Finding the Cape

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100th Anniversary
Cape Henlopen is listed as Cape James in this 1776 Chart of the Delaware Bay and River.

Finding the Cape

The power of the "map" is an integral part of the controversial history of Delaware’s eventual statehood in 1776. The center of the controversy, the name and position of a cape at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, lies mired in a seventy year old dispute between the Calvert (Lords Baltimore) and Penn families, or Maryland and Pennsylvania respectively.

17th and 18th century maps show various names for modern Cape Henlopen including: False Cape, Cape James, Cape Cornelius (which appeared on both parties’ maps in the boundary dispute), Cape Henlopen and Cape Hinlopen. Ironically, this controversy originated in the different spellings of the name of the cape. Early Swedish settlers called the present Cape Henlopen, Cape Inlopen, and the Fenwick Island Cape Henlopen or Hinlopen, signifying "entering in". The modern spelling of Cape Henlopen did not stabilize until the mid-19th century.

This map is found in the Delaware Public Archives state map collection. This collection is part of the Department of State Collection which includes records associated with the Office of the Secretary of State and the divisions within the department including the Division of Corporations to Historical and Cultural Affairs.