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The Achievement

The Seal

Armed Forces

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The Achievement


The present achievement of Delaware was adopted on 17 January 1777, together with the seal. It is:


Arms: Per fess Or and Argent, a fesse wavy Azure, in chief a sheaf of wheat per bend on the dexter and an ear of corn per bend sinister on the sinister both proper; in basae an ox statant on a grasse ground proper.

Crest: A sailing ship under full sail proper.

Supporters: A husbandman with a hoe in his hand on the dexter and an American Soldier under arms, on the sinister both proper



This achievement has been used unchanged until the present day. The motto was added in 1847. It was confirmed for the last time on 28 June 2004


Æ See a representation of 1856 in the head of this essay. [1]


NB.: Here the clipper is sailing to the sinister instead of to the dexter as usual on other representations.


The Seal


Perhaps inspired by the riches other Great Powers gathered from their overseas colonies, Sweden too sought to extend its influence to the New World. In 1637, Swedish, Dutch and German stockholders formed the New Sweden Company to trade for furs and tobacco in North America. Under the command of Peter Minuit, the company's first expedition sailed from Sweden late in 1637 in two ships, Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip. Minuit had been the governor of the Dutch colony, New Netherland, centered on Manhattan Island, from 1626 to 1631.

The ships reached Delaware Bay in March 1638, and the settlers began to build a fort at the site of present-day Wilmington, Delaware. They named it Fort Christina, in honor of Sweden's twelve-year-old queen. It was the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley.

The colony eventually consisted of farms and small settlements along both banks of the Delaware River into modern Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

New Sweden rose to its greatest heights during the governorship of Johan Printz (1643-‘53). Unfortunately, his autocratic rule left many settlers dissatisfied which lead to that Governor's return to Sweden. In 1654, Printz was succeeded by Johan Rising, at a time when the Dutch capital of New Amsterdam was ruled by Peter Stuyvesant. Soon after arriving in New Sweden, Rising attempted to remove the Dutch from the colony by seizing Fort Casimir (present-day New Castle, Delaware), below Fort Christina on the western shore of the river. With no gunpowder, Fort Casimir surrendered without a shot and was re-named Fort Trinity.

Governor Stuyvesant had his revenge the following summer, when seven armed Dutch ships and 317 soldiers appeared on the Delaware River. The Swedes surrendered Fort Trinity without resistance and Governor Rising surrendered Fort Christina two weeks later.

Nieuw Nederland was annexed by the British in 1664 and was renamed New York by them.


The seal of Nieuw Nederland Colony

The seal of the Province of New York


The British

Until the 24th August 1682, the seal of the Province of New York was used to authenticate all public and private papers requiring its use. [2]


“On the 24th of March, 1770, it was enacted by the Hon. John Penn, Esqr: with his Majesty’s Royal approbation, Lieut. Governor and Counselor in Chief of the Counties of New Castle, Kent and Sussex Upon Delaware, and province of Pennsylvania, under the Hon. Thos. Penn and Richard Penn, Esqrs, and one and absolute Proprietaries of the Said Government and Province, by and with the advice and consent of the Representators of the Freemen of the Said Government in General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same, that whereas these Counties before the 24th day of August in the year of our Lord 1682, were under the jurisdiction and government of the Province of New York, and the lands within the same were granted by the Governor and Commander in chief of Said Province; and many of the orders of the Governors, minutes of council, warrants, suveys, patents and deeds for the same were filed and recorded in the Secretary’s office there: -

“SECTION II. And whereas the said original papers are entered in the books and records in the said office promiscuisly with other original papers for, and relating to lands, tenements, and hereditaments, lying within that province, so that the said orginal papers and records cannot be obtained from and hence, and

“SECTION III. Whereas considering the grievous hardships encountered in procuring such original papers and records; The Assembly of this Government has procured as many of the orders of Governors, minutes of Council, surveys, patents, deeds, wills and original papers, as in any wise related to lands, tenements, &c., within these Counties, and could be there found by him, to be transcribed under the direction of Thomas McKean, one of the members of said assembly; and being compared with the originals, and properly authenticated and sworn to by the Deputy Secretary, Attorney at Law, before His Excellency Henry Moore, Baronet, Captain General, and Governor in Chief of the said province of New York &c. Under the Great Seal of the Province, certified and signed by the said Thomas McKean &c.”


William Penn

In 1664, James, the Duke of York and brother of King Charles II, outfitted an expedition that easily ousted the Dutch from both the Delaware and Hudson rivers, leaving the Duke of York the proprietary authority in the entire area.

Delaware, a part of New York, was sold by its owner, the Duke of York, to William Penn in 1682.


