Delaware remembers day it became the ‘first state’

DOVER — Since 1933, the governors of Delaware have proclaimed Dec. 7 as “Delaware Day” in honor of that day in 1787 when Delaware became the first state to ratify the Federal Constitution, thus making Delaware the first state in the new nation.

First State Heritage Park will be hosting a candlelit historical theater event to mark the 230th anniversary of the state’s ratification. The ratification, which took place in Elizabeth Battell’s tavern on The Green in Dover, may have been unanimous but it was not without controversy and concern, noted the park agency.

Signs for the Golden Fleece mark the spot where Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution on Dec. 7, 1787.
(Delaware State News/Andrew West)

The First State Heritage Park plans to revisit this momentous event today Friday and Saturday, during a celebration they’re calling “Fully, Freely, and Entirely” – Becoming the First State on The Green in Dover.

Officials said attendees should arrive around 5:30 p.m. John Bell House on 43 The Green in Dover to observe the “candlelit historic atmosphere.” Visitors will be able to interact with reenactors portraying delegates, protesters, tavern keepers and slaves from 1787 and listen in on their conversations about the coming ratification. The event lasts until 7:30 p.m. each night and there is a $10 admission fee. Pre-registration is required and spaces are limited to 25 per performance. Call (302) 739-9194 for reservations.

A marker on South State Street, near where Batell’s Tavern hosted the convention of Delaware delegates in 1787, commemorates Delaware’s ratification of the federal constituion.

Also marking the occasion, the Delaware Public Archives will be hosting its annual Delaware Day Awards Ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The event honors participants in the Delaware Department of State’s 16th annual Delaware Day Fourth Grade Competition which challenges students to create displays that help illustrate and explain the U.S. Constitution and the role played by Delawareans in the writing and ratification of the founding document. It will be held at the archive on 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Dover. For more information, call (302) 744-5000.

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