Caesar Augustus Rodney Loses His Way To Attorney General

Caesar Augustus Rodney Loses His Way To Attorney General

Caesar Augustus Rodney was an Attorney General of the United States during the Jefferson Administration.

Rodney was involved with several high-profile court cases during the early years of the Republic. Additionally, he played a major role in the shaping of the Monroe Doctrine.

 

Caesar A. Rodney

Caesar Augustus Rodney came from one of the most prominent Revolutionary Families in Delaware. His father, Thomas Rodney, was a Continental Congressman who would go on to be the first Chief Justice of Mississippi while his uncle was Patriot Hero Caesar Rodney.

Although he studied law at the University of Pennsylvania, Rodney quickly went into politics. He took his seat in the State Assembly the day before his 25th birthday.

His victory made him a leader of the Democratic-Republican Party in a heavily Federalist Delaware.

 

Impeachment Trials

By 1802, Rodney won a seat in the United States House of Representatives. He defeated James A. Bayard, and the two would go on to have a long-standing rivalry.

During this time, Caesar was charged with prosecuting several cases on behalf of the Government.

First, he gained notability for have Federal Justice John Pickering impeached from the District Court of New Hampshire.

Unfortunately, Rodney then had a string of losses. He was appointed as a member of the team which attempted to impeach Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Chase. Although this case was lost, it is extremely important to the history of the Early Federal Government.

 

The Right to Strike

After one term, Rodney lost his House seat to his old foe Bayard.

He thereafter took up the case of the Philadelphia Cordwainers. This was an early labor strike and the first to be heard in an American Court.

Rodney defended this group of shoemakers who wanted better hours and pay. Again, he lost his case. The leaders of the strike were convicted of conspiracy and forced to pay a fine. Labor strikes would not be deemed legal for another thirty-five years.

 

Attorney General

Caesar Rodney was soon chosen by President Thomas Jefferson as the sixth United States Attorney General.

This may seem surprising due to his string of high-profile losses, but as he general fought for the common man (and was a staunch Democratic-Republic) he seemed perfect for the job.

Rodney’s abilities were soon tested when he became part of the prosecution against Aaron Burr for the charge of treason.

Again, he lost the case.

After five years as Attorney General (three of which were during the Madison Administration), Caesar resigned his post. This was due largely to being passed over for a Supreme Court nomination.

 

South America

Rodney served as a Captain throughout the War of 1812 before returning to the State Senate for several years. He then traveled with John Graham and Theodorick Bland (Jr) to South America.

This journey was intended to investigate the state of the new countries which had arisen in the wake of several republican revolutions. The information Rodney and his comrades sent back in a large part swayed the soon-to-be-important Monroe Doctrine.

 

Minister to Argentina

Rodney returned to the United State where he was elected to his second term in the House of Representatives…nearly twenty years after his first!

After serving just one year in the House, he was chosen for the United States Senate.

Again, Caesar only spent one year in this position. He resigned after President James Monroe appointed him as the first United States Minister to Argentina.

Unfortunately, Rodney passed away shortly after arriving in Argentina. He was buried, and remains, there, far away from the home he knew for most of his life.

If you would like to read about more Founders who were sent on diplomatic missions to often overlooked locations, check out my articles on Ralph Izard, Joel Barlow and Francis Dana.

If you would like to learn more about the Monroe Doctrine, I suggest you pick up a copy of ‘No God But Gain’ which came out about two years ago and has a totally fresh take on the reasons behind the Doctrine. Pick up a copy through the affiliate link below to support this site at no additional cost to you.

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