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Page 4

Caesar Rodney


Caesar Rodney: From the National Statuary Hall Collection
Caesar Rodney: From the National Statuary Hall Collection
   About this time, Mr. Rodney, in consequence of ill health, was obliged to relinquish his public duties, and seek medical advice in the city of Philadelphia. A cancerous affection had some time previously made its appearance on his nose, and was fast spreading itself over one side of his face. Fortunately, the skill of the physicians of Philadelphia afforded him considerable relief, and deterred him from making a voyage to England to seek professional advice in that country. In 1769, Mr. Rodney was elected speaker of the house of representatives, an office which he continued to fill for several years. About the same time he was appointed chairman of the committee of correspondence with the other colonies. In the discharge of the duties of this latter office, he communicated with gentlemen of great influence in all parts of the country, and by the intelligence which he received from them, and which he communicated to his constituents, contributed to that union of sentiment which, at length, enabled the colonies to achieve their independence.

   Among the persons which composed the well known congress of 1774, Mr. Rodney was one, having for his colleagues the gentlemen already named, viz. Thomas M'Kean and George Read. The instructions given to this delegation required them to consult and determine upon such measures as might appear most wise for the colonies to adopt, in order to obtain relief from the sufferings they were experiencing, on the meeting of this congress, on the fifth of September, in the year already named, Mr. Rodney appeared and took his seat. He was soon after appointed on several important committees, in the discharge of which he exhibited great fidelity, and as a reward for his services he received the thanks of the provincial assembly, together with a reappointment to the same high station in the following year. He was also appointed to the office of brigadier general in the province.

   At the time that the important question of independence came before congress, Mr. Rodney was absent on a tour into the southern part of Delaware, having for his object to quiet the discontent which prevailed in that section of the country, and to prepare the minds of the people to a change of their government. On the question of independence, his colleagues, Mr. M'Kean and Mr. Read, who were at this time in attendance upon congress, in Philadelphia, were divided. Aware of the importance of an unanimous vote of the states in favor of a declaration of independence, and acquainted with the views of Mr. Rodney, Mr. M'Kean dispatched a special messenger to summon him to be present in his seat on the occurrence of the trying question. With great effort, Mr. Rodney reached Philadelphia just in time to give his vote, and thus to secure an entire unanimity in that act of treason. In the autumn of 1776, a convention was called in Delaware, for the purpose of framing a new constitution, and of appointing delegates to the succeeding congress. In this convention there was a majority opposed to Mr. Rodney, who was removed from congress, and another appointed in his stead. Such ingratitude on the part of a people was not common during the revolutionary struggle. In the present instance, the removal of this gentleman was principally attributable to the friends of the royal government, who were quite numerous, especially in the lower counties, and who contrived to enlist the prejudices of some true republicans in accomplishing their object.

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Last modified January 1, 2004