First and Last: Delaware’s Fraught History with Slavery and Abolition

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Despite being the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787, Delaware refused to sign the 13th Amendment to formally abolish slavery until 1901. In First and Last: Delaware’s Fraught History with Slavery and Abolition, explore the state’s complex history with slavery and abolition.  


Visitors will learn about slavery and colonization efforts in the state; Black Delawareans’ involvement in the underground railroad; and the notorious Patty Cannon gang, who kidnapped, sold and killed free and enslaved Black people in the state. Materials on view include books, letters, photographs, deeds of sale for enslaved persons, newspaper ads for runaway slaves, copies of Delaware legislative bills, and more.


The exhibition is on view February 7 - May 13 in the Lincoln Exhibition Case, which is located outside the Special Collections Gallery in Morris Library on the University of Delaware’s Newark campus. It can be viewed during Morris Library’s operating hours. Admission is free.

Saturday, May 13, 2023 at 8:00am to 5:00pm

Morris Library, Lincoln Exhibition Case University of Delaware Library

Event Type

Students, Faculty & Staff, Community, Exhibitions



Library, Museums and Press



No Charge, Open to the public

Contact Email

Contact Name

Vicky White

Contact Phone



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