Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832) was the most illustrious and best-known of the Carrolls. He was the only signer whose property — Carrollton — was mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. Carrollton was the 10,000-acre estate in Frederick County, Maryland, that Charles Carroll's father had given him on his return to America from his education in Europe.
At the time he signed the Declaration, it was against the law for a Catholic to hold public office or to vote. Although Maryland was founded by and for Catholics in 1634, in 1649 and, later, in 1689 after the Glorious Revolution placed severe restrictions on Catholics in England, the laws were changed in Maryland, and Catholicism was repressed.
Catholics could no longer hold office, exercise the franchise, educate their children in their faith, or worship in public. With the Declaration of Independence, all this bias and restriction ended. Charles Carroll first became known in colonial politics through his defense of freedom of conscience and his belief that the power to govern derived from the consent of the governed. He was a staunch supporter of Washington, and when the war was going badly at Valley Forge, he was instrumental in persuading the Revolution's Board of War not to replace Washington with General Horatio Gates. Carroll supported the war with his own private funds; he was widely regarded as the wealthiest of all the colonists, with the most to lose were the fight for independence to fail. Carroll was greatly acclaimed in later life, and he outlived all the other signers of the Declaration.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Catholic Founding Father
Many do not know much about the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence - Charles Carroll. Here is a bio about Carroll and some other important members of his family: