Caesar Rodney – Cool Considerate Men Think It Amounts To A Declaration Of Independence
One of my favorite books is Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (Volume 1). From this book I have quoted below excerpts of four letters from Caesar Rodney to his brother, Thomas Rodney. They start in June of 1775 and end with a letter on July 4th, 1776. These give a great little glimpse of Mr. Rodney’s work in the Congress.
The first letter discusses the use of paper money to defray “the expenses of defending our Constitution, Rights and privileges.” This is government creating money. The 12 colonies would each bear part of backing this created money.
The first letter also announces the appointment of several generals in the military, most notably George Washington, as “General and Commander in Chief of all the Colony forces.”
In May of 1776 Mr. Rodney sent his brother a “printed Copy of the Resolution of Congress.” He states that “those here who are termed the Cool Considerate Men think it amounts to a declaration of Independence.”
Then on July 4th, 1776, Mr. Rodney writes his brother to inform him that he was able to “give [his] Voice in the matter of Independence.” The Declaration will be printed and he will “soon have the pleasure of seeing it.” It will be read and proclaimed in all the cities and towns.
Caesar Rodney to Thomas RodneyPhila. June the 20th. 1775
. . . . I can now let you into a part of our proceedings in Congress. We have ordered 2 millions of dollars to be struck here as a Continental paper Currency for the defraying the expenses of defending our Constitution, Rights and privileges. the money is to be sunk by all the 12 colonies in 7 years according to their quotas which are settled in proportion to the number of inhabitants in each Colony. . . . . We have appointed Col. George Washington, General and Commander in Chief of all the Colony forces, Gen Ward, (now with the army before Boston) to be Majr. Genl. and second in command. Gen Lee a Major Genl. and 3rd. in command, Col. Skeiler a Major Genl. and 4th. in command and Col. Putnam a Major Genl. and 5th. in command. All the Brigd. Genls Cols. Lt. Cols. Majors etc. are confirmed according to their appointments by the colonies where the troops they command were raised. . . . .Caesar Rodney to Thomas RodneyPhiladelphia May 17th 1776.
Inclosed I have Sent you the printed Copy of the Resolution of Congress mentioned in my last. Most of those here who are termed the Cool Considerate Men think it amounts to a declaration of Independence. It Certainly savours of it, but you will see and Judge for Your Self. . . . .Caesar Rodney to Thomas RodneyPhila. May, the 22nd, 1776.
. . . . One of our Rifle men that travelled across the country with Arnold and taken prisoner while on sentry at Quebec was sent to England. A few days after he landed he was sent to London and put in Bridewell in irons. Sawbridge (the Lord Mayor) went to him, examined him and had him immediately discharged and sent down to Bristol where a number of Gentlemen pronounced [procured?] him a passage to Halifax. He left Bristol the 24th of March, arrived in this city the day before yesterday and tho’ searched at Halifax 2 or 3 times brought undiscovered a number of letters and news papers to the Congress by which we are possessed of all their plans for the destruction of America. . . . .Caesar Rodney to Thomas RodneyPhilada. July the 4th 1776.
. . . . I arrived in Congress (tho detained by thunder and Rain) time Enough to give my Voice in the matter of Independence. It is determined by the Thirteen United Colonies, without even one decenting Colony. We have now Got through with the Whole of the declaration, and Ordered it to be printed, so that you will soon have the pleasure of seeing it. Hand-bills of it will be printed, and sent to the Armies, Cities, County Towns etc. To be published or rather proclaimed in form. Don’t Neglect to Attend Closely and Carefully to my Harvest and You’l obligeYours etc.Caesar RodneyEdmund Cody Burnett. Letters of Members of the Continental Congress. The Carnegie Institution of Washington. 1921
Caesar Rodney, (brother of Thomas Rodney, uncle of Caesar Augustus Rodney, and cousin of George Brydges Rodney), a Delegate from Delaware; born in Dover, Del., October 7, 1728; completed preparatory studies; engaged in agricultural pursuits; high sheriff of Kent County 1755-1758; justice of the peace; judge of all lower courts; captain in the Kent County Militia in 1756; superintendent of the printing of Delaware currency in 1759; member of the state assembly 1762-1769; superintendent of the loan office in 1769; associate justice of the Delaware Supreme Court 1769-1777; Member of the Continental Congress 1774-1776; a signer of the Declaration of Independence; served in the Revolutionary Army as a brigadier general; elected President of Delaware and served from 1778 to 1782; elected to the Continental Congress in 1782 and 1783 but did not serve; died in Dover, Del., June 26, 1784; interment on his farm, “Byfield,” near Dover; reinterment in Christ Churchyard, Dover, Del.