INTRODUCTION AND THESIS
Charles Carrol was born of Irish descent on September 20, 1737 in Annapolis, Maryland. Catholics in Maryland were denied basic educational and political freedoms. So from the age of eight, Carrol was educated at St. Omer, a Jesuit school in England. He spent the next six years studying in Rheims, Bourges, and Paris. From there he went to London to study law for another six years. At the age of twenty six, Carrol returned to Maryland. French influence was apparent in Carrol’s manner, language, and equestrian abilities.Charles Carrol’s Irish Catholic background is what influenced him to participate actively in the American Revolution and sign the Declaration of Independence.
LIFE BEFORE THE REVOLUTION
He acquired the Manor of Carrolton, a 10,000 acre estate in Maryland from his father. Carrol was then known as Charles Carrol of Carrolton to distinguish himself from his father, Charles Carrol of Annapolis, and his father’s father, also Charles Carrol (Whitney 1964).
When Carrol was 30, in June 1768, he married his cousin Mary “Molly” Darnall. He had seven children with Molly; only three lived to maturity (Ferris 1975).
After his return to Maryland, Carrol became famous as a leader of the patriotic movement. “Second Citizen” was the name he used when writing newspaper articles arguing about the legal issues surrounding the proclamation in 1771 that civil officer of Maryland should collect certain taxes without the approval of the legislature. The people of Annapolis were grateful to him when the proclamation was hanged and made him their “First Citizen.” ( Whitney 1964) At almost forty years of age, Charles Carrol of Carrolton was considered one of the wealthiest men in the Colonies (Malone 1954). Carrol III achieved his remarkable success as a planter, businessman, and politician (Ferris 1975).
CHARLES CARROL OF CARROLTON THE PATRIOT
In 1773 is when he became a public man. He became known as a leading Patriot in Maryland even though most of his services were unofficial (Malone 1954).
Charles Carrol of Carrolton risked his fortune and signed the Declaration of Independence without the slightest hesitation. He explained his decision to a friend in the form of a letter. He said the moment the Americans admitted the British “had the right to tax us in all casesthe most abject slavery and the deepest distresses would follow overnight.” Carrol was of Irish descent and the Irish had seen what the British Parliament could do to a defeated country. Throughout the American Revolution, the Irish committed themselves to the American cause, unfortunately with their blood. Many Irishmen gave their own lives for the independence of America from British control. (Fleming 1997)
The people viewed the four signers from Maryland as young, mostly wealthy, and notable for their good manners and their patriotic devotion to the cause of American independence (Malone 1954).
After his return to Maryland from Europe, he lived a quiet life, banned from public life by his Catholicism. His public life started when he wrote in the local newspaper attacking the Proprietary Governor of Maryland with opposition to fees and stipends for Anglican clergy and civil officers. In 1776, because of his Catholic religion and French fluency, he was sent to Canada along with his priest cousin John, Benjamin Franklin, and Samuel Chase. Their reason there was to convince the Canadians to join the colonies in their cause for independence from the British. Their trip failed. He returned to Philadelphia just in time to sign the Declaration of Independence. Carrol served as a delegate until 1778. He was also elected to the Maryland state senate and served until just after the turn of the century. In 1804, when he was not reelected to the state senate, sixty seven year old Carrol retired from public life. He spent most of his later years at Doughoregan Manor, near Elliot City Maryland, and Deshon-Caton-Carrol House in Baltimore (home of his youngest daughter Mary) concentrating on managing his land, all 80,000 acres of it reaching across Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York. He also took care of his investment in the Patowmack Company which established a canal system in t
he Chesapeak Bay area.(Ferris 1975)
Charles Carrol of Carrolton was the last surviving of the fifty six signers of the Declaration of Independence. He died at ninety six years old on November 14, 1832. (Caldwell 1971)
Even until 1832, when he died, Carrol was still considered one of the most wealthy men in America. He was buried at Doughoregan Manor. (Malone 1954)
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Higginbotham, Don (1983). The War of American Independence. Boston: Northeastern
Fleming, Thomas (1997). Liberty! Penguin Group.
Whitney, David C. (1964). Founders of Freedom. Chicago: J.G. Ferguson Publishing Co.
Ferris, Robert G. (1975). Signers of the Declaration (revised edition). Washington D.C.: US
Department of the Interior National Park Service.
Malone, Dumas (1954). Story of the Declaration of Independence. New York: Oxford University
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