Winter Tea Party winners: Angela's book,THE SCARLET COAT, will go to: Print copy- Andrea Stephens; e-book copy - Catherine Wight!

LUCY REYNOLDS has a table topper quilt on the way, and winners of the Valentine Ebook Collection are: Deanna Stevens, Caryl Kane, Anne Payne and Winnie Thomas. With thanks to all who joined in!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Caesar Rodney, Hero of Delaware



It was July 2, 1776.

Exhausted and muddied, the frail yet determined man stumbled into the doorway of the chamber where the second Continental Congress was meeting. Making his way to the desk where the delegates from Delaware sat, he slumped into his wooden chair. Soaked to the skin, he breathed with some difficulty. He had a bandage covering the cancerous sore on his face. But the 48-year-old major general of the Delaware militia, Caesar Rodney, voted with the passion of a man who would ride through any storm to let his desire for liberty lead to the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

Without his vote, the United States of America would likely not exist.

So who was Ceasar Rodney?

He was born the son of a Delaware farmer in 1728. When only seventeen, his father died and the teen was placed under the guardianship of a clerk of the peace in Kent County, Delaware. Through his guardian’s influence, Rodney became interested in politics.

At the young age of twenty-seven, Rodney was named Commissioner High Sheriff of Delaware. Other offices that he held in subsequent years were Registrar of Wills, Recorder of Deeds, Clerk of the Orphan’s Court, and Justice of the Peace. 

By the time he was thirty, he was elected to the Colonial Legislature at Newcastle, Delaware.

In 1765, Rodney was a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress, the first official gathering of several colonies fighting against the higher taxes being enacted by Great Britain. The battle cry of that Congress was “No taxation without representation.”
Rodney's Signature on the Declaration of Independence

Named a delegate to the Continental Congress, Rodney retained his position as a military leader in the colonial militia…and this was what drew him back to Delaware in June of 1776. He had just finished voting on an important resolution for independence in Congress when he was notified that there was a threatened uprising among those loyal to the king living in Sussex County, Delaware.

The final vote in Philadelphia on whether or not to adopt the Declaration of Independence was approaching and delegate Thomas McKean was beginning to panic. He knew that delegate George Read would vote “Nay” to independence. If there were only two votes from Delaware, they would cancel each other out. Delaware needed Rodney’s third vote for the majority. McKean was desperate and he sent a messenger to retrieve Rodney.
Caesar Rodney Statue, Rodney Square, Wilmington, Delaware

Rodney received the message on the evening of July 1. He left immediately for Philadelphia, 80 miles away

According to Russ Picket (russpicket.com), it was an “agonizing ride” through a severe thunderstorm, terrible heat, over mud-filled roads and across swollen creeks. All the while, Rodney suffered from asthma and the pain of a cancerous tumor on his face.

He arrived in Philadelphia on the afternoon of July 2, in time for the Congressional vote.

Rodney continued to serve his new country. He held the office of Speaker to the Upper House of the Delaware Assembly until the day he died, June 26, 1784.

Rodney never received proper treatment for his cancer. He put aside his personal pain to save his country. He was truly a hero, not just of Delaware, but of the United States.


Watch this interesting depiction of the arrival of Caesar Rodney to Congress, from the musical “1776.”  Click here.






18 comments:

  1. Hi Elaine--

    (I think CQ gals sometimes need gentle reminders--glad you let us know about this on the loop!)

    I am also very glad you mentioned the cancer Rodney suffered with, yet what a brave and determined man who used the time God gave him to accomplish such great things. Thank you for this inspiring post!

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    1. Pat, I need gentle reminders all the time! We all get so busy. But I am so touched by Caesar's story, I didn't want anyone to miss learning about him. His memory seems overshadowed by the larger figures who helped birth our country, yet without, Caesar, the vote never would have carried unanimously. I had to mention his cancer because this was no small sacrifice the man made, serving his country. I'm so glad that Delaware honors his memory, but all Americans should. Thanks for coming by!

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  2. So many unsung heroes from that era. He's one I did not know about. I wonder what sort of treatment would have been deemed proper for such a tumor at that time?

    Does anyone know?

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    1. Lori, I think Pat is correct in her answer below that excision (without anesthesia—horror!) was their basic cure. In "Every Man His Own Doctor," it states that the hard lump must be "cut clean out." Then a concoction of Sassafras Root and Dogwood Root, strain the concoction, then soak a "pledget" (like a gauze made of linen lint, I believe) to soak the wound every day. The doctor/author basically says sometimes it works and sometimes not. It sounded like Caesar was too busy for such concoctions. :(

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  3. What a good and faithful servant. I can only imagine God's welcoming him home! Thanks Elaine!

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    1. You're welcome, Carrie. Such an inspiring man!

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  4. Elaine, what an informative and entertaining post! And I loved the video at the end. Thank you for bring Ceasar to my attention. What a heroic patriot he was. From the video, he was a little man but so big in character. It was great to learn about this admirable, brave hero from out country's history. Thank you, Elaine! So sad about the way he died.

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    1. I love that video, too, Lisa! It really dramatized so well an amazing moment in our history. Yes, he was frail in body but strong in spirit! Thanks for coming by and yes, so sad about his early death.

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  5. When I saw the movie "John Adams", his daughter suffered from breast cancer (tumor) and the doctor did a complete mastectomy without the use of a pain killer (or very little) from what I could gather from the reaction of her parents, John & Abigail and what they seemed to have heard during her surgery.

    I believe they knew what cancer may have been, but very little beyond that. I would imagine they may have excised Rodney's tumor too, as he had few portraits done (because of the "scarring").

    All of the Declaration's signers (and their families) ended up facing incredible odds/tragedies for their treason to the crown.

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    1. Pat, that scene in "John Adams" is excruciating! I think they gave her laudanum before but still... I talked about one cancer cure in a previous reply. That dreaded disease has long been with us. And I need to read the stories of all the signers. I've heard it is quite tragic. What a sacrifice.

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  6. This is my first introduction to Rodney's story. Fascinating! Yet I wonder how many (how few?) Deleware residents know of him.

    Thanks Elaine. And, as Pat suggests, there must be amazing stories for each signer.

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    1. I wonder as well, Debra. There may be many a resident of Delaware that does not know his story but I think the state is trying to keep his memory alive, from the numbers of places that are named after him. I hope that they continue to teach the children about him in their history books. He certainly deserves their recognition.

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  7. Elaine, thank you so much for that post. I cried (again) when I watched the u-tube segment. I am always reminded how the formation of our nation was divinely orchestrated. It is humbling and it grieves me to witness the apathy or ignorance of so many Americans who are not willing to fight to preserve our freedoms.

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    1. I'm crying with you, Janet, at the dramatization as well as the current apathy and ignorance. Let us bear the torch to keep the light of truth glowing brightly.

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  8. Great post, Elaine. I saw this short educational film about him once that was done in the 50's. Wish I could find it and share.

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    1. I would love to see that film, Carla! If you find it, please let us all know!

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  9. What an inspiration. And the video made me tear up. I often wonder, if called upon, could I sacrifice so much? Could I brave the elements, bad health, the anger of my foes, and possible death of myself or those I love? I would probably be shaking in my boots, praying for God to give me strength and guide my path.

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  10. Susan, I wonder the same thing. I pray that, whatever my future holds, that I will be willing to do whatever I need to, in order to follow the path God wants me to take. I trust that He will give ALL of us the strength, should we be called upon to stand up for what's right.

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