Children in Delaware outside a brothel in 1910.
Technically, until 1972, the US state of Delaware had the age of consent set at seven. It was 1972 that the old law codes were completely overhauled.
It was in February 1889 that the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union submitted a petition to the Delaware General Assembly to have the age raised. The petition had ten yards of signatures of Delaware residents on it.
The age had been lowered to seven in 1871, having previously been ten. It was the lowest age of consent in the United States.
A list of the age of consent in various states.
Click to enlarge and read.
The idea of the low age of consent for girls had a lot to do with proving rape (and dealing with – or ignoring! – child prostitution). Investigators in a rape case had to prove force and lack of consent, and the changed law helped cover for men having sex with young girls.
The states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida had the age set at ten.
At the end of the 1880s, the lowest age a girl could work as a prostitute in Delaware was raised to fifteen.