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The capital of Delaware and the second biggest city in the state, Dover is the seat of the county of Kent, as well as being the main city of the Dover Metro (encompassing Philly, Wilmington, Camden and all of Kent County). Dover lies along the St. Jones River and was given its name by William Penn. According to 2010 estimates, the city has a population just over 36,000.
Flag of Dover, Delaware
William Penn, the owner of the land known as “Lower Counties on the Delaware”, founded Dover as Kent County’s town for judicial matters in 1683. In 1717, a special commission officially laid out the city. Due to its location in the center of Delaware and safety from attacks from the river, the capital of Delaware was moved here in 1777.
Due to an act that passed in October 1779, the assembly met wherever they pleased in Delaware and had successive meetings in from Wilmington all the way down to Lewes before finally settling permanently on October 1781 in the city of Dover.
“The Green”, the city’s central square, became the location for patriotic events, such as troop reviews and rallies. The central square is still the center of Dover’s historic district, as well as being the appointed place for the Kent County Courthouse and the Supreme Court of Delaware.
The city was home to Caesar Rodney, revolutionary hero of the state of Delaware during the war that earned America its independence. He was buried not far beyond the city limits, but the whereabouts of his burial site remain elusive. The Christ Episcopal Church, located close to “The Green”, bears a cenotaph erected in his honor within the confines of their cemetary.
Kent County and Dover didn’t see eye to eye when it came to slavery. The city was a known point along the Underground Railroad because of its relative location to Pennsylvania and New Jersey (free states) and slave-holding Maryland. The city also bore many Quaker families that supported the continued emancipation effort into the early 1800s. Even if there were a small number of slaves in the region, the detestable practice was still carried out by a small but powerful majority.
The state government is the largest employer for Dover and Delaware. Most of the state’s bureaucracy, if not all of it, is located in and near Dover. However, much like other states in the U.S., the capital of Delaware is not its largest city. As such, Wilmington, located in the northern part and the state’s largest city, is home to many state offices and employees commonly seen in the state capital, such as the headquarters of the Office of the Attorney General, this happens in particular because many large corporations in America keep nominal offices in the city so that they can register their Delaware corporation.