Trump’s statue plan puts Caesar Rodney in focus

WILMINGTON — President Donald Trump is seeking to give a place of prominence to Delaware’s Caesar Rodney.

A Rodney statue was removed from a city square in Wilmington earlier this summer. The statue depicts the Revolutionary War-era figure riding to Philadelphia to cast the deciding vote for America’s independence.

In a speech Thursday, President Trump cited an initiative to include the statue in a newly planned “National Garden of American Heroes.”

“Even though he was suffering from very advanced cancer — he was deathly ill — Rodney rode 80 miles through the night, through a severe thunderstorm, from Dover to Philadelphia to cast his vote for independence,” the president said in his speech. “For nearly a century, a statue of one of Delaware’s most beloved citizens stood in Rodney Square, right in the heart of Wilmington.

“But this past June, Caesar Rodney’s statue was ordered removed by the mayor and local politicians as part of a radical purge of America’s founding generation.”

In a statement, Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki said the city “did not remove the Caesar Rodney statue to discredit it, but to protect it.” He said the removal will allow the city to have a reasoned discussion about what is appropriate for public display.

Additionally, President Trump said his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, has been quiet on the matter.

“Joe Biden said nothing as to his home state’s history and the fact that it was dismantled and dismembered. And a Founding Father’s statue was removed,” President Trump said.

“Today, America will give this Founding Father, this very brave man, who was so horribly treated, the place of honor he deserves.”

Caesar Rodney, who owned slaves, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He broke a tie between the other two Delaware delegates after an overnight ride from Kent County to Philadelphia.