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What Is the History of the State Flag of Delaware?

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  • Written By: Pablo Garcia
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2016
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Delaware is an Eastern state of the US located on the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the original 13 American states. The state flag of Delaware is patterned after its state seal, which was adopted by the legislature on 17 January 1777. The seal is known as "the Great Seal of the State of Delaware" and contains many symbols representative of the state’s contributions to the formation of the US.

Inscribed on the seal are three important dates in Delaware’s history: 1704, 1776, and 1787. In 1704, the Delaware General Assembly was established. 1776 marks the date that Delaware declared its independence from Great Britain. In 1778, Delaware became the first state to ratify America’s new Constitution. Because of this historic action, Delaware is always first in position of national events such as presidential inaugurations.

Delaware is a small state with only three counties. As with the state seal, the state flag of Delaware recognizes the importance of each county to the state. In the center of the seal are a farmer and a militiaman. The farmer holds a hoe and stands for the importance of farming in Delaware. The militiaman standing with his rifle signifies the citizen soldiers’ defense of American liberties.

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A sailing vessel symbolizes New Castle County’s famed ship building yards and Delaware’s importance to coastal commerce. A sheaf of wheat, borrowed from the Essex County Seal, recognizes that county’s contribution to the agricultural strength of the state. Corn, taken from the Kent County Seal, represents the importance of that crop to the state’s economy.

Two other symbols of the seal, an ox and water, which are also incorporated in the state flag of Delaware, appear above the state motto “Liberty and Independence.” The ox signifies the importance of animal husbandry to Delaware. The flowing water is a symbol for the Delaware River, which is vital to commerce and transportation.

Adopted on 24 July 1913, the state flag of Delaware placed the state seal into a buff colored diamond on a field of colonial blue. The diamond shape was chosen based on Thomas Jefferson’s description of Delaware as the “jewel” among the 13 states, because of its strategic location on the Atlantic for commerce and defense. One of Delaware’s nicknames is “The Diamond State.” Jefferson later became America’s third president.

Delaware is also sometimes called the “Blue Hen State.” This name derives from observations that the state’s revolutionary soldiers kept fighting Blue Hen Cocks with them in camp for entertainment. The state is also called the “Small Wonder” because of its small size but large contribution to the founding of the country. It is also a reference to Delaware’s natural beauty.

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