Most people know that Delaware is the First State. But how it became a state at all, rather than a part of Maryland or Pennsylvania, is another story. The Lewes Historical Society will feature a presentation by someone who knows all about it Friday, April 19, when Supreme Court Justice Randy Holland tells the story based on his recently published book, “Delaware’s Destiny Determined by Lewes.” The program begins at 7:30 p.m. at Lewes Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, Kings Highway, Lewes.
Holland, recognized as one of Delaware’s preeminent legal historians, tells his story with verve and style, and careful legal and historical scholarship. It is illustrated with many portraits of the principal characters and contemporary maps showing the points at issue in the long, drawn-out legal battle.
The book tells how William Penn used the existence of the ill-fated and short-lived 1631 Dutch settlement at Swanendael, the present location of Lewes, to win his case.
Holland said, “It’s a well-known historical fact that Delaware was the first state to ratify the new U.S. Constitution in 1787; however, less well-known is the fact that its very existence as an independent state and its present shape and size were the result of an epic legal battle in the English courts between William Penn, proprietor of Pennsylvania, and Lord Baltimore, proprietor of Maryland.” He explains, “Although Penn did not know it, his court victory led directly to the later establishment of an independent Delaware.”
Holland was first appointed to the Delaware Supreme Court in 1986 and was recently reappointed to a third 12-year term. He is the past national president of the American Inns of Court. He has written, coauthored or edited seven books including “The Delaware Constitution: A Reference Guide” and “Delaware Supreme Court: Golden Anniversary.” He coedited another historical book titled “The Delaware Constitution of 1897 - The First One Hundred Years.”
“Delaware’s Destiny Determined by Lewes” is being introduced in Delaware at this Lewes Historical Society program, and Michael DiPaolo, executive director of Lewes Historical Society, said “A copy of the book will be presented to each guest at no cost, in recognition of the launching of this first-time historic account, compliments of the author and the Delaware Heritage Commission.”
Following the presentation, Holland will sign copies of the book. Light refreshments will be served after the talk and the public is welcome.