...that American Indian poet and Delaware-native James Dillet Freeman is referred to as the "poet laureate to the moon"? His 1941 "Prayer for Protection" was taken aboard Apollo 11 in July 1969 by Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin, and a microfilm of his 1947 "I Am There" was left on the moon by James B. Irwin on Apollo 15.
  • ...that according to a survey by the National Science Foundation, Delaware has more doctoral-level (Ph.D.) scientists and engineers, as a percentage of the population, than any other state? Delaware also has a higher rate of patent awards, per person, than any other state.


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Portrait from J. Thomas Scharf's History of Delaware

Caesar Rodney (October 7, 1728 – June 26, 1784), was an American lawyer and politician from St. Jones Neck, in Dover Hundred, Kent County, Delaware, east of Dover. He was an officer of the Delaware militia during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a Continental Congressman from Delaware, and President of Delaware during most of the American Revolution.

Rodney was born October 7, 1728 at Byfield, his family's farm on St. Jones Neck, in Dover Hundred, Kent County, Delaware. Byfield is just north of John Dickinson's mansion, Poplar Hall. He was the son of Caesar and Mary Crawford Rodney, and grandson of William Rodney, who came to America in the 1680s and had been Speaker of the Colonial Assembly of the Lower Counties in 1704. Among the Rodney family ancestors were the prominent Adelmare family in Treviso, Italy. His mother was the daughter of the Rev. Thomas Crawford, the Anglican rector of Christ Church at Dover. Byfield was an 800 acre (3.2 km²) farm, worked by a small number of slaves. With the addition of other adjacent properties, the Rodney's were, by the standards of the day, wealthy members of the local gentry. Sufficient income was earned from the sale of wheat and barley to the Philadelphia and West Indies market to provide enough cash and leisure to allow members of the family to participate in the social and political life of Kent County.

Caesar Rodney was first educated at home, but later attended the Latin School in Philadelphia. Rodney's father died in 1745, when he was 17 years old, and the younger Rodney was placed under the guardianship of Nicholas Ridgely, Clerk of the Peace in Kent County. As the eldest son, he ran the family farm for 10 years before entering politics. His mother remarried and had two additional children, but she died in 1763. Subsequently, Caesar was the primary provider for his younger brothers and sisters, and was especially close to his brother, Thomas Rodney, and half sister, Sally Wilson, who kept house for him. He never married. According to tradition, he courted Mary (Polly) Vining, aunt of later U.S. Senator John M. Vining. However, she married the Rev. Charles Inglis, the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Dover, where the family attended church.

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