The Declaration of Independence is probably one of our nation’s most prized possessions. I learned last Sunday in Dr. Ken Hamilton’s Sunday school class just how close the “Declaration” was passed by the Continental Congress. You see, when our Forefathers meet in Independence Hall to pass the historic document in Philadelphia, it wasn’t the “slam-dunk” vote I always thought it was to declare our independence from the Tierney of the overbearing rule from the King of England. As we all know there were thirteen states at the birth of our nation. At the meeting each got a single vote to decide whether to declare our independence or not from England. There were twelve delegates at the meeting, with one state not yet represented, Delaware.
That is where Ceaser Rodney comes in. Rodney lived near Dover, Delaware. His Father died when he was just seventeen and he was put in the care of Nicholas Ridgely who was a clerk of the peace in Kent County. It is thought that this is where Rodney’s interest in politics got started. In 1755, under the royal government, Rodney was commissioned High Sheriff of Kent County Delaware. He was to represent Delaware in the meeting of the Continental congress in 1776. Rodney was a sickly sort of man, always having some sort of issue with his health. He had some type of malignant growth on the side of his face. He had been told by Doctors that he would have to sail back to England to get the malignancy treated or he would surely die. When the time for the Continental Congress meeting came around Rodney was once again sick in bed. Yet he knew he had to make that historic meeting in Philadelphia. In fact this is where I found out just what kind of national hero Rodney was to our nation.
Even though he was sick and so many people thought he would not make it to the meeting, Rodney forced himself out of bed and got his riding cloths on. He rode his horse the whole way to Philadelphia in a driving rain storm, getting even sicker by the minute. At the meeting the states had started the discussion and voting as to whether these United States were going to declare their independence from England or not. Of the state’s present, six had voted to declare our independence and six had voted not to declare our independence. It was a virtual tie, a deadlock, a stalemate. The birth of this great nation was on hold, the large double doors swung open and a little man with a huge heart stumbled into the room. He was asked immediately, “Mr. Rodney, how does the State of Delaware vote?” His reply was, “The State of Delaware votes yes.” He broke the tie and started the wheels of a great nation turning. He then promptly collapsed on the floor of Independence Hall.
You see, Rodney knew what was best for the people he represented back in Delaware and what was best for us all in this nation. That was the right to our freedom and independence. The opportunity to build a nation where its people were treated fairly and all had the chance to excel and be the best they could be. You know when Rodney made that “Yes” vote; he knew there would never be any trip back to England to cure the malignancy on his face. Once again, we have an example of one of our forefathers sacrificing their needs for the sake of this great nation.
While you are out enjoying the festivities of the FreedomFest, remember those who put their lives on the line throughout the history of our great nation so we can celebrate our independence. Have a happy Fourth of July.