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Lewes, Delaware
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October 10, 1997     Cape Gazette
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October 10, 1997

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The Pilottown Road monument marks Delaware history's most "That Delaware exists as a sep- arate Commonwealth is due to this colony." Delaware erected a massive granite monument in 1909 on Pi- lottown Road in Lewes to com- memorate the site of the 1631 Dutch colony known as Zwaanen- dael. The lofty words of American historian George Bancroft - quot- ed above and etched into the face of the monument, capture the im- portance of the site to Delaware history. The words sum up a 120-year struggle between the Penns and the Calverts for control of much of the Delmarva Peninsula. The Penns staked the validity of their claim, and won, on the fact that the Dutch had settled a colony, in 1631, in the area that William Penn called the lower three coun- ties of Pennsylvania, or Delaware. Had the Penns not prevailed in their arguments and opportunism, the three counties of Delaware would have become part of Mary- land. King Charles the First, in 1632, granted all the land in the new world between the 38th and 40th parallels to George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, to become the colony of Maryland. (The 40th parallel defines the southern boundary of Pennsylvania, while the 38th parallel defines the northern boundary of Virginia on The monument. the lower peninsula.) In accepting the grant from the king, Lord Baltimore swore that the lands were uninhabited by any but non-Christian savages. Ac- cording to Dick Carter's "History of Sussex County" written in the mid-1970s, the Zwaanendael colony of 1631 threw a fly into Lord Baltimore's ointment. The Calvert family, headed by a succession of Lords Baltimor,was well on its way to developing Maryland and selling scores of farms to Englishmen in Somerset County - much of which is today Sussex County. Because important chapter BAREF00TIN' Dennis Forney the Penns were also granting lands in the area, the Calverts petitioned in 1685 for all the land that the Penns were claiming as their low- er three counties. "Penn," wrote Carter in his his- tory, "raised several arguments against Baltimore's petition, one of which, as it happened, was a masterful ploy. He merely point- ed out that in originally petition- ing for the land making up the Maryland colony, the first Lord Baltimore had sworn that all the land was inhabited only by sav- ages....The king's council found Penn's argument compelling enough that they decreed the two proprietors should split the area down the middle from a line drawn west from Cape Hen- lopen." Then, with the boundary dispute still fuming, came thegreat blun- der that resulted in Delaware hav- ing much of Sussex that should have been in Maryland. In 1732, the Calverts submitted a map to settle the boundaries in accord with what the throne had decreed. Their map, however, showed Cape Henlopen as being 20 miles south of where it actually is. The Penns quickly approved the south- ern border of the contested lands drawn in actuality westward from Fenwick Island. (Fenwick was thought by early navigators to be the cape at the southern entrance to Delaware Bay.) Delaware's three counties had been governing themselves, with Penn's agreement, since 1702. The lines drawn starting in 1750, settling the Calvert and Penn dis- pute, secured the state's indepen- dent future. This photograph, from Helene Potter's collection in Lewes, shows a gathering of the ladies of the Zwaanendael Club with the Rev. Charles H.B. Turner of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in about 1908. Turner holds the Dutch flag on the eventual site of the monument marking the 1631 Dutch settlement. The man at the left may be Capt. Harry Lyons, who donated the land for the mounment. ..... .--.. .... : ......... . ..... _ .... 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