Caesar Rodney

Born: October 7, 1728 at Kent County, Delaware
Died: June 26, 1784 (aged 55) at Kent County, Delaware
Spouse: He never married

Offices held:
President of Delaware (1778 – 1781)
Continental Congressman from Delaware (1774 – 1776)

Facts about Caesar Rodney

Rodney is best remembered for his overnight ride from Dover, Delaware, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to cast the deciding vote for the Declaration of Independence in the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776. The image of Rodney on horseback riding for Philadelphia appears on the Delaware quarter, issued in 1999.

In 1755 Rodney was elected Sheriff of Kent County and served for three years. During his tenure he acquired much wealth. Once the voting for independence concluded and debate resumed, Rodney is remembered for puncturing the self-importance of the Virginia delegates who believed they were the mighty rock on which independence rested.””Let [Virginia] be of good cheer,”” he said, “”she has a friend in need; Delaware will take her under its protection and insure her safety.””

Throughout the American Revolutionary War, Caesar Rodney served as Brigadier General of Delawares militia. His natural charisma allowed him to influence much of Delawares politics and his relentless devotion to the cause changed Delawares political landscape.

Caesar was tormented throughout his life by asthma, and his adult years were plagued by a facial cancer. He experienced expensive, painful, and futile medical treatments on the cancer. Caesar would wear a green scarf to hide his disfigured face. The disease would kill him in eight years.

Caesar Rodney Childhood

Caesar Rodney was born in 1728 on his family’s farm, “”Byfield””, on St. Jones Neck in East Dover Hundred, Kent County, Delaware. Caesar was the eldest of son of eight children of Caesar and Elizabeth Crawford Rodney and grandson of William Rodney. William Rodney Caesars grandfather, William Rodney, emigrated to this country in 1681-82, along with William Penn. Speaker of the Colonial Assembly of the Delaware Counties in 1704. Rodney’s mother was the daughter of the Rev. Thomas Crawford, Anglican rector of Christ Church at Dover.

Among the Rodney family ancestors were the prominent Adelmare family in Treviso, Italy, as attested by genealogy studies. Byfield was an 800-acre (320 ha) prosperous farm, worked by slaves. With the addition of other adjacent properties, the Rodneys were, by the standards of the day, wealthy members of the local gentry. The plantation grew to 1,000 acres, and owned 200 slaves earned Sufficient income from the sale of wheat and barley to the Philadelphia and West Indies market to provide enough cash and leisure to allow members of the family to participate in the social and political life of Kent County.

Caesar was educated when he was 13 or 14 years old. He attended the Latin School School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania until his fathers death. Caesar was the only one of the Rodney children to receive anything approaching a formal education. At the age of 17 and upon the death of his father in 1746, Caesar’s guardianship was entrusted to Nicholas Ridgely by the Delaware Orphan’s Court.

He never married and had no children. It is significant and remarkable that in all historic sources, there is virtually nothing that reflects discredit on him at any time.

Where is Caesar Rodney buried?

His body is buried at an unmarked grave on his beloved farm, Poplar Grove (known as Byfield today). Many sources cite that he is buried there, however most Delaware historians believe that the remains of one of Rodney’s unidentified relatives is buried there instead. Rodney actually is buried in an unmarked grave in his family’s unmarked plot on their former 800-acre farm east of Dover Air Force Base.

How did Caesar Rodney die?

Caesar Rodney died at age 56 at his home near Dover on June 26, 1784. He was seriously ill (asthma, facial cancer) and fragile all of his life, especially in the later years.”

Caesar RODNEY Biography

RODNEY, Caesar, (brother of Thomas Rodney, uncle of Caesar Augustus Rodney, and cousin of George Brydges Rodney), a Delegate from Delaware; born in Dover, Del., October 7, 1728; completed preparatory studies; engaged in agricultural pursuits; high sheriff of Kent County 1755-1758; justice of the peace; judge of all lower courts; captain in the Kent County Militia in 1756; superintendent of the printing of Delaware currency in 1759; member of the state assembly 1762-1769; superintendent of the loan office in 1769; associate justice of the Delaware Supreme Court 1769-1777; Member of the Continental Congress 1774-1776; a signer of the Declaration of Independence; served in the Revolutionary Army as a brigadier general; elected President of Delaware and served from 1778 to 1782; elected to the Continental Congress in 1782 and 1783 but did not serve; died in Dover, Del., June 26, 1784; interment on his farm, Byfield, near Dover; reinterment in Christ Churchyard, Dover, Del.


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