Following the surrender of the British, America became a nation of small farmers who enjoyed a certain amount of peace and prosperity, but affairs abroad involving Great Britain, France and Spain, combined with French and Indian affairs in the south and west led to a war (the War of 1812), and certain New England states were considering secession from the Union. Weary from war and the threat of war, as well as political scandal involving national leaders and national spiritual decline, the 1798 pastoral letter of the Presbyterian Church, distributed nationally by the General Assembly, included this sobering assessment of the country’s spiritual condition.
Economically, times were good for Wilmington and Delaware. Delaware began its rise as a center of industry when a native of the state, Oliver Evans, invented the machinery for automatic flour milling in 1785. That industry, centered in Brandywine Village, grew quickly, and added to the prosperity of Wilmington. The first U.S. Census, in 1790, recorded a Delaware population of 59,096, of whom 46,310 were white, 3,899 were free Negroes, and 8,887 were slaves. New Castle County’s population was nearly 20,000, less than Sussex but more than Kent.
We perceive, with pain and fearful
apprehension, a general dereliction of
religious principle and practice among
fellow citizens, a visible and prevailing
impiety and contempt for laws and
institutions of religion and on abounding
infidelity which in many instances tends
to Atheism itself… The profligacy and
corruption of the public morals have
advanced with a progress proportionate
to our declension in religion.
Profaneness, pride, luxury, injustice,
intemperance, lewdness, and very species
of debauchery and loose indulgence