***If someone tells you Happy Separation Day on Monday, will you know why? June 15, 1776, is one of the most important dates in Delaware history. Perhaps it is because it lacks the drama of Caesar Rodney’s 70-mile ride through thunderstorms and mud to Philadelphia to cast the deciding vote for independence on July 4. And, it lacks the grander significance of Dec. 7, 1787, the date that Delaware became the “First State” with ratification of the Constitution. Separation Day, for a brief bit of history, relates to the “Lower Counties” — what has always been New Castle, Kent and Sussex — breaking away from the royal charter of Pennsylvania and the British crown. Charged up by advice from the Second Continental Congress, Thomas McKean rallied the Assembly of the Three Lower Counties to create its own government to protect itself from the British. The decision was made in the New Castle Court House. (This weekend, the town of New Castle held its annual Separation Day celebration.) The resolution read: “Whereas it is become absolutely necessary for the safety, protection, and happiness of the good people of this colony, forthwith to establish some authority adequately to the exigency of their affairs, until a new government can be formed; and Whereas the representatives of the people, in this assembly met, alone can and ought at this time, to establish such temporary. Resolved unanimously, that all persons holding any office, civil or military, in this colony, on the 13 day of June instant, may and shall continue to execute the same, in the name of the government of the Counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex Upon Delaware, as they used legally to exercise it in the name of the King, until a new government shall be formed, agreeable to the resolution of Congress of 15 May last.” The assembly put together Delaware’s first constitution in September 1776. In it, the body decided that “The Delaware State” become its new name and the “General Assembly of Delaware” would meet “once or oftener every year.” New Castle remained the capital of Delaware until May 1777 when the body moved to Dover. Hard feelings between Delawareans and Pennsylvanians and the Brits, of course, no longer exist. Sir Paul McCartney, of British royalty, will be here on Friday for the Firefly Music Festival. And, no doubt, you’ll see many Pennsylvania tags in the upcoming beach and concert traffic jams.
***The final weeks of June should be interesting in Dover, whether you’re a political junkie or a big music fan. Delaware’s General Assembly is awaiting news from the Delaware Economic Forecast Advisory Committee about projections for revenue in the upcoming fiscal year. On Monday, DEFAC will release its last forecast as final budget mark-ups begin. The most recent numbers suggest a $61.9 million deficit. Lawmakers have yet to act on the casinos’ pleas for relief on the gaming tax, and the Republicans and Democrats have yet to compromise on motor vehicle fee increases to boost the ailing Transportation Trust Fund.
***Here’s a weird bit of Delaware trivia that is still up for debate. By some accounts, the first American flag to be flown in battle was in Delaware. Historians apparently cannot prove or disprove the legend that it was flown at the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge in 1777. The legend perhaps started in 1901 when a battlefield monument stated this. Edward W. Cooch, in 1940, noted the claim in “The Battle of Cooch’s Bridge.” Mr. Cooch wrote, “That circumstantial evidence indicated that the first use of the Stars and Stripes was at Cooch’s Bridge. Although this has never definitely been proved, it has likewise never been disproved.”
***The all-volunteer Fourth of July Celebration Committee has plans in motion for Dover’s big Independence Day celebration. Once again, the city will have its annual parade and fireworks at Legislative Mall. The Delaware State News is one of its many sponsors, as are many local residents. There is still time to purchase your own firework for $17.76. Visit www.dover4thofjuly.com for more information.