July 03, 2018
If you're looking for a good object lesson on this Independence Day to illustrate the price of our freedom and why we must protect this gift which has been entrusted to relatively few people in history, look no further than the jar of coins that sits on your shelf or counter.
Twenty years ago, Congress passed the 50 States Commemorative Coin Program Act which gave each state the ability to design a quarter that would present the unique aspects of each state and provide them with an opportunity to tell their state's story. Appropriately, Delaware was the first state to cash in on the chance to tell their story.
The date of Delaware's statehood of 1787 is at the top of their quarter along with the title of The First State, E Pluribus Unum is located at the bottom, and in the center is the name Caesar Rodney with the image of a man in revolutionary-era attire riding a horse.
Caesar Rodney, called the first among the citizens of Delaware, is the man on the horse. Rodney served in more public offices than any other Delawarean, among different local and country positions having served as speaker of the State Assembly, member of the Continental Congress, general in the state's militia and governor. However, what distinguishes Rodney the most is his role as a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
On June 7, 1776, acting upon the instructions of the Virginia Convention, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution to the Continental Congress declaring "the United Colonies free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance of, or dependence upon, the Crown or Parliament of Great Britain." A Committee of Five was appointed to draft a formal declaration, and on June 28, 1776, the committee presented the resolution to the full Congress, which consisted of three delegates from each of the 13 colonies.
The Congress debated the resolution for independence, and a vote was scheduled for July 1. Each colony's three delegates would vote among themselves to determine the vote of the colony they represented. The Congress hoped for a unanimous decision. But with South Carolina and Pennsylvania still opposed, the New York delegation waiting from instructions from their state, and Delaware with only two of their three delegates present (one for and one against), the resolution for independence was in trouble.
The vote was delayed until July 2 to buy time for supporters of independence to convince the undecided delegates. South Carolina and Pennsylvania came around, but Delaware remained split and the third delegate, Caesar Rodney was 80 miles away in Dover preparing the state's militia. Thomas McKean, the present Delaware delegate in favor of independence, sent an express rider to Rodney telling him his vote was needed to secure the resolution for independence.
Receiving the message near the end of the day, Rodney mounted his horse and departed for Philadelphia riding through the night in pouring rain and lightning in order to arrive the next morning -- July 2 -- just as the vote was about to be taken. Splattered with mud, spurs still on his boots, and a green scarf partially covering his face, Caesar Rodney walked up the steps into Carpenters' Hall and cast the deciding vote.
However, there is more to Caesar Rodney's story.
The green scarf that partially covered his face was concealing cancer that left his face disfigured and would eventually take his life in 1784. Some historians argue that his vote for independence and his signature on the document declaring the same ensured he would not get the medical treatment he needed for his cancer, as the best treatment in that day was in England.
Like so many others who've played a role in securing and preserving our freedoms, Caesar Rodney was a man that understood freedom is purchased only through sacrificial service to others.
On this 4th of July, take a moment not only to say a prayer of thanksgiving for those who were willing to sacrificially serve, but pray that God would give you the same selfless heart of courage that is required to pass the freedom we enjoy to the next generation.
As Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends."
From all of us here at Family Research Council -- have a happy and grateful Fourth of July!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.