Progressives have been extremely successful in degrading our country’s beginning and the Founding Fathers. They have vilified courageous and heroic men such as Caesar Rodney because the only way to rebuild the country as a socialist/communist utopia, they have to destroy its true foundation. To accomplish that, stories like Rodney’s must be exterminated. Which is why it is imperative we refuse to let them die. Truth will always win, Liberty. So, we can’t forget the men who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to give us freedom. If we do, then that shame is on us.
That’s my 2 cents.
As Rodney raced through the night, Dickinson deeply contemplated his position. Word had reached Congress that Hessians had arrived, sent by King George to support the British. For America to gain any help from the French, it was imperative she break from Britain and they must do it now. Still holding to his principles, Dickinson appreciated the colonies’ dilemma. Therefore, when the delegates assembled at Independence Hall on July 2, 1776, he was not among the attendees. As a result, the remaining Pennsylvania delegates would place their colony in the “Independence” column. However, without Rodney, Delaware was still a concern.
McKean nervously waited as the time for the vote drew closer and closer. Strong storms plagued the night, so travel would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible. Then, like a knight arriving on his prized stallion, McKean looked out the window to notice Rodney riding up. Jumping up, he met Rodney at the door who was still “in his boots and spurs.”
Sick, exhausted and still in wet clothes, Rodney took his seat at his desk. As Rodney cast his vote, he declared, “As I believe the voice of my constituents and of all sensible and honest men is in favor of independence, my own judgment concurs with them. I vote for independence.”
With that, Congress achieved their unanimous vote for independence. It was essential those signing the agreed, because by doing so, they were signing their death warrant. If America had lost the war, they would have been executed for treason.
Inspired by the vote, John Adams wrote his wife, Abigail, "The second day of July 1776…ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever.” (see ) However, even though delegates voted to declare independence, they wanted some time to debate Thomas Jefferson’s document. Therefore, the party would have to wait until the final version, edited by the delegates and Jefferson himself, was approved on July 4. (see )
One of Jefferson’s original drafts included a detailed paragraph rejecting King George III forcing slavery on the colonies. He criticized the king for not only enslaving an innocent people, but for also terminating the colony’s every attempt to abolish it. Jefferson furthered his verbal thrashing by denouncing the king for then turning those people that he enslaved against the very persons desiring their freedom.
“He [the King] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium [infamy] of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable [detestable] commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded [forcefully thrust] them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”
Unfortunately, it became apparent South Carolina and Georgia would never agree to this admonishment, threatening the “United Colonies” front and again jeopardizing the unanimous support for independence. Therefore, Jefferson reluctantly removed the paragraph regarding the king making the colonies slaves to slavery. Regardless, the document agreed upon by the founders still represented an unprecedented declaration, proclaiming man’s rights are from our Creator and “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” (see )
As with the vote for independence, Dickinson refused to vote on Jefferson’s as well, stating, “My conduct this day, I expect will give the finishing blow to my once too great and, my integrity considered, now too diminished popularity.” Benjamin Franklin expressed the seriousness of the situation, stating, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” Therefore, any delegate who did not sign the could not remain in Congress, forfeiting their right to be a Founding Father. With integrity and grace, Dickinson resigned voluntarily and proceeded to join the Pennsylvania militia. Upon his departure, Adams commented, “Mr. Dickinson’s alacrity [cheerfulness] and spirit certainly become his character and sets a fine example.”
July 2, 2018
One of the most notable stories of the Revolutionary War is Paul Revere’s ride from Boston shouting, “The British are coming! The British are coming!” However, another midnight ride happened two years later that was just as impactful, if not more so.
Just before midnight, Caesar awoke to a pounding on his door. “Mr. Rodney, Mr. Rodney. You are needed immediately.” Caesar opened the door to see an exhausted young man trying to catch his breath.
“Mr. Rodney, Mr. McKean sent me. Your vote is desperately needed tomorrow. Please come as soon as you can.”
Within moments, Caesar was dressed and running out the door. Jumping on his horse, he wrapped his scarf around his neck, then took off into the night. He had 80 miles to cover from his Delaware home to Philadelphia and time was of the essence.
Caesar Rodney was one of three delegates from Delaware at the Continental Congress. It was no secret Delaware was split between Loyalists to the king and Patriots desiring independence. Regardless, Rodney had served with Thomas McKean and George Read in other governmental capacities and was convinced both of the other men would vote for independence. Rodney believed his absence during the Congressional session was inconsequential. However, Read changed his mind during the straw poll and voted against it. Without Rodney there, Delaware was left with a split delegation. Congress insisted on a unanimous decision from the colonies since the men were pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor on the treasonous declaration. Therefore, Rodney’s vote became imperative.
McKean immediately dispatched a messenger to Rodney’s home in Delaware, as Rodney was tending to other obligations. Plus, Rodney not only suffered from severe asthma, he had a cancer on his face and jaw. He often wore a scarf to cover the marks it left. Regardless, even sickness and fatigue would not stop Rodney from getting to Philadelphia to cast his vote.
Colonies in New England and the South were solidly for independence. Several middle colonies had been a concern, yet following the release of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, many changed their minds towards independence. (see ) While Rodney raced to secure Delaware, John Dickinson of Pennsylvania was also putting Pennsylvania’s vote in jeopardy. Dickinson was an opponent of declaring independence at this time, still hoping for reconciliation. He advocated for finalizing the , allowing the government to set up foreign alliances before breaking from England. As part of the delegation that sent their written grievances to the king in October of 1774, Dickinson wanted to continue on the road of non-violence despite the Red Coats attacking Lexington and Concord and Lord Dunmore confiscating gunpowder at Williamsburg. (see , and ) On the other hand, Rodney saw the events at Boston as, “Now one was neither Tory nor Whig; it was either dependence or independence.”
THE FORGOTTEN MIDNIGHT RIDE
Liberty, Caesar Rodney traveled 14 hours through torrential rains, navigating through fords, over bridges, and on ferries to cross over at least 15 waterways, to make it Philadelphia. It is believed he was informed of a doctor in London who could have helped his condition. However, by supporting independence, an act of treason, Rodney was giving up an opportunity to better his future to give liberty and freedom to an entire nation. Likewise, Dickinson knew his vote would endanger unity among the colonies, who overwhelmingly desired independence. Instead of forcing his opinion on the rest, he respectfully removed himself from the situation, refusing to stand in the way. Both men, in their own way, displayed selflessness and virtue.