First State National Historical Park

Most states have at least one National Park site.  Until 2013, poor little Delaware did not.  So, in 2013 President Obama and Congress designated First State National Historical Park in Delaware.

First State National Historical Park celebrates Delaware’s status as the first state to ratify the Constitution.  The nine sites, scattered all over the state, celebrate Delaware’s colonial roots and its importance in the creation of a new nation.

Tom and I wanted to get the stamp for First State but we didn’t want to travel any further into Delaware than we had to, so we stopped at the closest site to the Pennsylvania border:  Brandywine Creek State Park.  We drove into the park and headed to the Visitors Center.  When I asked the woman for the stamp, she knew what drawer to pull it out of and gave me a brochure.  But she also had to change the date.  No one had asked for the stamp in the previous month!  I asked her why Brandywine Creek State Park was part of First State and she said she had no idea.

New Castle Courthouse

The other sites of the First State National Historical Park have definite historical ties to the founding of Delaware.  The New Castle Court House, which dates back to 1730, is one of the oldest courthouses in the country.  The cupola of the Court House is the center of a 12 mile circle that forms the border between Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland; the most famous attempt to survey these borders, incorporating the circle, was the Mason-Dixon line.  Something I learned was that Delaware was a slave state.  It did not, however, withdraw from the Union during the Civil War.  So the slaves in Delaware were not freed by the Emancipation Proclamation.

Delaware was originally part of Virginia, and named after Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, who received the original land grant.  After disputes with Virginia, the three counties of Delaware were passed to New York, and then Pennsylvania.  Because they were south of the Mason-Dixon line, the three counties broke off from Pennsylvania to form their own colony of Delaware.

Old Swede’s Church

Swedish immigrants were original colonists in Delaware.  Two of the sites in First State National Historical Park celebrate their influence:  Fort Christina and Old Swede’s Church.  They would be interesting to visit at another time.

We were successful in getting the stamp but feel like there are many other things to explore in First State National Historical Site.  It is always interesting to learn a new history and find out surprising things about the states around us.