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Rodney, Caesar (1728-1784) to [Thomas Rodney.]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00983 Author/Creator: Rodney, Caesar (1728-1784) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 19 September 1774 Pagination: 2 p. ; 32 x 19.7 cm.

Written by Rodney, an eventual signer of the Declaration of Independence, as Speaker of the Delaware Assembly to an unknown recipient. Says he wrote recipient on 17 September 1774. Says he was probably concerned about a report of the British firing on Boston. Says Philadelphia's bells rang all day when that news arrived, but that it proved to be false a few days later. When expresses were sent out from Boston to say it was false, the riders came upon 50,000 men in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Says if the men were not armed, they were carrying provisions for others. When they heard the news they went home, but not before sending officers ahead to see if it was true. Claims the rumor was spread by "some of the friends to the Ministerial plan" to prove the valor of the people, which he says there is no doubt of now. Gives a report of a British Captain "that friends to the American Cause are daily increasing on the other side [of] the water." Year inferred from content, but 19 September 1774 was on a Monday according to a calendar.

A signer of the Declaration of Independence from Delaware, Caesar Rodney (1728-1784) served as a major general in the state militia and as president of Delaware during the Revolution. In this letter, Rodney describes the rumors and paranoia following a false report of a British attack on Boston. He supports the claim of the Friends of Liberty that the rumor may have been started by loyalists to measure the support for the patriots in the countryside.

Philadelphia Monday Sepr 19
Sir
I wrote you on Saturday by John Morris the St Jones's Creek Shallopman, who was to leave town that night; with him Also I directed another paper inclosing the New-York newspaper of Thursday last; with this Letter which will go by Matthew Henry's Shallop I shall inclose you the Pensylvania Packet of this day.
Some time ago, I do not doubt but you were all much allarmed on a Report that the Kings Ships were firing on the Town of Boston. When that news came to this City, the Bells were muffled, and kept Ringing all that day; However in a few days after, that news was contradicted here, and hope by this time it is so with you. By Some late verry Authentick accounts from Boston Government to the Gentlemen of that place [struck: but] now at the Congress. We are informed that, there was about three days, between this Report's passing through the Massachusets & Connecticut Governments, and its being Contradicted. That When the Expresses [struck: illegible] went to Contradict this false Report they found in those two Governments in different parties upwards of fifty thousand men well armed, actually on their march to Boston for the Relief of the inhabitants; and that every farmer who had a Cart or Waggon (and not able to bear arms) were with them Loaded with Provisions, ammunition and Baggage &ctr. all headed by Experienced officers who had served in the late American War. And that Vast numbers more were prepared to March, but upon the news being Contradicted, they Returned peaceably to their several places of Abode, but not till they had Sent some of their officers from the different parties to Boston to know the Situation of Affairs there and to direct them What principal officers of different parts of the Country they should hereafter send Expressposts in Case they should stand in need of their assistance. It is supposed by some of the friends of Liberty at Boston that the alarm was set on foot by some of the friends [struck: of] to the ministerial plan in order to try whether there was that true Vallour in the people - if this was the Case, I suppose you will think with me that by this time they can have no doubts remaining - Indeed I think it is proved by the General's own conduct, for, ever since that, he has been fortifying himself, Which I imagine is more for his own security, than to attack the Inhabitants. Yesterday afternoon Captain [2] All from London came up to Town, But no news that he may have brought has as yet transpired - Except that friends to the American Cause are daily increasing on the other side the water.
I am yours
Caesar Rodney

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