Our nation’s history and the history of God are filled with accounts of how one person has the power to affect the destiny of a nation. Caesar Rodney was just such a person. In his story we find out just how important one vote can be. For each of us, it’s our God-given right, our privilege, and our solemn responsibility to cast our one vote—to make our voice heard.
Caesar Rodney’s legacy is of a single vote which echoes loudly throughout history.
Caesar Rodney was just one voice. History books scarcely mention his name. He didn’t enjoy the notoriety of Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin. Yet, if you listen today, his voice still echoes from sea to shining sea.
Caesar Rodney’s signature is one of the 56 affixed to our Declaration of Independence. But how it got there is a reminder of the power of a single voice…and a lesson in personal responsibility.
It was the summer of 1776, and the delegates to the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia had taken a preliminary vote on the proposed resolution for independence. Twelve of the 13 colonies had either abstained or voted for the resolution. But Delaware’s vote was split because Caesar Rodney, one of three delegates from Delaware, was sick with a high fever from malignant cancer.
Recognizing that it would surely mean a bloody war with England, delegates had agreed that in order for the resolution to pass the formal vote, the decision had to be unanimous. Any one of the 13 colonies had the power to silence the Declaration.
With the formal vote scheduled for the next day, Rodney’s vote was needed to break the tie. News of the vote made it to his bedside in Dover, Del. Caesar Rodney, feeling the weight of responsibility, rose from his bed, demanded a horse, and began the 80-mile journey.
Early the next afternoon he arrived at Independence Hall just as the vote was being taken. Too weak to dismount and walk inside, he was carried into the Hall of Congress on a stretcher. When General Washington put forth the question, Rodney responded, “I vote for independence.”
And with those words the tie was broken. Independence was declared. Caesar Rodney’s sense of personal responsibility to be present to vote prevented any possible trip to England for treatment of his cancer, which eventually caused his death.
Yet his legacy is of a single vote which echoes loudly throughout history.