The arms of William Penn, on a bookplate [3]


According to  Burke’s Peerage the arms of  William Penn were: Ar. on a fess sa. three plates. Crest - a demi lion ramp. ar. gorged with a collar sa. charged with three plates. Motto - dum clarum rectum teneam (May I keep the line of right as well as of glory).


William Penn divided the territory into three counties: Kent-, New Castle- and Sussex upon Delaware.


The Seals of the Counties of Delaware, 1683


On the seals are the arms of Penn augmented with a crescent Sable in chief. Each coat of arms has its own crest, the crest of New Castle being a castle, the crest of Kent three ears of corn and the crest of Sussex a sheaf of wheat. The legend of the seals read: WILLIAM PENN Ÿ william Ÿ penn Ÿ propRiator Ÿ and Ÿ governor Ÿ and the name of the county.



“The following extracts from the ‘Notes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives of the Province of Pennsylvania (Printed by Benj. Franklin and D. Hall, A.D. 1752)’ show that the form of government framed by William Penn, April 25th, 1682, was sealed with his own ‘Broad Seal’:

“Also, that at an Assembly of Representatives from the six counties, Bucks, Chester, Philadelphia, New Castle, Kent and Sussex, held in Philadelphia February 3rd, 1682, ‘it was resolved that alle Laws should be passed under the “Great Seal of the Province.”’ [4]

“On the 24th August, 1682, in the 34th year of Charles Second, James Duke of York and Albany &c. &c., granted a Deed of Feoffment of New Castle and the land within a twelve miles circle northward to William Penn, Esqr., and also a Deed of a tract of Land South of New Castle to the Whorekills; both which were sealed with the Seal of James, Duke of York &c. In the year 1683, an act was passed directing that all grants of inheritance from the Proprietary William Penn, shall be sealed with the ‘Court Seal’.’[5]


“In the year 1700 in the 12th year of William III., it was enacted that all grants of lands from the Proprietary shall hencefort be sealed with the great seal of this province and territories.”


The Great Seal of 1751

In the year of George II., A.D. 1751, an act was passed which provides that a certain silver seal in the then Governor’s custody, with the arms of the King of Great Britain engraved thereon and the inscription “Delaware” around it, was, by an act establishing a “Great Seal” for this government, directed to be the “Great Seal of Government in these Counties and Territories”- “and whereas upon receiving the said Seal it is found that the  inscription ‘Dellovvare’ is thereon cut around the same instead of the word ‘Delaware,’ in the said act mentioned; therefore for presenting any doubt or controversaries that may arise by reason thereof; it was enacted by the Hon. James Hamilton Esqr.; with his Majesty’s Royal approbabtion Lieut. Governor and Commander in Chief of Counties of New Castle, Kent and Sussex, upon Delaware, and province of Pennsylvania, by and with the advice and consent of the Representatives of the freemen of the Said Counties in General Assembly met; and by the authority of the same it was directed that Jehu Curtis, Benjamn Chew and Abraham Wyncoops, Gentlemen, or any two of them are hereby authorized to provide at the expense of this Government, with all possible speed, a silver Seal, to be made of the diameter of two inches, to be engraved with the Arms of the King of Great Bitain and an inscription of words, ‘COUNTIES ON DELAWARE,’ and the figures 1751, around the same; which shall be the ‘Great Seal of this Government;’ and any two of the above named persons shall cause the Great Seal now in use to be broken and defaced in their presence.


“It would appear, then, that in the year 1751 the first great seal of the ‘Three Counties on Delaware’ was provided.


The Great Seal of 1776

This seal remained unchanged until ‘In the Constitution or System of Government agreed to and resolved upon by the Representatives of te Delaware State in full Convention, which state was formerly styled,  “the Government of the Counties of New Castle, Kent and Susses upon Delaware,” the said Representatives being chosen by the freemen of the said State for that express purpose (Article XIX), it is declared

“that the Legislative Council and Assembly shall have the power of making the Great Seal of this State, which shall be kept by the President, or in his absence by the Vice-President, to be used by them as occasion may require. It shall be called the ‘Great Seal of the Delaware State, and it shall be affixed to all Laws and Commissions’”[6]

This was the constitution adopted September 20, 1776.


“The proceedings connected with the adoption of the device for the Great Seal of the State of Delaware were as follows:

“ ‘October 30th, 1776. The “House Assembly” requested the Council to appoint a committee to confer with the committee of the “House” on the subject matter of making a Great Seal of the State; and withdrew.

“’The Council, taking the same into consideration, resolved, that Messrs. Sykes and Von Dyke be appointed a Committee to confer with a committee of the House of Assembly on the subject of forming a device and making a Great Seal of State. Nov. 2nd. 1776. The Report of the Committee on a device for a Great Seal, was read in the House, and reported to the Council as follows:

’Resolved, that a committee of one member from each House be apponted to procure, as soon as possible a silver Seal of the Diameter of three inches, and of a cicular form, and that there be engraved, “Britania” upon the Right side thereof, and upon the left side opposite to her, “Liberty” in the usual shape, with a label proceeding from “Britania”to “Liberty” in these words, “Go to America;” and there be engraven on the top, the shape of a book, having these words thereon, “The Bill of Rights;” and at the bottom another Book, having these words thereon, “The System of Government,” and that there shall be an inscription around the same, near the edge or extremity thereof in the followng Capital letters, “THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE,” with the figures “1776.” That Mr McKean be appointed on the part of this “House,” for the purpose above mentioned.

“”On motion, Resoved, that Mr. Sykes be appointed on the part of the Council to procure a Great Seal of the State as aforesaid.

“’January 16th , 1777. Mr Sykes, the Committee appointed on the part of the Council to procure a Great Seal, agreeably to the Resolution of this House of November 2nd 1776, made the following Report; The Committee to get a skillful engraver to make a Great Seal for this State, which was agreed upon by both Houses, now Report, that they could procure no person capable of executing the work at this time, being engaged in other very important business for the safety of the Country. That upon consulting an ingenious gentleman in the Art of Heraldry, your Committee are of the opinion that the Great Seal agreed upon would be more suitable for a medal, than the Seal of State; and therefore submit the same to the consideration of both Houses; which having been considered to the satisfaction of the Council, the Committee was discharged, this was agreed to by the House.

“’January 13th, 1777. In the House of Assembly Messrs. Robinson and McKean were appointed a Committee to confer with a Committee of the Council on the subject of a device for a Great Seal of the State; and also to fix upon a seal which shall be used pro tempore, until the Great Seal of the State be agreed upon by both Houses, shall be made.

“The seal of New Castle County was decided upon and used as a Great Seal after the Declaration of Independence. This seal was afterwards captured and carried away by the British; and not having been recovere at the time of the meeting of the Legislature, in 1777, it was resolved that the ancient seal of the County of Kent, dated 1683, be the Great Seal of the State, pro tempore, until the New Seal be prepared and delivered to the Commander-in-Chief of the State; JohnMcKinley, President of the State, being held a prisoner by theBritish, Messrs. Cantwell and Wiltbank were appointed a Committee of the Council to confer with a Committee of the House of Assembly on the subject of forming a seal.

’January 17th 1777. The above Committee brought in their Report; which was accepted and adopted; and it was Resolved N.C.D. that Mr. McKean be a committee to employ a skillful workman to make a silver seal of the Diameter of three inches, and of circular form, and that an Ox of full stature in a shield, with a river dividing the wheat sheaf and ear of Indian Corn from that which is to be cut on the nether part of the shield below the River; that the supporters be an American Soldier under arms, on the right, and a husbandman with a hoe in his hand on the left; and that a ship be the Crest; and that there shall be an inscription around the same near te edge or extremity thereof in the words following, in Capital letters: THE GREAT SEAL OF THE DELAWARE STATE with the figure 1777, which shall, from and after the delivery thereof to the President and Commander in Chief, be the Great Seal and deemed the Arms of of this State.

“Resolved, That the Seal of the County of New Castle shall be deemed and held to be the Great Seal of this State pro tempore until the above described Great Seal is made and delivered to the President and Commander-in-Chief, and no longer.


“The Constitution of 1792 recognizes a Great Seal (and consequently the achievement too) as then existing.


Great Seal of 1793

In 1793 it was enacted ‘that the seal heretofore used (to wit, the seal decided in the Constitution of 1776) shall be, and is hereby declared to be the Great Seal of the State,’ and it was also enacted, February 2, 1793,  ‘That the Secretary of State shall cause a Great Seal to be made of such device as the Governor shall approve, which shall hereafter be used for the same purpose for which the said seal, herein first mentioned is directed to be used; and when such New Great Seal shall be made, the seal first mentioned aforesaid shall be broken, and no longer used.

On this seal the arms and crest as adopted in 1777 was engraved within a garland and the date MDCCXCIII. The legend read: GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE. At the same time the farmer and the soldier wee eliminated from the seal.

“This seal was used until the adoption of the seal of 1847; it was enacted ‘that the Secretary of State be empowered to procure a New Seal, to be used as the Great Seal.


