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Caesar Augustus Rodney (January 4, 1772 – June 10, 1824) was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic-Republican Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly, as well as a U.S. Representative from Delaware, U.S. Senator from Delaware, U.S. Attorney General, and U.S. Minister to Argentina.

Early life and family

Rodney was born in Dover, Delaware, son of Thomas Rodney and Elizabeth Fisher. He was the nephew of Caesar Rodney, the signer of the Declaration of Independence who is depicted on the Delaware state quarter. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvaniamarker in 1789, he studied law under Joseph B. McKean in Philadelphia and was admitted to the bar in 1793. He practiced law in Wilmington and New Castlemarker, Delaware, for the next three years. Rodney married Susan Hunn, the daughter of Captain John Hunn and their home was "Cool Springs", located in Wilmington.

Professional and political career

Rodney served six terms as the State Representatve, from the 1797 session through the 1802 session. There he became one of the leaders of the Jeffersonian party, now known as the Democratic-Republican Party. Encouraged by Jefferson to compete for the U.S. House against the staunch Federalist James A. Bayard, Rodney ran and won a lively campaign by fifteen votes. While in the U.S. House, he was a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, and established a national reputation as one of the managers appointed in January 1804 to prepare the articles of impeachment against John Pickering, judge of the United States District Court for New Hampshire. Pickering was charged with conduct unbecoming a judge, and his acquittal was viewed as strengthening the independence of the judiciary. In December of the same year, Rodney led another such case against Samuel Chase, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Statesmarker.

After serving one term in the U.S. House from March 4, 1803 until March 3, 1805, he was defeated for reelection in 1804 by Bayard, by nearly as close a vote. The two men, always vigorous political opponents, remained good friends throughout their tumultuous political careers.

While Rodney spent most of his legal career in public service, he took on at least one notable case as a private advocate during the year before his appointment as Attorney General. In 1806, he made an appearance before the Mayor's Court of Philadelphia to defend the Philadelphia Cordwainers against a common law charge of conspiracy. The conspiracy charge was instituted by retail shoe merchants, based on attempts by the journeyman shoe and boot makers, to organize for the purpose of setting their wages and hours. Rodney was unsuccessful in attaining an acquittal for the workers.

Attorney General

On January 20, 1807 U.S. President Thomas Jefferson named Rodney his U.S. Attorney General and he served in that office for the remainder of Jefferson's term and for nearly three years in U.S. President James Madison's first term. As Attorney General, Rodney participated as a member of the prosecution during the second treason trial of former Vice-President Aaron Burr. He resigned December 5, 1811, unhappy about being passed over for a U.S. Supreme Court appointment. During the War of 1812, he was captain of a rifle corps which became the Delaware 1st Artillery. They served at Fort Union in Wilmington, on the Canadian frontier, and assisted in the defense of Baltimore in 1814.

Later political activity

Rodney returned to politics serving in the State Senate for three sessions from 1815 through 1817. In 1820 he was again elected to the U.S. House, serving from March 4, 1821 until January 24, 1822, when he resigned upon being elected to the U.S. Senate. He served there only a year as well, resigning January 29, 1823 to accept a diplomatic appointment. During that brief year Rodney was Delaware's only Democratic-Republican U.S. Senator ever.

In 1817 Rodney was appointed by President James Monroe to lead a commission to investigate whether the newly formed South American republics should be recognized. He strongly advocated such recognition and, with John Graham, published his findings in 1819 as Reports on the Present State of the United Provinces of South America. This report is thought to have contributed much to the thinking behind the policy that eventually became expressed as the Monroe Doctrine. It also resulted in Rodney's 1823 appointment as United States Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Provinces of the River Plate, now known as Argentina. He remained at this posting until his death.

Death and legacy

Rodney died June 10, 1824 in Buenos Airesmarker, Argentinamarker, and was buried there in the Victoria district British Cemetery. His remains were moved to a cript at the St. John's Cathedral in the City of Buenos Aires. The Cript is at the piristil of the entrance of the Cathedral.


Elections were held the first Tuesday of October. Members of the General Assembly took office on the first Tuesday of January. State Representatives were elected for one year. U.S. Representatives took office March 4th and have a two year term. The General Assembly chose the U.S. Senators, who also took office March 4th, but for a six year term. In this case the General Assembly failed to fill the position for nearly a year.

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
State Representative Legislature Dovermarker January 3, 1797 January 2, 1798
State Representative Legislature Dovermarker January 2, 1798 January 1, 1799
State Representative Legislature Dovermarker January 1, 1799 January 7, 1800
State Representative Legislature Dovermarker January 7, 1800 January 6, 1801
State Representative Legislature Dovermarker January 6, 1801 January 5, 1802
State Representative Legislature Dovermarker January 5, 1802 January 4, 1803
U.S. Representative Legislature Washingtonmarker March 4, 1803 March 3, 1805
U.S. Attorney General Executive Washingtonmarker January 20, 1807 December 5, 1811
State Senate Legislature Dovermarker January 3, 1815 January 6, 1818
U.S. Representative Legislature .Washingtonmarker March 4, 1821 January 22, 1822
U.S. Senator Legislature Washingtonmarker January 10, 1822 January 29, 1823
Resident Minister Executive Buenos Airesmarker January 29, 1823 June 10, 1824 Argentinamarker

Delaware General Assembly service
Dates Assembly Chamber Majority Governor Committees District
1797 21st State House Federalist Gunning Bedford, Sr. New Castle at-largemarker
1798 22nd State House Federalist Daniel Rogers New Castle at-largemarker
1799 23rd State House Federalist Richard Bassett New Castle at-largemarker
1800 24th State House Federalist Richard Bassett New Castle at-largemarker
1801 25th State House Federalist James Sykes New Castle at-largemarker
1802 26th State House Federalist David Hall New Castle at-largemarker
1815 39th State Senate Federalist Daniel Rodney New Castle at-largemarker
1816 40th State Senate Federalist Daniel Rodney New Castle at-largemarker
1817 41st State Senate Federalist John Clark New Castle at-largemarker

United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1803–1805 8th U.S. House Republican Thomas Jefferson at-large
1821–1823 17th U.S. House Republican James Monroe 2nd at-large
1821–1823 17th U.S. Senate Republican James Monroe class 1

Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1802 U.S. Representative Caesar A. Rodney Republican 3,421 50% James A. Bayard Federalist 3,406 50%
1804 U.S. Representative Caesar A. Rodney Republican 4,038 48% James A. Bayard Federalist 4,398 52%


  1. see


  • Commonwealth v. Pullis ("The Philadelphia Cordwainers' Case"), Mayor's Court of Philadelphia (1806)

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