John Dickinson and the Plantation Timeline

November 2, 1732 – John Dickinson was born in Talbot County, Maryland.

January 18, 1740 – Dickinson family moved into the mansion in Kent County, Delaware.

December 1753 – John Dickinson arrived in London and spent four years studying law at the Middle Temple Inns of Court.

1757 – John Dickinson returned to America and established a law practice in Philadelphia.

October 1759 – After practicing law for a little more than a year, John Dickinson was elected to the Delaware Assembly as a Kent County representative.

July 6, 1760 – Samuel Dickinson, father of John Dickinson, died. The enslaved individuals and the land in Delaware he owned was inherited by his sons, John, and Philemon Dickinson.

October 1760 – John Dickinson was re-elected to the Delaware Assembly and chosen to be speaker of the Assembly.

May 1762 – John Dickinson was elected to fill a vacant seat in the Pennsylvania Assembly in a special election.

October 1764 – John Dickinson was re-elected to Pennsylvania Assembly.

September 1765 – John Dickinson chaired a committee to write instructions for Pennsylvania representatives to the Stamp Act Congress.

October 1765 – John Dickinson served as representative to Stamp Act Congress.

December 1765 – John Dickinson wrote and published pamphlet, “The Late Regulations respecting the British Colonies considered.”

December 2, 1767 – John Dickinson anonymously wrote and published in newspapers the first of a series of letters titled “Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies.”

July 19, 1770 – John Dickinson married Mary Norris.

October 1770 – John Dickinson was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly.

December 10, 1771 – Sally Dickinson, daughter of John and Mary, was born.

June 1774 – John Dickinson was appointed Chairman of the Philadelphia Committee of Correspondence, which worked to strengthen information sharing between the colonies, and mobilize opposition to the British policies.

September 5, 1774 – First Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia.

October 1774 – John Dickinson went to Pennsylvania Assembly; served as delegate to First Continental Congress; wrote “An Address to the Inhabitants of Quebec.”

May 10, 1775 – Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia with John Dickinson as a delegate.

May 23, 1775 – John Dickinson was appointed Colonel of the 1st Battalion of Associators, Philadelphia.

June 1775 – John Dickinson was appointed Chairman of Committee of Safety and Defense for Pennsylvania. This committee was created to oversee all military measures necessary for the defense of the colony.

July 1775 – John Dickinson wrote the “Olive Branch Petition.” He collaborated with Thomas Jefferson to write “Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms.”

March 22, 1776 – Mary Cadwalader, John’s mother, died.

June 12, 1776 – John Dickinson chaired Committee tasked with writing the Articles of Confederation. Committee was comprised of one representative from each of the thirteen colonies. Dickinson abstained from the final vote for Independence.

June 15, 1776 – Separation Day, when the “Lower Counties” would formally separate from Pennsylvania and become Delaware.

June 1776 – John Dickinson dismissed as a delegate from Congress while he was leading his militia into New Jersey.

September 20, 1776 – Delaware’s first state Constitution adopted in New Castle.

September 30, 1776 – John Dickinson resigned commission.

November 1776 – John Dickinson declined elected seat in both Pennsylvania and Delaware Assemblies.

November 15, 1777 – The Continental Congress formally adopted the Articles of Confederation. John Dickinson drafted the document and was one of 48 men who signed it.

December 1777 – early 1779 – John Dickinson and family, maintained residence at the mansion.

April 26, 1777 – Sally, John’s daughter, broke her arm.

June 18, 1777 – Philemon, John’s brother, became a Major General in the army.

August 28, 1777 – John Dickinson conditionally manumitted 37 enslaved individuals. The condition was that the enslaved individuals would have to work an additional 21 years.

September 11, 1777 – Battle of Brandywine, John Dickinson served as a private in Capt. Lewis company of Caesar Rodney’s Delaware Brigade.

November 22, 1777 – British burned Fairhill, Mary and John Dickinson’s Philadelphia home.

April 1779 – John Dickinson accepted appointment to Congress from Delaware.

August 1781 – Tory loyalists raided the mansion.

September 27, 1781 – John Dickinson unconditionally manumitted six enslaved individuals. The six people freed were Joseph Martin, Violet, William, Pompey, Nancy, and Rose.

November 1781 – John Dickinson elected as the 5th President of Delaware for a three-year term.

October/November 1782 – John Dickinson elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council. He was elected as the 5th President of Pennsylvania for a three-year term.

November 6, 1783 – Maria Dickinson, daughter of John and Mary was born.

1784 – John Dickinson donated 500 acres of land in both Adams and Cumberland counties for establishing Dickinson College. In addition, both John and Mary Dickinson donated 1,500 books.

October 1785 – John Dickinson finished term as the 5th President of Pennsylvania. The Dickinsons moved from Philadelphia to Wilmington.

May 11, 1786 – John Dickinson unconditionally manumitted all the enslaved individuals he owned.

September 1786 – John Dickinson led the Delaware delegation to Annapolis Convention and was selected Chairman of Convention.

May 25, 1787 – Constitutional Convention convened. John Dickinson was one of five Delaware delegates to attend.

December 7, 1787 – Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution. When the new Constitution was submitted to the states for ratification, Delaware was the first of the thirteen original states to ratify the Constitution of the United States. This unanimous ratification took place in a convention of Dover on December 7, 1787, whereby Delaware became “The First State” of the new Federal Union.

1788 – John Dickinson wrote the first of the “Fabius” letters in defense of the Constitution.

June 12, 1792 – Delaware’s second state Constitution was adopted in Dover.

December 1792 – John Dickinson was elected to the Delaware Assembly.

March 1793 – John Dickinson resigned his senatorial seat.

1798 – John Dickinson wrote second series of “Fabius” letters, encouraging friendly policy toward republican France.

November 1801 – John Dickinson leased land in Dover Hundred to Peter Patten and John Furby, two free Black men, who were brothers.

July 23, 1803 – Mary Norris, John’s wife, died.

March 3, 1804 – The mansion caught fire. The interior of the mansion in the first section of the house was destroyed by fire.

1806 – The mansion was restored using insurance money.

February 14, 1808 – John Dickinson died in Wilmington Delaware, at the age of 75.

September 17, 1952 – The mansion and twelve acres of land were presented to the State of Delaware by the National Society of Colonial Dames of the State of Delaware.

May 2, 1956 – The John Dickinson Mansion opened to the public.

January 20, 1961 – The John Dickinson Mansion became the first designated National Historic Landmark in Delaware.

October 15, 1966 – The John Dickinson Mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1984 -1990 – Plantation outbuildings were recreated based on archival and archaeological research. The buildings included a granary, feed barn, corn crib, stable, smokehouse, and log’d dwelling.

2000 – The Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and the Division of Parks and Recreation in conjunction with the Open Space Council purchased 420 acres of farmland and marsh surrounding the mansion.

June 2008 – The John Dickinson Plantation became a member of the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom.

2015 – The John Dickinson Plantation became one of seven sites that comprise the First State National Historical Park.

2020 – The John Dickinson Plantation became a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.

March 9, 2021 – The African Burial Ground was discovered.

November 10, 2021 – Governor John Carney hosted a panel discussion about the African Burial Ground, the Delaware Forum: African Burial Ground at the John Dickinson Plantation.

June 15, 2022 – The John Dickinson Plantation was honored with an Award of Excellence by the American Association for State and Local History for the “Search, Discovery, and Interpretation of the African Burial Ground at the John Dickinson Plantation.

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