Declaration of Independence Signer. Born on a farm near Dover, Delaware, Caesar Rodney attended school briefly, but was taught at home by his mother. His father died when Caesar was 17, and as the oldest son, he took over the family farm, helping his mother to raise his six younger brothers and sisters. Thanks to his inheritance, he decided to devote a large portion of his life to public service. In 1755, he was chosen Sheriff for Kent County, Delaware. Over the next twenty years, he served as clerk of the Orphans' Court and served in the Delaware Congress. He was so highly respected that he was appointed to Delaware's Supreme Court, even though he had not studied law. Early on, Rodney supported the patriotic cause for independence. In 1774, he was selected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress, and again, for the Second Continental Congress. In 1776, he was suffering from cancer of the jaw, and returned to his home near Dover, Delaware. When the vote for independence neared, delegate Thomas McKean sent him a message to return immediately to the Continental Congress. Despite illness and a cold drizzling rain, he rode all night for 80 miles to Philadelphia, arriving just in time to vote. His vote for independence was absolutely critical, as the Delaware delegation was equally split between independence and remaining British, and Rodney's vote put Delaware squarely on the side of independence, two votes to one. After the Declaration of Independence, Rodney would recruit men to serve in the American Army, and even fought in the Army himself. From the spring of 1778 to late 1781, he served as Delaware's Governor. He died in June 1784, in his home in Dover, Delaware. Caesar Rodney never married. His younger brother, Thomas, whom he had helped raise, became a Delaware lawmaker and judge. Caesar also helped to raise Thomas's son, Caesar Augustus Rodney, who served as US Attorney General from 1807 to 1811.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson