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Caesar Rodney

Caesar Rodney (October 7, 1728 - June 29, 1784), was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Delaware.

Caesar Rodney was born on his family's farm near Dover, Delaware. He was educated at home. When Rodney's father died when he was 17 years old, he was placed under the guardianship of Nicholas Ridgely, under whose guidance he entered politics. Under the royal government, he became High Sheriff of Kent County, Delaware in 1755, and later was appointed to a series of positions including registrar of wills, recorder of deeds, clerk of the orphan's court, and justice of the peace. He was elected to the colonial legislature in 1758, and served there from 1758-1770 and from 1771-1776, when it was dissolved. He was a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765, a member of the Delaware Committee of Correspondence, and a leader in the militia, and served in the Continental Congress in from 1774-1777. He was President of the State of Delaware from 1778-1780, during which time he also served as Major-General of the Delaware Militia. Rodney was elected to the national Congress in 1782, but declined due to ill health. Rodney served as a member of the Upper House of the State Assembly from 1776-1784, in which office he died.

Rodney had asthma as well as skin cancer of the face, but did not allow these afflictions to interfere with his service to his state. When he received word from Thomas McKean that the Delaware delegation was deadlocked on the vote for Independence, Rodney rode eighty miles through a thunderstorm on the night of July 1, 1776 to break the tie and allow Delaware to vote in favor of the Declaration. McKean later remembered meeting Rodney at the door in "in his boots and spurs." John Adams described Rodney as "the oddest looking man in the world; he is tall, thin and slender as a reed, pale; his face is not bigger than a large apple, yet there is sense and fire, spirit, wit and humor in this countenance."

Rodney is said to have held more public offices than any other Delawarean, and the state is littered with schools, streets, squares and buildings named in his honor. Rodney's statue, along with that of John Middleton Clayton, represents Delaware in the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol , and Delaware chose to use the image of his famous ride on the back of the Delaware State Quarter in 1999.