The Horse Ride That Changed
the Course of American History

I feel it is safe to say that most Americans over the age of 12 have at least heard of the famous ride that Patriot Paul Revere took in April 1775 to announce the British are coming. History has made him a hero of the American Revolution. However, there was another Patriot in Colonial times that made a ride even more heroic. Caesar Rodney made this ride on July 1-2, 1776.

Caesar Rodney took a leading role in events leading up to the American Revolution, always promoting the rights of American colonists against British policies. In 1765 he served as one of Delaware’s delegates to the Stamp Act Congress in New York. In the summer of 1774, as speaker of the Assembly, Rodney took the extra-legal step of calling the Assembly into special session. At that session, he was elected one of Delaware’s delegates to the First Continental Congress. He was later elected to the Second Continental Congress.

Rodney’s belief in the American position, combined with England’s increasingly hard-line stance, led him to believe that independence was the only answer for the American colonies. In all of this, Rodney and the others involved were taking a great risk, for they did not know whether they would succeed. A vote was taken the morning of July 1 if the colonies should declare independence from British control. South Carolina and Pennsylvania voted against it, Delaware's delegates were evenly divided, while New York abstained. Edward Rutledge, a delegate from South Carolina, "then requested the determination might be put off to the next day." After this vote, Thomas McKean sent by express courier a message to Rodney requesting his immediate presence to break the vote. In the Continental Congress each colony had one vote based on the votes of its individual delegates. Delaware had two other representatives. Thomas McKean would vote for independence, George Read would vote against it. Those votes would cancel each other out, leaving Delaware without a vote unless Caesar Rodney was present to vote for independence.

Rodney received McKean’s message on the evening of July 1. Although he was sick from a cancerous affliction which deformed one side of his face and his physician advised Rodney that he was on his death bed, he left Dover immediately. Suffering from his illness, he nevertheless got up from his death bed and dressed himself. Then he mounted a horse, dashing away in the mud and rain and rode the 80 miles through a storm and arrived just in time for the calling of the Delaware vote. He voted yes. Once Delaware voted yes, Pennsylvania and South Carolina changed their minds and voted yes. New York followed the next day and voted yes. This made it unanimous. If Caesar Rodney had not made the ride and thus able to cast a vote, who knows how long it would have been - if ever - before the new colonies gained their independence from Great Britain.

After the ride, Caesar Rodney';s health improved but he was briefly out of political power. In March 1778 he was elected president (governor) of Delaware. He held that post until November 1781. After that, he lived quietly until his death in 1784.

Off-the-wall Historic Newspapers

Years ago I had an American newspaper from the 1760’s. In all other ways, it was just like any other Colonial newspaper. However, in reading the classified ads I found one highly interesting. At the top of the ad was the word “REWARD.” Until I read the ad, my impression was that the ad was for a runaway slave. However, in reading the ad I soon discovered that the ad was quite unique. The ad went on to relate that his wife had run away with a salesman. It gave a description of his wife and the salesman. Then at the bottom of the ad he offered the reward: Five Pence reward for information leading to the return of his wife (keep in mind that the Colonies were still on the British monetary system at the time,) and One pound reward if you keep her!


On another occassion, I came across a small town newspaper from the 1950’s that served a rural area. The headline was “Thief Steals 40 Chickens From Bates Farm.” Another article on the front page had the headline “Boy Scouts Host Chicken Dinner Tonight.”


One of the strangest occupations that existed from the late 1700’s through the end of the Civil War was that of a wet nurse. Most editions of newspapers in this era published at least one ad for a new mother seeking a wet nurse or a wet nurse offering her services. A wet nurse was someone that hired out to breast feed infants. She would travel from home to home to breast feed infants in her charge.


One of the most unusual names for a newspaper was "The Tickler - By Toby Scratch'em." (Nameplate shown below.) It was published in Philadelphia from 1807 to 1813.

June Brain Teaser Answer

If you take a standard balance scale and put 10 ounces of sand on one side and 10 ounces of gold on the other side, one side will be lower because it is heavier. Why? There is a logical answer to why one side will lower.

