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Delaware in the 2000s


Brandywine region Delaware
Brandywine region Delaware

Race relations have been a great concern in Delaware. The state’s public schools were segregated by race under the constitution of 1897 and remained so until after the Supreme Court of the United States struck down racial segregation in its 1954 decision, Brown v. Board of Education (see Segregation in the United States). Two of the cases that were merged in that historic decision, Bulah v. Gebhart and Belton v. Gebhart, involved Delaware plaintiffs. Integration proceeded smoothly in most parts of the state except Milford, where diehard segregationists succeeded in having the public schools shut down for a year. De facto segregation—racial imbalance of schools caused by residence patterns—continued to be a problem into the 1970s and beyond. In 1978 a federal court decree affecting Wilmington and its surrounding suburbs (Evans v. Buchanan) mandated the busing of children to achieve racial balance in the schools. In 1995 a federal judge ended mandatory busing when it was found that the goals of integration had been achieved.

Segregated housing was also practiced throughout the state until the federal government passed legislation to end it in 1968. In that year Wilmington, like many other American cities, experienced rioting following the assassination of the Martin Luther King, Jr. The governor, Charles L. Terry, Jr., called out the National Guard to keep order and, over the protests of the city’s mayor, kept it on patrol until his successor took office in January 1969.

Political and Economic Developments


Republican Governor Russell W. Peterson, Jr. (1969-1973), reorganized the executive branch of state government during his term.

Its former collection of nearly 100 semi-independent commissions was replaced by ten executive departments, each directed by a cabinet secretary appointed by the governor with legislative consent. Also in that year, the governor persuaded the legislature to adopt a Coastal Zone Act designed to prevent the environmental degradation of Delaware’s extensive bay, river, and ocean coastline by new industry or refineries. In the 1970s northern Delaware’s previously strong economic development slowed. The cost of maintaining the state’s education, transportation, and welfare programs threatened to overwhelm the tax base and to drive some industries from the state.

In response to this challenge, Governor Pierre S. du Pont IV reduced state spending and encouraged the legislature to adopt the Financial Center Development Act of 1981. By relaxing regulations on interest rates that banks may charge their customers, the act attracted more than a dozen out-of-state banks to locate their credit card operations in the First State. The banks’ large new buildings now dominate Wilmington, where they employ thousands of workers.

In the mid-1980s Delaware’s personal income tax rates were reduced four times in four years. Yet government revenues and employment continued to grow and construction boomed as more businesses and credit-card operations flocked to the state. The banks maintained high employment in the state in spite of downsizing (shrinking of the workforce), which by the early 1990s had become commonplace among the state’s mature chemical corporations. Another source of economic health in Delaware is its legal profession. Delaware is the corporate home of hundreds of major and minor corporations that take advantage of Delaware’s unrestrictive incorporation law and its state and federal courts, which are highly experienced in corporate law. In 1988, when many American businesses faced hostile corporate takeovers, the legislature enacted a law that made Delaware even more attractive. The law made it difficult to accomplish such a takeover of a Delaware corporation, because the would-be acquirer must capture 85 percent of the corporation’s stock in a single transaction or wait three years before proceeding. Delaware achieved a healthy economy in the 1990s. Democratic governor Thomas Carper, who served from 1993 to 2001, took an active approach to creating and preserving jobs. He was succeeded by Democrat Ruth Ann Minner, who became Delaware’s first female governor. In the 2008 election Jack Markell, a Democrat, became Delaware’s first Jewish governor. "Delaware" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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