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Caesar Rodney: The Tie-Breaker of Independence


Caesar Rodney, one of the lesser-known but significant figures in American history, played a crucial role as a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Born in Dover, Delaware, on October 7, 1728, Rodney was raised in a prominent family with a long tradition of public service. Despite facing personal challenges, including health issues that plagued him throughout his life, Rodney emerged as a dedicated patriot and statesman during the turbulent years leading up to the American Revolution.


Rodney's early career in public service began in the Delaware Assembly, where he served as sheriff of Kent County and later as a justice of the peace. His commitment to public service and his dedication to the cause of liberty became evident as tensions between the American colonies and Great Britain escalated. Rodney became increasingly involved in the revolutionary movement, serving as a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 and later as a member of the Continental Congress.


One of Rodney's most notable contributions to the American cause came on July 1, 1776, when he made a dramatic ride from Dover to Philadelphia to break a tie in the Delaware delegation's vote on independence. Despite suffering from cancer and enduring a grueling journey through inclement weather, Rodney arrived just in time to cast his vote in favor of independence. His decisive action ensured that Delaware would join the other colonies in declaring independence from British rule.


Rodney's commitment to the cause of independence extended beyond his vote in Congress. He served with distinction as a brigadier general in the Delaware militia, leading troops in several key battles during the Revolutionary War. His leadership and bravery on the battlefield earned him the respect and admiration of his fellow soldiers and commanders.


After the war, Rodney continued to serve his state and nation in various capacities. He was elected president (governor) of Delaware in 1778 and again in 1781, overseeing the state's transition to independence and its early years as a sovereign state. Rodney also played a role in the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, serving as a delegate to the Delaware ratifying convention in 1787.

Despite his many contributions to the cause of American independence, Rodney's legacy has often been overshadowed by more prominent figures of the era. However, his bravery, dedication, and selflessness in the face of adversity exemplify the qualities of leadership and patriotism that helped to secure America's freedom.


Caesar Rodney passed away on June 26, 1784, leaving behind a legacy of service and sacrifice that continues to inspire generations of Americans. His name may not be as well-known as some of his contemporaries, but his contributions to the cause of liberty are no less significant. As a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a patriot who risked his life for the cause of freedom, Caesar Rodney will always hold a revered place in the annals of American history.


Submitted by Raymond E. Foster

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