Burial ground identified at Dickinson Plantation in Dover

March 28, 2021

Archaeological research has led to the identification of a burial ground at the John Dickinson Plantation in Dover.

The burial ground found during archaeological fieldwork March 9 likely holds the remains of enslaved individuals and other African Americans who lived, worked and died on land owned by the Dickinson family.

“We remain committed to telling inclusive history. This includes restoring dignity to those who have been forgotten. This important discovery presents a powerful moment for every Delawarean,” said Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock.

For two years, the Department of State, Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs has undertaken archaeological investigations on the 450 acres of state property. The work has focused on identifying the burial ground for enslaved individuals that is referenced in primary source documents.

“This is sacred ground for Delaware, and we will continue to treat it with the honor and respect it deserves. Our path forward is to protect the site, engage with the community about how to proceed, and continue to learn more through research and dialogue,” said Tim Slavin, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs director.

The John Dickinson Plantation is the boyhood home of John Dickinson, a founding father of the United States, and a framer and signer of the U.S. Constitution.

Dickinson wrote eloquently about freedom and liberty while at the same time holding other human beings in bondage.

The property is a state museum operated by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Its goal is to educate the public about the past utilizing the historic, cultural and natural resources associated with the site.

The division will continue to undertake additional research to learn more about this burial ground and those interred there and to engage with descendent communities in making important decisions regarding the expansion of the interpretive footprint of this land.

There is no public access to this location.

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