Caesar Rodney Statue
In downtown Wilmington, Delaware stands the statue of Delaware’s most cherished patriot, Caesar Rodney. At almost midnight on July 1, 1776, Caesar Rodney was informed that he was needed in Congress regarding Delaware's tied vote of independence. Rodney rode 80 miles horseback to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania without delay. On July 2, 1776, Rodney casted his crucial vote that paved the way for the passage of the Declaration of Independence.
Backstory and Context
On June 30, 1776, the Continental Congress put forward a motion for independence. The debate over the motion of independence continued to July 1, 1776. A vote was held in which nine colonies voted for independence. There were two colonies who against independence (in which was later changed), one colony that abstained from the vote, and another colony, in which was Delaware, was split on its vote. Three delegates, Thomas McKean, George Read and Caesar Rodney, were sent to the Continental Congress by Delaware.
Caesar Rodney was performing duties as Brigadier General of the Delaware militia in which resulted in him not being present June 30 – July 1, 1776. Thus, the vote in Delaware was tied voted was between Mr. Read who voted against independence and Mr. McKean, who voted for independence. Mr. McKean dispatched a rider to notify Rodney of this issue and that he was needed in Congress to vote. At almost midnight on July 1, 1776, Rodney rode 80 miles horseback to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania without delay. On July 2, 1776, Rodney casted his vote for independence in which broke Delaware’s tied vote. This crucial vote ended up paving the way for the passage of the Declaration of Independence.
Caesar Rodney’s vote for independence ended up being considered high treason and caused him to be branded a traitor to the Crown. Rodney suffered from ill health including asthma and cancer of the jaw in which would have made his ride strenuous. “As history records, Caesar Rodney gave up the possibility of receiving medical treatment in London because he voted and pledged his life, fortune and sacred honor for American Independence” (Howell). Rodney’s heroic act was commemorated by a statute and also by his image appearing on the 1999 U.S. Delaware Quarter. Caesar Rodney’s statue stands on Rodney Square in downtown Wilmington, Delaware, honoring him as Delaware’s most cherished patriot.
- Read, George. Caesar Rodney. DSDI. November 30, 2011. Website. http://www.dsdi1776.com/signers-by-state/caesar-rodney/.
- Smithsonian Institution. Caesar Rodney Equestrian Statue (sculpture). Collections Search Center. 2016. Website. http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=record_ID:siris_ari_20716
- Howell, Derek. The Midnight Ride for American Independence. Institute on the Constitution. July 2, 2013. Website. https://www.theamericanview.com/the-midnight-ride-for-american-independence/