CAESAR RODNEY Biography - Military related figures


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Name: Caesar Rodney                                                                 
Born: 7 October 1728 Kent County, Delaware                                         
Died: 25 June 1784 Kent County, Delaware                                           
Caesar Rodney (October 7, 1728 - June 26, 1784), was an American lawyer and         
politician from St. Jones Neck, in Dover Hundred, Kent County, Delaware, east of   
Dover. He was an officer of the Delaware militia during the French and Indian       
War and the American Revolution, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a     
Continental Congressman from Delaware, and President of Delaware during most of     
the American Revolution.                                                           
Caesar Rodney was born October 7, 1728 on his family's farm on St. Jones Neck,     
in Dover Hundred, Kent County, Delaware. The farm, Byfield, is just north of       
John Dickinson's mansion, Poplar Hall. He was the son of Caesar and Mary           
Crawford Rodney, and grandson of William Rodney, who came to America in the 1680s   
and had been Speaker of the Colonial Assembly of the Lower Counties in 1704.       
Among the Rodney family ancestors were the prominent Adelmare family in Treviso,   
Italy. His mother was the daughter of the Rev. Thomas Crawford, the Anglican       
rector of Christ Church at Dover. Byfield was an 800 acre (3.2 kmē) farm, worked   
by a small number of slaves. With the addition of other adjacent properties, the   
Rodney's were, by the standards of the day, wealthy members of the local gentry.   
Sufficient income was earned from the sale of wheat and barley to the               
Philadelphia and West Indies market to provide enough cash and leisure to allow     
members of the family to participate in the social and political life of Kent       
Caesar Rodney was first educated at home, but later attended the Latin School in   
Philadelphia. His father died in 1745, when Caesar was 17 years old, and the       
younger Rodney was placed under the guardianship of Nicholas Ridgely, Clerk of     
the Peace in Kent County. As the eldest son, he ran the family farm for 10 years   
before entering politics. His mother remarried and had two additional children,     
but she died in 1763. Subsequently, Caesar was the primary provider for his         
younger brothers and sisters, and was especially close to his brother, Thomas       
Rodney, and half sister, Sally Wilson, who kept house for him. He never married.   
According to tradition, he courted Mary (Polly) Vining, aunt of later U.S.         
Senator John M. Vining. However, she married the Rev. Charles Inglis, the rector   
of Christ Episcopal Church in Dover, where the family attended church.             
Thomas Rodney described his brother at this time as having a "great fund of wit     
and humor of the pleasing kind, so that his conversation was always bright and     
strong and conducted by wisdom... He always lived a bachelor, was generally         
esteemed, and indeed very popular." Accordingly, he easily moved into the           
political world formerly occupied by his father and guardian. In 1755 he was       
elected Sheriff of Kent County and served the maximum three years allowed. This     
was a powerful and financially rewarding position in that it supervised             
elections and chose the grand jurors who set the county tax rate. After serving     
his three years he was appointed to a series of positions including Register of     
Wills, Recorder of Deeds, Clerk of the Orphan's Court, Justice of the Peace, and   
judge in the lower courts. During the French and Indian War, he was commissioned   
captain of the Dover Hundred company in Col. John Vining's regiment of the         
Delaware militia. They never saw active service. From 1769 through 1777 he was     
an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Lower Counties.                   
Eighteenth century Delaware was politically divided into loose factions known as   
the "Court Party" and the "Country Party." The majority Court Party was             
generally Anglican, strongest in Kent County and Sussex County, worked well with   
the colonial Proprietary government, and were in favor of reconciliation with       
the British government. The minority Country Party was largely Ulster-Scot,         
centered in New Castle County, and quickly advocated independence from the         
British. In spite of being members of the Anglican Kent County gentry, Rodney       
and his brother, Thomas Rodney, increasingly aligned themselves with the Country   
Party, a distinct minority in Kent County. As such he generally worked in           
partnership with Thomas McKean from New Castle County, and in opposition to         
George Read.