Updated: Apr 4
Listen my children, and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of... Caesar Rodney??
That’s right, Paul Revere wasn’t the only one who made a midnight ride during the American Revolution.
But let’s back up a bit.
The date was July 1, 1776. The delegates of the Second Continental Congress cast their votes either for or against becoming independent from Great Britain. The vote must be unanimous for it to happen, but on this day the vote came in with only 9 colonies in favor of independence. South Carolina and Pennsylvania voted against it, while New York did not vote, and Delaware’s vote was divided.
The final decision was put off until the following day, when another vote would take place. Caesar Rodney, a delegate from Delaware, was not in attendance for the first vote; he was back in Delaware and was suffering from a cancerous tumor on his face. He received word that he needed to quickly make his way to Pennsylvania to cast his vote on July 2. It is said that Caesar Rodney rode on horseback all throughout the night on July 1, during a fierce storm, to make it to Philadelphia just in time to vote.
When the second vote took place, South Carolina and Pennsylvania had changed their votes, New York still did not vote at that time (but would cast their approval a few days later), which left Delaware. With Caesar Rodney, there were now 3 delegates from Delaware. The original 2 were split on their votes, leaving Rodney to break the tie. He voted for independence, making the final vote unanimous among the colonies.
Looking back to this time in history, it may be hard to see why anyone would be against independence. These men were not just casting a vote; their very lives hung in the balance, they were committing treason. As Benjamin Franklin famously put it, “We must indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall hang separately.” After independence was declared, The King ordered for the execution of these men. A few were eventually captured by the British, many had their homes destroyed, some would go on to fight and die in the Revolution.
Our Founding Fathers knew that declaring independence from the most powerful nation would most likely be a death sentence for them, but more importantly, they knew that not doing so would be a death sentence for future generations.
“For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” -Declaration of Independence