Great Seal of 1847


The seal of 1847 was to be emblazoned like the seal of 1777. Its legend however was the same as on the seal of 1793.

When it was adopted it was stipulated:

When produced the Secretary shall break and destroy the Seal now used (to wit the Seal of 1793) as the Great Seal of the State of Delaware.



From: Dictionnaire encyclopédique Trousset, Paris, 1886 - 1891


The Great Seal of 1907 [7]

An act of the Delaware legislature, approved on February 25, 1907, says:


“Section 1. That the Secretary of State be, and he is hereby authorized to procure a new seal and press, to be used as the Great Seal of the State of Delaware, which said seal shall not exeed three inches in diameter, and shall be emblazoned as follows: Party per fess, or and argent, the first charged with a Garb (wheat sheaf) in bend dexter; and an ear of maize in bend sinister; both proper; the second charged with an ox statant ruminating, proper, Fess, wavy azure. Supporters, on the dexter a husbandman with hilling hoe, on the sinister a rifleman armed and accoutred, at ease; Crest, on a wreath azure and argent, a ship under full sail, proper; with the words, Great Seal of the State of Delaware and also the words Liberty and Independence, engraved thereon. [8]


As far as can be ascertained, the first Great Seal of this State (then called the Three Counties on Delaware) was provided by enactment in 1751. The next Great Seal was provided by Constitution of September 20, 1776. The third Great Seal was ordered in 1793 and the fourth and last, in 1847.’”


Great Seal of the State of Delaware, 2004



The Great Seal of the State of Delaware was first adopted on January 17, 1777, with the current version being adopted April 29, 2004. It contains the state coat of arms surrounded by an inscription, and the dates 1704, 1776 and 1787 .

The images on Delaware's official great seal symbolize the foundations of the state's economy and a part of the state's history. Note that each of Delaware's three counties is represented.

Delaware Code Title 29 § 301



The surrounding inscription reads: "Great Seal of the State of Delaware" and the dates 1704, 1776 and 1787.

1704:The Lower Counties on the Delaware established their own General Assembly in 1704;

1776:Separation Day, June 15, 1776, was the day the colonial General Assembly declared Delaware an independent state;

1787:Delaware Day, December 7, 1787, was the day Delaware ratified the United States Constitution, being the first state to do so.


History of Changes

The seal was originally adopted in 1777 with minor changes made in 1793, 1847, and 1907. The current version was adopted in 2004.

1793:The figures of the farmer and the soldier were eliminated from the seal.

1847:The farmer and the soldier were restored and the motto ,Liberty and Independence, was added on a ribbon at their feet. The motto was provided by the Society of the Cincinnati, a hereditary organization of Revolutionary War officers formed in 1783.

1907: The seal was "modernized" and "THE DELAWARE STATE" was changed to "THE STATE OF DELAWARE".


Delaware House Bill 128

On April 9, 2003, Representative Wayne Smith introduced House Bill No. 128 in to the Delaware House of Representatives. This bill suggested that the dates representing the physical changes to the seal be replaced by dates "...that have more substantial historic significance.

" House Bill No. 128 proposed that the years 1704, 1776 and 1787 should replace the current dates on the seal and indicated the historical significance of the replacement dates.

1704 - The year that Delaware established its First General Assembly.

1776 - The year that the colonies declared independence from Great Britain.

1787 - The year that Delaware became "The First State" to ratify the United States Constitution.

The bill was approved by the Delaware House of Representatives on April 29, 2004.

On June 17, 2004, sixth grader Yaxier Torres and seven of his classmates from Bayard Elementary School in Wilmington, entered Legislative Hall in Dover. They were there to speak on behalf of the date changes proposed by House Bill No. 128, explaining why the current dates on the seal were not relevant to Delaware history and confused them


The Delaware House of Representatives and the Delaware Senate had both approved House Bill No. 128

On June 28, 2004, Governor Ruth Ann Minner signed the legislation that changed the dates on the Great Seal of the State of Delaware.


Delaware Law


State Government

General Provisions



§ 301 Great Seal.


The seal now used as the Great Seal of this State and bearing the arms of this State shall be the Great Seal of this State. It is emblazoned as follows: Party per fess, or and argent, the first charged with a garb (wheat sheaf) in bend dexter and an ear of maize (Indian Corn) in bend sinister, both proper; the second charged with an ox statant, ruminating, proper; fess, wavy azure, supporters on the dexter a husbandman with a hilling hoe, on the sinister a rifleman armed and accoutred at ease. Crest, on a wreath azure and argent, a ship under full sail, proper, with the words "Great Seal of the State of Delaware," the dates "1704, 1776, and 1787," and the words "Liberty and Independence" engraved thereon.


