What is the Capital of Delaware?

Pink light lights the capital dome tower on top of the Delaware state capital building at night
Pink light lights the capital dome tower on top of the Delaware state capital building at night

Delaware is a state situated in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Pennsylvania to the north and Maryland to the south and west. Delaware is known for its beautiful beaches, such as Bethany, Rehoboth, and Dewey, as well as its historical landmarks and for being a tax-free state. But what is the capital of Delaware?

The capital of Delaware is Dover, a city situated in the middle of the state, lying on the Jones River. Dover was founded in 1683 and first served as the seat of the state government in 1777 before being officially announced as the capital of Delaware in 1781. 

This article will discuss what the capital of Delaware is. So keep reading! We have everything you need to know about Dover, the capital of Delaware.

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Where is the Capital of Delaware Located?

Where is the Capital of Delaware Located
Where is the Capital of Delaware Located

The capital of the state of Delaware is Dover, a city that is located on the Delaware River coastal plains in the central part of the state, midway between Rehoboth Beach and Wilmington. Delaware is also the seat of Kent county.

Dover is the second largest city in the state of Delaware and is known for being the home of Caesar Rodney, a leader of Delaware during the American Revolution. A bit of mystery surrounds his burial as the exact location was never revealed. 

The area also contains a fair amount of historical sites and cultural landmarks, such as The Governor’s House, built in 1798, and the John Dickinson Plantation, which ran during the 18th century.

A Brief History Of Dover

Delaware Legislative Hall
Delaware Legislative Hall

The earliest inhabitants of the Dover area with whom we can ascribe a name were Native American tribes known as the Lenape people, which translates to ‘the people. These tribes lived all along the Delaware River, including the area around modern-day Dover.

The Native American Lenape thrived in this area, hunting, fishing, and gathering food for their communities, and they lived a modest but civilized life before the arrival of Europeans. The Lenape were the first Native Americans to make contact with Early Europeans such as the English, Dutch and Swedish in the early 17th century. 

The Lenape of Dover and the wider Delaware region were known as one of the most peaceful tribes. They often were ascribed the name grandfather due to their ability to work as peacemakers when other tribes were feuding. However, they were fierce warriors when they had to be, yet they preferred peaceful alternatives when trying to solve disputes.

Early Europeans acquired land treaties and sales through slightly devious methods, as the Native Americans of the area did not believe the land could be sold as, to them, it all belonged to the creator. Thus, they shared their land with the poor people who arrived on their continent from ships without knowing the gifts they received were actually barter in exchange for land. 

William Penn officially founded Dover in 1683 as a court town when Kent County was established. By 1717, the Delaware General Assembly’s special commission had laid out a plan for the city, and it started to grow into a thriving settlement. 

The area’s early economy was centered on slave-run plantations that produced Tobacco, and later corn and wheat thrived. There was a time when the ten square miles around Dover held the largest concentration of plantations in the colony. Many of the area’s first settlers did not arrive from mainland Europe; instead, they traveled from places such as Pennsylvania.

When did Dover Become the Capital of Delaware?

Dover hasn’t always been the capital of Delaware; much like the rest of the states in the U.S, Delaware had to go through multiple options before they found which one worked best. The first colonial capital of the Delaware territory was New Castle, a settlement that had flown flags of the Netherlands, Sweden, and Great Britain.

Delaware’s capital was moved from New Castle to Dover in 1777. Yet, it was temporarily moved from Dover to Wilmington, then back to New Castle, and then to Lewis twice before Dover was officially announced as the permanent capital in October 1781.

Why is Dover the Capital of Delaware?

The capital of Delaware changed places more than a few times, yet in 1777 it was decided that Dover was the best option as it was a central location that lay on the Delaware river.

It was also chosen as the capital as, unlike the former capital, New Castle, it was a defensive position that could keep the people of the territory safe from constant British raids. 

Best Places to visit in Dover

If you plan a short trip to Delaware and spend a few days or more in Dover, here are the five best places to visit. 

1. Dover Motor Speedway

If you’re looking for an exhilarating day out in Dover,  the Dover Motor Speedway is a great option. This racetrack has been operating for over 50 years, providing the area of Dover with entertainment and Nascar races. This is a great family day out and is not to be missed if you plan a trip to Dover.

2. Air Mobility Command Museum

The Air Mobility Command Museum showcases the interesting history of military aviation. It has a great collection of exhibitions and a large selection of aircraft and planes used throughout history. If you are interested in this kind of history, there is also an option to book a guide for your walk through the museum. 

3. First State Heritage Park

If you want to connect with a little bit of the city, then the First State Heritage Park is one of the best options. This urban park has many fun things to do and see; whether you want to learn about Colonial American history or simply walk around and admire the buildings, it’s a great day out. 

4. Dover Downs Casino

If it’s the nightlife you’re after, then the Dovers Down Casino is a great option and an excellent experience. This casino is your all-in-one entertainment center, with plenty of casino classics such as blackjack, over 2000 slot machines, and even horse racing. 

5. Pickering Beach

Pickering beach is a great place to go for a walk and enjoy the sunrise or sunset with your family. Come alone or with a friend and take in this beautiful part of the state. It’s seen as the hidden gem of Dover, which is soon realized when you set foot on the sandy beach. 

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!