This True Story About One Delaware Hero Is Nearly Unbelievable
Delaware’s history is full of fascinating stories and tidbits that we learn about in school, and when we visit our state’s historic places. One story that often gets overlooked is the tale of Caesar Rodney. Sure, lots of things in Delaware are named after the guy — but do you know about the midnight ride that made him a hero?
If you've ever found yourself in Rodney Square, you might have wondered just what the name means.
The statue at the heart of the square depicts a brave colonial rider galloping onwards, and a plaque beneath his hooves tells a story of Revolutionary courage.
On the evening of July 1, 1776, a strong storm rolled into the Mid-Atlantic area. Continental Congressman and Dover native Caesar Rodney soon found out that the fate of the nation may be resting on his shoulders.
Rodney had been in Sussex County, attending to Loyalist activity down south. Throughout his tenure in Delaware, the state was divided between those seeking to remain with the Crown, and Americans who wanted to fight for their independence.
Word came through to Rodney from Thomas McKean that he and George Read were undecided. Rodney knew that the future of our country depending on his ability to get to Philadelphia and cast the deciding vote for Delaware.
Rodney saddled up his horse, strapped on his spurs, and made his way up to Philadelphia. From Dover, his 70-mile ride meant he cantered on through the night. He arrived just in time — the voting was beginning when he barged in, still wearing his boots and spurs.
Rodney and McKean voted together to break the tie, and Delaware was one of 12 states voting in favor of independence on July 2, 1776. As you know, the wording was approved two days later — on July 4th.
It took a few weeks to track down all the delegates, but Rodney once again made his way to Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence on August 2nd, 1776. The decision was not entirely welcomed when he returned home — in fact, his vote for our freedom cost him his job and he was not re-elected.
So next time you're in Rodney Square for dinner, a play, or some other entertainment, walk over to the statue and take it all in.
Now that you know the story of Caesar Rodney's midnight ride, you'll appreciate it so much more. Delaware is truly full of history!
Delaware history is so interesting to me. As one of the original colonies and the First State, there’s so much to learn about our past. For more of the best history lessons you’ll hear in Delaware, read
9 Insane Things That Happened In Delaware You Won’t Find in History Books.
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