1919: The Great Historical Sale: The Papers of Caesar Rodney, Thomas Rodney, and Caesar A. Rodney

On July 13, 1919 Stan Henkels hosted, what he dubbed, the Great Historical Sale. The sale contained letters and documents of Caesar Rodney, Thomas Rodney, and Caesar A. Rodney. Stan Henkels, an auction merchant in Philadelphia, advertised the auction widely. He claimed that nearly every letter was “of the most vital historical importance.” The letters and documents being auctioned relayed many of the events of the American Revolution. For example, there was correspondence discussing the Stamp Act of Congress of 1765, mentions of the Battle of Brandywine, and letters discussing the Articles of Confederation. The auction garnered a great deal of interest. Previously, the papers had been held privately in the possession of the family.1919 - Auction

The auction was significant because of the legacy of the Rodney family in American history. Caesar Rodney (1728-1784) served in the Delaware militia, the Stamp Act Congress, the Delaware Committee of Correspondence, and the Continental Congress. He served as president of Delaware from 1778 until 1781.  Thomas Rodney (1744-1811) was also in the militia and on the Council of Safety during the American Revolution. He served as a judge of admiralty court, represented Delaware in the Confederation Congress, and was also an associate justice of the Delaware Supreme Court. Caesar A. Rodney (1772-1824) served in the Delaware House of Representatives from 1796 to 1802, served in the US House of Representatives, and held the post of US Attorney General.

The sale of letters and documents belonging to such significant figures in history was a great success. Many of the letters and documents auctioned eventually found their way to the Historical Society of Delaware. Today, the Society possesses many letters and documents on the Rodney Family. Examples can be found in the H. Fletcher Brown Collection of Rodney Family Papers, the Rodney Collection, and the Caesar Rodney Letters.


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