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Delaware was never a separate colony in the colonial period. It was considered to be part of the Province of Pennsylvania. In 1681 William Penn was granted a charter for the colony of Pennsylvania that roughly corresponded to its current borders. However since the colony was entirely inland (the only one of the original 13 colonies that did not touch the Atlantic Ocean) Penn became concerned that his new province would be cut off from the ocean. Because of this concern, he received a land grant in the eastern part of what is now called the Delmarva Peninsula to insure that Pennsylvania would have access to the sea. This land grant was divided into three counties and became known as the "Lower Counties on the Delaware River" or simple the "Lower Delaware" to distinguish them from the three counties in the original Pennsylvania land grant.

The Penn family controlled both regions however the settlers in the three "Lower Delaware" counties complained that the colonial capital in Philadelphia was too far away and in 1701 the Penn family agreed to establish a separate legislature for the three Lower Delaware counties that met in New Castle and would pass laws that applied to only the Lower Delaware counties. There was no hard and fast delineation between the upper and lower counties however and legislators sometimes served in both houses. Penn family administered both regions as a single entity with a single governor but two legislatures and two sets of laws.

In 1775 a delegation from Lower Delaware was invited to join the Continental Congress and given a vote equivalent to a colony and became the "13th colony" even though it never officially held the position of a stand alone colony. The region was still considered to be merely a semi-self governing part of the Province of Pennsylvania. In 1776 independence was declared from Britain and the Penn family was kicked out. A delegation from the Lower Delaware declared themselves a separate state known as Delaware. There was still no clear delineation between what constituted a Pennsylvanian and what constituted a Delawarean in the revolutionary period and at least two men, Thomas McKean and John Dickenson served as both governor of Pennsylvania and governor of Delaware at various times. By the end of the Revolution the separation between the two regions was largely set however the final boundary between Pennsylvania and Delaware remained contentious and would not be fully settled until 1921.

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Q: What was the Delaware government like in the 1600s?
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