On June 15, 1776, Delaware declared its independence from both Great Britain and the colony of Pennsylvania.
Delaware never existed as an independent colony under British rule. The colony of Pennsylvania was split into upper and lower sections with separate colonial assemblies under the authority of a single governor.
As the Second Continental Congress debated a unified Declaration of Independence for the colonies, the Assembly of the Lower Counties of Pennsylvania met in New Castle. Thomas McKean and Caesar Rodney had represented the Lower Counties during the Stamp Act Congress of 1765, along with the First and Second Continental Congresses. During this assembly, they proposed the Lower Counties of New Castle, Kent and Sussex simultaneously separate from Pennsylvania and the British crown. On June 15, the assembly unanimously voted to form “The Delaware State.”
From that date forward, Delaware existed as an independent state – or nation.
Rodney was also a key figure in Delaware signing onto the Declaration of Independence just a few weeks later. Rodney, McKean, along with George Read, served as Delaware’s delegates to the Second Continental Congress. When the time came, Read refused to vote for independence. McKean summoned Rodney, and despite being at home ill, Rodney made the arduous trip from Dover to Philadelphia overnight in order to cast the vote to break the tie. Thus, the newly formed independent state of Delaware joined the other colonies in declaring independence from Great Britain.
The fact that Delaware (along with Virginia) declared independence from Great Britain before the signing of the declaration of Independence undercuts the “America is ‘one nation’ narrative.”
Some historians argue that “one American people” declared independence and formed the United States. But in fact, the people of the states took those actions independently based on their sovereign authority. The people of the states voted on and declared independence from England as individual states, operating through a Continental Congress created by those states, with representatives chosen by those states.
Had Rodney not made that trip and Delaware not joined the other colonies in declaring independence, would it have been obligated to go to war with England? Clearly not.
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