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Living History

The main house is an Early Georgian mansion and was built on a 13,000-acre (53 km2) plantation in 1739/40 by Judge Samuel Dickinson, the father of John Dickinson. Wings were added in 1752 and 1754. The house faced a near-by bend of the St. Jones River which is no longer there as the river has been straightened. The original house suffered major damage during a British raid in August 1781 and was nearly destroyed in a fire in 1804. John Dickinson lived there for extended periods only in 1776/77 and 1781/82, although he kept up a keen interest in the property and often visited. Purchased by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in 1952, it was given to the State of Delaware and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961.[2],[3]

John Dickinson (1732-1808) was a lawyer and politician who spent most of the time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware. He was at various times a Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania and Delaware, a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, President of Delaware, and President of Pennsylvania. Among the wealthiest men in the American colonies, he became known as the Penman of the Revolution, for his Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, where he eloquently argued the cause of American liberty. Although refusing to vote in favor of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, he supported the establishment of the new government during the American Revolution and afterward in many official capacities. The John Dickinson Plantation is located at 310 Kitts Hummock Road, 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Dover, Delaware by Delaware Route 1, and .3 miles east on Kitts Hummock Road.

John Dickinson was born in November, 1732 in Talbot County, Maryland. In 1740, John's father, Samuel Dickinson moved his family to a plantation on Jones Neck, southeast of Dover, Delaware. Samuel Dickinson had come to Kent County, Delaware to accept a judgeship and to allow his wife, Mary Cadwalader Dickinson to be closer to her native Philadelphia.

At the new plantation, which they called Poplar Hall, John was schooled by his parents and a series of tutors. In 1750, at age 18, John began reading law in Philadelphia and later to England at Middle Temple, Inns of Court and Westminster. Returning home in 1757, he began law practice in Philadelphia. Active in the Pennsylvania Assembly, he attended the Stamp Act Congress where his suggested resolutions were adopted with few changes. His Letters of a Farmer in Pennsylvania written in 1767, brought him fame. As a result, Dickinson was called on for advice and inspiration in the years before the First Continental Congress.