|Risk / July 1-2, 1776|
| Caesar Rodney, Delaware's best known personality and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born near Dover in 1728.
Rodney had the distinction of being sheriff of Kent County, member of the Delaware Assembly (1761-70, 1772-76), its speaker (1769, 1773-76), and a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress (1765). As a member of the Continental Congress (1774-1776), he was also one of the first to publicly speak out for independence.
He was in Kent County mustering troops - away from proceedings in Philadelphia - when he heard of the dispute between the other two delegates from Delaware on the vote for independence. George Read was against the declaration. Thomas McKean was in favor of the split with England and sent Rodney the note that caused his ride. Rodney immediately headed for Philadelphia even though his doctor said the ride could kill him. Caesar Rodney was in a great deal of pain throughout the ride, being afflicted with cancer of the face that had disfigured his features so badly that he was forced to wear a silk veil to prevent upsetting onlookers.
Rodney had 80 miles and a raging storm to ride through, and only half a day to complete the normally 30-hour journey. He traveled the night of July 1-2, arriving in Philadelphia just as the voting was about to begin.
When the vote from Delaware was called, Read voted "nay", McKean voted "aye", and Rodney, still in his riding clothes and wearing spurs, rose and said: "As I believe the voice of my constituents and of all sensible and honest men is in favor of independence, my judgement concurs with them; I vote for independence."
Caesar Rodney became the General in charge of the Delaware militia until 1778, when he was elected President (Governor) of Delaware. After his term he was elected state legislator and served for two years, until his cancer weakened him so much that he succumbed in 1784. He was 56.
Caesar Rodney was buried on his farm near Dover.
For his bravery, leadership, endurance and steadfastness in the face of daunting circumstances; for his sacrifice and the risk to life, family and fortune he assumed for the greater good; for rising above his own personal affliction, Caesar Rodney is a most suitable American hero and namesake for our school and district. We are proud to call him our own.
|Risk / July 1-2, 1776
1998 Oil Painting by Eddy Seger
Art & Drama Teacher
Caesar Rodney High School
Private Collection of Dr. David E. Robinson, Superintendent