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Delaware celebrates 225th anniversary of becoming the First State

225 years ago Friday 30 delegates from across Delaware came together at the Golden Fleece Tavern in Dover to ratify one of mankind’s most significant documents.

Highlights of Delaware Day commemoration a the State Public Archives.

Highlights of Delaware Day commemoration a the State Public Archives



In honor of Delaware becoming the first state to adopt the U.S. Constitution, Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock read a gubernatorial Delaware Day proclamation at the Public Archives in the state capital Friday afternoon.

“Let us today celebrate the patriots who first came together with sometime divergent minds, but singular hearts to make for a better land and the writing of a Constitution that is a shining light to all democracies,” said Bullock.

Though the Golden Fleece Tavern was torn down in 1830, State Archivist Steven Marz says the document signed by Delaware’s 30 delegates was saved.

“We retained the original document here and that is in the archives. In fact, on December 7, it’s in our charter room, in our big vault. If anyone would like to come and see it, it is available and open to the public,” said Marz.

Marz says Friday is the only day the document is available for public viewing.

And Marz suggests Delaware’s ratification of that document still speaks to us today. Just as Democratic and Republican lawmakers currently debate federal taxes and entitlement spending in Washington D.C., Marz says becoming the first state to adopt the Constitution was not without fierce debate between Tories and Whigs, the state’s two main political parties, especially in Sussex County.

“It’s almost the same as what we go through now. We talk about the fiscal cliff and arguments back and forth from different parties, but eventually something will come together for the overall good of the nation and that’s what happened in this particular case as well,” said Marz.

Friday’s ceremony will also include the enactment of Senate Joint Resolution 9 which honors Delaware Revolutionary War hero John Patten.

There are other events marking Delaware Day throughout the state Friday.

In Wilmington Friday evening, the Delaware Historical Society is hosting a toast to the First State at the Old Town Hall.

And on The Green in Dover Friday night the First State Heritage Park is revisiting the momentous event with a historical candlelight performance.

The Park’s Interpretive program coordinator Sarah Zimmerman says the enactment illustrates Delawareans’ concerns of the time.

“We travel to the Golden Fleece Tavern where it all happened. We meet Elizabeth Battell, the hotel tavern keeper and then we also meet the different delegates. We even get to hear from some servants and even some slaves and all their different perspectives of what went into the Constitution,” said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman adds the performances Friday and Saturday nights will begin at the John Bell House on The Green.