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Development of new transportation


Fenwick island Delaware
Fenwick island Delaware

In the early 19th century, trade was encouraged by the development of new transportation links. Toll roads, or turnpikes, were built to connect farming areas to the commercial town of Wilmington. Steamboats began to replace sailing ships on the Delaware River in the 1810s, and the completion in 1829 of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, between Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay, gave an additional stimulus to shipping. Delaware’s first steam-driven railroad went into operation in 1832. The Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad, which was completed in 1838, gave the state its first through rail service. Except for a brief period before and during the War of 1812, when British ships threatened the Delaware shore, oceangoing vessels plied regularly between port towns along the Delaware River, principally Wilmington and New Castle, and the ports of other coastal states, as well as ports in Europe and the West Indies.

Political Development


A second constitution, adopted in 1792, established Delaware’s basic framework of government. It provided for a governor to be elected by popular vote, although for many years voting was restricted to men who were free, white, and had paid their taxes.

Representation in the state legislature was apportioned equally among the three counties. However, New Castle County grew far more rapidly than the two southern counties. By the middle of the 19th century about 45 percent of the state’s total population of more than 91,000 lived in New Castle County, with one-third of those concentrated in the Wilmington area.

A new state constitution was adopted in 1831, but the changes it made affected principally the judiciary and not the legislature. Despite the shift in the balance of population, the new document made no change in the representation formula. The southern counties dominated both houses of the legislature. In the years between the revolution and the War of 1812 the dominant political party in Delaware was the Federalist Party, which was pro-British and supported a highly centralized form of national government.

Even after the War of 1812, in which the British invaded the United States, the party kept its strength in Delaware although it was defeated in almost every other state. Indeed, Delaware was the last Federalist state. In the 1820s most Delaware voters turned to the new National Republican Party, which adopted many Federalist policies, including a protective tariff and support of a strong national government. In the 1830s and 1840s most Delawareans backed the Whig Party, which evolved from the National Republicans. However, when the Whig Party was split by reform issues such as abolition and prohibition, the majority of Delaware voters, along with most Southern Whigs, switched their support to the Democratic Party. "Delaware" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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