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Caesar Rodney - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Sunday, January 12, 2020

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Birth: October 7, 1728
Death: June 26, 1784 (age 55)
Colony: Delaware
Occupation: Plantation Owner, Soldier, Politician, Judge
Significance: Signed The Declaration of Independence (at the age of 47); and served as President of the State of Delaware (1778-1781)

Caesar Rodney

Caesar Rodney was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Born in the Lower Counties of Pennsylvania (now known as Delaware) to a prominent family, Rodney's family managed one of the largest plantations in Delaware. Rodney was educated in Philadelphia at the Latin School before returning to Delaware at the age of 17 to manage his family's plantation after his father's death.

In Delaware, Rodney also became a powerful political figure and held many political positions within the state's government, including as an Associate Justice on Delaware's Colonial Supreme Court. Rodney joined the Delaware Militia during the French and Indian War, and he became a leading voice against what he perceived as British overreach in the years that followed the French and Indian War.

During this time, Rodney also served within the Delaware Assembly and was a leader within the Delaware State Government. As tensions between the American Colonies and Great Britain began to grow, Rodney was chosen to represent Delaware at the Stamp Tax Congress in 1765, and then in 1774, Rodney was voted to be one Delaware's representatives to the First Continental Congress.

The following year, in 1775, Rodney was re-elected and served in the Second Continental Congress. Rodney voted for Independence, and he signed The Declaration of Independence. After signing The Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776, Rodney went on to serve in the Continental Army until he was once again elected to the Continental Congress in 1777. In 1778, Rodney was elected as the President of the state of Delaware (an equivalent position to Governor today). As President of Delaware, Rodney also served as the Major-General of Delaware's Militia, and he managed the state's defense against the British. Rodney held the position as President of Delaware until 1781, when declining health caused him to resign.

In 1782 and 1783, Rodney was elected to the Continental Congress (Congress of the Confederation) but never took his seat due to poor health. In 1784, Rodney was elected to the Delaware Legislative Council, and he was named speaker, but he died in June of 1784 before he could complete his term.

Caesar Rodney in Philadelphia

Rodney first lived in Philadelphia as a child, as he was educated in the city at the Latin School. Later, Rodney served as a Delegate of Delaware to the First Continental Congress which met at Carpenters' Hall in September 1774.

In 1775, Rodney again represented Delaware as a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress. While serving as a member of the Second Continental Congress, Rodney worked at Independence Hall, and he signed The Declaration of Independence. A plaque commemorating Rodney for signing The Declaration of Independence can be found on Signers' Walk on the 600 block of Chestnut Street (between 5th and 6th Streets). Signers' Garden pays tribute to the Founding Fathers, including those such as Rodney who signed The Declaration of Independence. Carpenter's Hall, Independence Hall, Signers' Walk and Signers' Garden are all stops visited along The Constitutional Walking Tour!



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