Charles Carroll

Charles Carroll

by Elizabeth Marsh

 

Charles Carroll of Carrolton would go down in history as the only Catholic signatory of the Declaration of Independence. Born in 1737 in Annapolis, Maryland to a wealthy family of Irish heritage, Carroll would go on to become the heir of his family’s fortunes. He was schooled in France beginning when he as eight years old, and would not return to the colonies until he was twenty-eight.

After returning from Europe, Carroll went on to maintain his house and grounds in Carrollton. However, he was eventually thrust into the political upheaval present in the colonies thatcharles carroll would culminate in the American Revolution. As a Catholic, Charles Carroll was barred from politics in Maryland, but that did not stop him from becoming a dominant figure in the events rising up to the revolution. This became evident when a series of his letters were published in the Maryland Gazette where he protested Britain’s ‘right’ to tax the colonies without representation. “Carroll gained public acclaim for embracing the principle that the people are the true foundation of government and emerged as the citizens’ ‘patriot’. He was then appointed to the Annapolis Committee of Correspondence and Council of Safety. Charles Carroll was soon elected to the 2nd Maryland Convention in 1774, his first elected office.”[1] The law preventing Catholics from serving office was disregarded at that point due to the impending revolution.

Carroll continued to become a stronger presence in the colonies, and he was sent in 1776 to enlist Canadian support in the conflict with Great Britain. While the endeavor was unsuccessful, when he returned to Maryland he was appointed as a representative for Maryland in the Second Continental Congress, along with three others from Maryland. He would go on to sign the Declaration of Independence, and serve the Continental Congress on the Board of War.

In 1778, he returned to Maryland to become involved in state politics. “He was elected to the Maryland Senate in 1781, and to the first Federal Congress in 1788. He returned again to the State Senate in 1790 and served there for 10 years. He retired from that post in 1800.”[2] Besides being the sole Catholic to sign the Declaration, he was the last living signatory. He died at ninety-five in 1832.

Works Cited

Charles Carroll House of Annapolis.“Charles Carroll of Carrollton: The Signer” Accessed on 23 March 2015. http://charlescarrollhouse.org/the-carrolls/personal-biography-2.

USHistory.org. “Charles Carroll.” Last modified 4 July 1995. http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/carroll.htm.

[1] “Charles Carroll of Carrollton: The Signer,” Charles Carroll House of Annapolis, accessed on 23 March 2015, http://charlescarrollhouse.org/the-carrolls/personal-biography-2.

[2] “Charles Carroll,” USHistory.org, last modified 4 July 1995, http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/carroll.htm.

 

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