Code 1852, § 463; 24 Del. Laws, c. 89, § 1; Code 1915, § 387; Code 1935, § 361; 29 Del. C. 1953, § 501; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1.;


§ 302 Seal of state officials, courts and public officers.


The seals of the Secretary of State and Auditor of Accounts and of the several courts of this State and of the several public offices and officers in the several counties, now established and used, shall be the seals of such courts, offices and officers respectively and shall be so received and used. The seal of the office of the clerk of peace shall be the seal of the county government of Kent and Sussex Counties. The seal of the office of the clerk of the county council shall be the seal of the county government of New Castle County.

Code 1852, § 464; 21 Del. Laws, c. 114; Code 1915, § 388; Code 1935, § 362; 29 Del. C. 1953, § 502; 54 Del. Laws, c. 186; 55 Del. Laws, c. 85, § 38A.;





Delaware State Area Command






That for regiments and separate battalions of the Delaware Army National Guard:  From a wreath of colors, a griffin's head erased Azure eared and beaked Or langued Gules collared Sable fimbriated Argent and thereon three plates.



A griffin was the device of Lord De la Warre and the three white discs are from the arms of William Penn.



The crest was approved for color bearing organizations of the State of Delaware on 6 April 1922.


Distinctive Unit Insignia




A silver color metal and enamel device 1 3/16 inches (3.02 cm) in height overall consisting of the authorized crest for the Delaware Army National Guard.  (On a wreath of six "twists" alternating silver and red, a blue griffin's head erased with yellow ears and beak and red tongue with black collar with silver rims and bearing three silver discs).



The blue griffin's head "erased" was the device of Lord De la Warre for whom Delaware River, Delaware Bay, the colony of Delaware and the State of Delaware were named.  The black, silver edged bar (collar) with three silver discs are from the coat of arms of William Penn to whom the colony of Delaware was granted in 1682 and which was under the jurisdiction of the colony of Pennsylvania until 1701 when Penn agreed to a separate Delaware assembly.  (The griffin's head in being torn off from the rest of the body may, in this instance, be taken as an indication of that event.  The wreath in the red and white colors of England refers to the English colonization of Delaware).



The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and noncolor bearing units of the Delaware Army National Guard on 24 February 1971.  It was redesignated effective 30 December 1983, for Headquarters, State Area Command, Delaware Army National Guard.


Shoulder Sleeve Insignia





On a pale blue oval background 3 inches (7.62 cm) by 2 1/16 inches (5.24 cm) with long axis horizontal, the crest of the Delaware National Guard Proper.



A griffin was the device of Lord De la Warre and the three discs are from the Arms of William Penn.



The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Delaware National Guard on 12 February 1948.  It was redesignated for Headquarters, State Area Command, Delaware Army National Guard on 30 December 1983.  (TIOH Dwg. No. A-1-476)



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[1] State Seals Painted on Glass Decorated House Ceiling  Johannes A. Oertel [Delaware State Seal from the House of Representatives Chamber Ceiling,]  c. 1856 Oil on glass Delaware State Museums, Dover

[2] The followings sections from: Zieber, Eugene: Heraldry in America. Published by the Department of Heraldry of the Bailey, Banks and Biddle Company. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1895.P.p. 120-125

[3] bookplate, which is pasted into the inside front cover of a copy of a 1652 edition of the typically verbose 17th century title:  Samuel Hartlib his Legacie: or an Englargement of the Discourse of HUSBANDRY used in Brabant & Flaunders: Wehrein are bequeathed to the Common-wealth of England, more Outlandish and Domestick Experiments and Secrets, in reference to Universal Husbandry (Penn Libraries, EC65 H2554 651s 1652). 

[4] See same Notes and Proceedings also at an Assembly held at Chester, alias Upland, October 6, 1682: “an Act of Union was made by William Penn and Sealed with his ‘Broas Seal.’”  See Appendix to same book.

[5] See page 15 of the Appendix to the copy of “Laws of the State of SDelaware,”printed by John & Samuel Adams, 1797.

[6] See Appendix to the  “Laws of Delaware”as aforesaid, page 87, vol. i

[7] Shankle, Georg Earlie: State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and other Symbols. The H.W. Wilson Comp.. New York, 1951

[8] Delaware Laws, 1907: Laws of the State of Delaware, Passed at a Special Session of the General Assembly. Commenced and Held at Dover on Thursday, May 31st. A.D. , 1906, and in theYear of the Independence of the United States the One Hundred and Thirtieth (The Delaware Print, Dover , Delaware, 1907) vol. 24, pt.1. p. 171.

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