Delaware: Joseph Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution, Vol. 1, Ch. 13

Founders Corner Library

Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, by Joseph Story, 1833

Volume 1, Chapter 13,  DELAWARE

§ 126. AFTER Penn had become proprietary of Pennsylvania, he purchased of the Duke of York, in 1682, all his right and interest in the territory, afterwards called the Three Lower Counties of Delaware, extending from the south boundary of the Province, and situated on the western side of the river and bay of Delaware to Cape Henlopen, beyond or south of Lewistown; and the three counties took the names of NewCastle, Kent, and Sussex.1 At this time they were inhabited principally by Dutch and Swedes; and seem to have constituted an appendage to the government of New York.2

§ 127. In the same year, with the consent of the people, an act of union with the province of Pennsylvania was passed, and an act of settlement of the frame of government in a general assembly, composed of deputies from the counties of Delaware and Pennsylvania.3 By this act the three counties were, under the name of the territories, annexed to the province; and were to be represented in the General Assembly, governed by the same laws, and to enjoy the same privileges as the inhabitants of Pennsylvania.4 Difficulties soon afterwards arose between the deputies of the Province and those of the Territories; and after various subordinate arrangements, a final separation took place between them, with the consent of the proprietary, in 1703. From that period down to the American Revolution, the territories were governed by a separate legislature of their own, pursuant to the liberty reserved to them by a clause in the original charter or frame of government.5


  1. 1 Proud. Penn. 201, 202; 1 Chalm. Annals, 643; 2 Doug. Summ. 297, etc.
  2. 1 Chalm. Annals, 631, 632, 633, 634, 643; I Holmes’s Annals, 295, 404; I Pitk. Hist. 21, 26, 27; 2 Doug Summ. 2.
  3. 1 Proud. Penn. 206; 1 Holmes’s Annals, 404; I Chalm. Annals, 645, 646.
  4. 1 Chalm. Annals, 646; 1 Dall. Penn. Laws, App. 24, 26; 2 Colden’s Five Nations, App.
  5. 1 Proud. Penn. 358, 454; 1 Holmes’s Annals, 404, note; 2 Doug. Summ. 297, 298.

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