Statehood

December 7, 1787

State Motto

Liberty and Independence

State Nickname

"The First State"

Delaware is known by this nickname due to the fact that on December 7, 1787, it became the first of the 13 original states to ratify the U.S. Constitution. “The First State” became the official State nickname on May 23, 2002 following a request by Mrs. Anabelle O'Malley's First Grade Class at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School.

Delaware Code Title 29 § 318

Other Nicknames:

"The Diamond State":
Thomas Jefferson gave this nickname to Delaware, according to legend, because he described Delaware as a "jewel" among states due to its strategic location on the Eastern Seaboard.

"Blue Hen State":
This nickname was given to Delaware after the fighting Blue Hen Cocks that were carried with the Delaware Revolutionary War Soldiers for entertainment during Cockfights.

"Small Wonder":
This nickname was given to Delaware due to its size and the contributions it has made to our country as a whole and the beauty of Delaware.

State Capital

The town of New Castle, a port on the Delaware River, became the colonial capital of the "Three Lower Counties" (Delaware) in 1704. Under Pennsylvania's Deputy Governor John Evans, the assemblies of the colonies of Pennsylvania and Delaware separated though legislation enacted in both assemblies still required the Pennsylvania governor's signature. In November of 1704, four representatives from each county - New Castle, Kent, and Sussex met in the town and passed the colony's first two laws. One confirmed all laws previously enacted by the joint assembly of the colonies of Pennsylvania and Delaware. The second law changed the number of representatives from each county from four to six.
William Rodeney (as he spelled his name) of Kent County, grandfather of Caesar Rodney, served as the first-known speaker of the assembly. His grandson, Caesar, presided over the last colonial assembly in Delaware. The "Three Lower Counties" remained a part of Pennsylvania until 1776 when economic, cultural, and political differences fostered a permanent separation. The capital was moved from New Castle to Dover in 1777.

State Government

Delaware became a state in 1776, just two months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The capital was moved from New Castle to Dover in 1777. Delaware's first constitution was adopted in 1792. The current constitution was adopted in 1897. It has been modernized with many new amendments since that time. Today, Delaware has a cabinet form of government.
The General Assembly , Delaware's lawmaking body, is comprised of a State House of Representatives, whose 41 members are elected for two-year terms, and a State Senate, whose 21 members are elected for four-year terms. Half of the Senate seats are contested in each general election.
The State Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and four associate justices. All members are appointed by the governor, with confirmation by the Senate, for a term of 12 years.

State Flag

Delaware State Flag
Click to enlarge

Adopted on July 24, 1913, the state flag has a background of colonial blue surrounding a diamond of buff color in which the coat of arms of the state of Delaware is placed. Below the diamond are the words "December 7, 1787," indicating the day on which Delaware was the first state to ratify the federal Constitution. Because of this action, Delaware became the first state in the Union, and is, therefore, accorded the first position in such national events as presidential inaugurations. According to members of the original commission established to design the flag, the shades of buff and colonial blue represent those of the uniform of General George Washington as shown on a specific plate from an official U.S. Army publication.

Delaware Code Title 29 § 306

To be used only with permission. Delaware Code Title 29 §2306

State Colors

State Color - Colonial Blue State Color - Buff

The official Delaware colors - Colonial Blue and Buff - are the fabric colors of the state flag as approved by the State Legislature and entered into Delaware State Code. These colors translate into the following specifications for various print- and web-based colors:

Colonial Blue
Pantone: DS 238-6 U
CMYK: 0, 25, 60, 15
RGB: 118, 161, 160
RGB Hex: #71A1A0

Buff
Pantone: DS 24-4 U
CMYK: 0, 25, 60, 15
RGB: 215, 172, 108
RGB Hex: #D7AC6C

State Seal

Delaware's Great Seal
Click to enlarge

The state seal was first adopted on January 17, 1777, and contains the coat of arms. It also bears the inscription around it "Great Seal of the State of Delaware" and the dates 1704, 1776 and 1787. Descriptions of the contents of the seal are as follows:

The Wheat Sheaf -- was adapted from the Sussex County seal and signifies the agricultural vitality of Delaware.

The Ship -- is a symbol of New Castle County's ship building industry and Delaware's extensive coastal commerce.

The Corn -- is taken from the Kent County seal and also symbolizes the agricultural basis of Delaware's economy.

The Farmer -- with the hoe represents the central role of farming to the state.

The Militiaman -- with his musket recognizes the crucial role of the citizen-soldier to the maintenance of American liberties.

The Ox -- represents the importance of animal husbandry to the state economy.

The Water -- (above the Ox) stands for the Delaware River, the main stay of the state's commerce and transportation.

The Motto -- was derived from the Order of Cincinnati, and approved in 1847.

The Dates -- 1704, the year that Delaware established its General Assembly; 1776, the year that our independence from Great Britain was declared; and 1787, the year that Delaware became "the First State" by being the first colony to ratify the United States Constitution.

Delaware Code Title 29 § 301

To be used only with permission. Delaware Code Title 29 §2306

State Song: "Our Delaware"

The official state song consist of a poem "Our Delaware" containing three verses in honor of each county of the State, written by George B. Hynson; a fourth verse in praise of the State and pledging the loyalties of its citizens, written by Donn Devine; and a musical score composed specifically for the state song by Will M. S. Brown".
To view the text of the state song click on the following:

"Words to the Delaware State Song"