The Duke Of York Awards William Penn A Deed To The "Three Lower Counties"

On August 24, 1682, the Duke of York awarded Englishman William Penn a deed to the "Three Lower Counties" that make up the present state of Delaware, recently transferred from Dutch to British jurisdiction.

Penn acquired this tract of land just west of the Delaware Bay in order to ensure ocean access for his new colony of Pennsylvania. While Delaware established its own assembly in 1704, it was not until shortly after July 1776 that Delaware became a separate state. On December 7, 1787, Delaware was the "first state" to ratify the new U.S. Constitution, thereby earning its current proud nickname.

The boundary separating Delaware from Pennsylvania and a portion of Maryland is an unusual one, featuring the arc of a circle defined by a twelve-mile radius centered on the courthouse at New Castle. An ongoing dispute between Penn and Maryland's Lord Baltimore about the extent of each's territory had led to this unique resolution. The same dispute spurred the creation of the famous Mason-Dixon Line in 1763, when British surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were selected to establish a definitive Maryland-Pennsylvania border—a task that took five years to complete. This line, moving west, came to symbolize the divisions of North from South in the years before the American Civil War.

William Penn (October 14, 1644 – July 30, 1718) was an English founder and "Absolute Proprietor" of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future U.S. State of Pennsylvania. He was known as an early champion of democracy and religious freedom and famous for his good relations and his treaties with the Lenape Indians. Under his direction, Philadelphia was planned and developed.

As one of the earlier supporters of colonial unification, Penn wrote and urged for a Union of all the English colonies in what was to become the United States of America. The democratic principles that he set forth in the Pennsylvania Frame(s) of Government served as an inspiration for the United States Constitution. As a pacifist Quaker, Penn considered the problems of war and peace deeply, and included a plan for a United States of Europe, "European Dyet, Parliament or Estates," in his voluminous writings.