Caesar Rodney, Delaware's most well-known personality, was born near Dover in 1728 and died in Dover in 1784.
Rodney had the distinction of being sheriff of Kent County and the speaker of the Delaware delegation against the unfair actions of the King in 1769. He was also one of the first to publicly speak out for independence.
In early July of 1776 he was in Kent County mustering troops when he learned of the dispute between the other two delegates from Delaware on the vote for independence. George Read was against the declaration, however Thomas McKean was for the split with England and sent Rodney the note that led to his famous ride. Upon receiving McKean's message Rodney immediately headed for Philadelphia, even though his doctor said the ride could kill him. Rodney was in a great deal of pain throughout the ride since he was afflicted with a cancer of the face that had disfigured his features so badly that he was forced to wear a silk veil to prevent upsetting anyone who may have seen him.
Rodney had 80 miles to ride and only a half a day to complete a journey which normally took 30 hours. He arrived just as the voting session was about to begin. When the vote from Delaware was asked for, Read voted nay, McKean voted aye, and Rodney, still in his riding clothes and wearing spurs, rose and said: "As I believe the voice of my constituents and of all sensible and honest men is in favor of independence, my judgement concurs with them; I vote for independence."
Caesar Rodney became the General in charge of the Delaware forces until 1778 when he was elected the first President of Delaware. After his term, he was elected as a state legislator and served for two years, until his death from the cancer in 1784 at the age of 56. Caesar Rodney was buried on his farm near Dover. In 1934 Caesar Rodney was chosen to represent Delaware in Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C.
In an era of social justice, we recognize that the legacy of key figures throughout our country’s history can be complicated. Our namesake is no different. We embrace the significant contributions to the formation of our great nation that Caesar Rodney is famous for, while simultaneously acknowledging his participation in the morally reprehensible institution of slavery. Our intent is to celebrate those contributions that significantly led to the formation of the United States of America, and to provide a more comprehensive representation of our namesake, thus providing a platform that does not marginalize the experiences or perceptions of anyone. This decision is one that we know will not make everyone happy, but we also know it is fair to everyone!