Answer: Most people offer the solution that 10 ounces is 10 ounces, thus neither side would be heaver. In this case, however, it is not. Precious minerals, such as gold, silver, titanium, etc. are ALWAYS measured in Troy ounces. A Troy ounce is 1.09 of the traditional ounce used to measure meat, liguid, etc. Thus, 10 Troy ounces would be heavier coming in at 10.9 of the standard ounce.

July Brain Teaser

There is only one word in the United States English dictionary that contains NO VOWELS. What is this word? The word is standard and not slang. It is an actual word and not an acronym. Also is it not part of a professional jargon. The word is used by most eveyone at some time or another.

Answer next issue.

PS: If you make any money by winning bets on these brain teasers, a little commission would be nice :-)



June Contest


QUESTION: Only one American President had been divorced and remarried before becoming President. Who was he?

ANSWER: Ronald Reagan


Seventy-one people entered the contest. Seventeen were disqualifed due to an incorrect subject heading, incorrect answer, or did not indicate which prize they wanted if they won. All prizes were awarded.

The June winners were:

  • Savannah Hiatt - Florida
  • Kathryn Czimcharo - Pennsylvania
  • Carol Carpenter - New York
  • David Doshier - Texas
  • Asheen Phansey - Massachusetts
  • Bill Winchester - Iowa
  • Becca Rowley - California
  • Derrick Bennet - Ohio
  • Mike Rowley - Iowa
  • Sandy Watkins - Pennsylvania
  • Arlen Grossman - California


This Issue's Question

To enter the Grand Prize Contest, send by email an essay of not more than 75 words relating why you want to win it. One grand prize will be awarded.

To enter the Alternate Contest, answer the question below and indicate which ONE prize you want if you win. (Only one of each is available.)

Alternate Contest Question: What is the number of the only amendment to the United States Constitution that was repealed?

Contest Rules

  • Contest entry deadline is Saturday, July 16, 2005. Later entries will be disqualified. Winners will be notified by email within 24 hours after the contest deadline. Winners names and states will be published in the next issue of the HistoryBuff.com Newsletter.

  • Subscribers may enter both contests, but can only win one prize.

  • To enter either contest, email your essay or answer to help@historybuff.com.

  • If entering for the Grand Prize, enter "Contest Entry Grand Prize" for the subject heading. Include ONLY your essay and NOT the answer to the alternate contest question. (Only one grand prize is available.)

  • If entering for any of the alternate contest prizes, enter "Contest Entry" for the subject heading and answer the Alternate Contest Question.

  • If entering both contests, send separate emails.

  • Entries with prize desires such as "any prize is OK," "any of the historic newspapers" etc. will be disqualified. You MUST select ONE prize.

  • From subscribers entering the Grand Prize contest and submitting an essay of NOT MORE THAN 75 words in length, correct subject heading, and submission received by the deadline, will be considered for winning. All other Grand Prize entires will be disqualified.

  • From subscribers entering the alternate contest, submitting the correct answer, correct subject heading, submission received by the deadline, as well as advising which ONE alternate contest prize they want to win, nine will be selected to win one of the alternate contest prizes below.

  • Subscribers to this newsletter that won a prize in my trivia contests in the last 90 days are ineligible to win.

Grand Prize
(One winner will be selected)


Authentic WWII Souvenir Pillow CoverEgypt
During World War II soliders could purchase souvenir pillow cases to send back home to their girlfriend, mother or sister. They were sold in the base commissary. This one is for the Air Force and for a soldier's sister.


Alternate Contest Prizes

DVD
Porky Pig Cartoons
Over 1 hour of classic Porky Pig
animation from the 1940's and 1950's

DVD
Little House on the Prairie
There's No Place Like Home
(2 hour movie)



DVD
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1933)


DVD Game
Based on classic television shows

Original Historic Newspapers


Original New-England Galaxy (Boston) historic newspaper from 1826


Original The Madisionian (Washington, DC) historic newspaper from 1838


Original Dover Gazette and Strafford Advertiser historic newspaper from 1848


Original The Constitution (Washington, DC) historic newspaper from 1859


Original The New York Times historic newspaper from 1874
That's it for this issue.

Rick Brown


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