Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Daniel Carroll

                    Daniel Carroll of Maryland was a politician and one of our Founding Fathers.  He has the distinction of being one of six people who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution as well as one of five men who signed both the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution.

                    Carroll was a prominent member of a prominent political and great colonial Catholic family.  The Carroll family had its origins in the ancient Irish kingdom of Eile, commonly anglicized Ely, as part of the ruling O'Carroll family.  An ancient ancestor was Domhnall O'Carroll, King of Eile (Ely).  Other prominent members of the family include his Daniel's younger brother Archbishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States and founder of Georgetown University, and his cousin Charles Carroll of Carrollton who also signed the Declaration of Independence.

                    Daniel Carroll was born on July 22, 1730, in Upper Marlboro, Prince Georges County, Maryland, the oldest son of Daniel Carroll and Eleanor Darnall Carroll of English descent.  His mother had inherited "a large estate of thousands of acres," and Daniel spent his early years at his family home there.  Several acres of this estate are now a museum known as Darnall's Chance, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Daniel was educated in Europe.  He studied under the Jesuits (1742-1748) at the College of St. Omer in Flanders (established for the education of English Catholics after the protestant Reformation).  Soon after he returned to America, he married Eleanor Carroll, apparently a first cousin of Charles Carroll of Carrollton.  Not much is known of Carroll for the next two decades besides the fact that he gradually joined the cause of the Patriots.

                    Carroll was a wealthy planter, slave owner, and large land owner who risked his socials and economic position by supporting the Patriot cause of American independence.  He was concerned that the Revolution might fail and bring economic ruin to his family as well as mob rule.  He was a friend and strong ally of George Washington; he believed in and "worked for a strong central government that could secure the achievements and fulfill the hopes of the Revolution."  In the Convention, Carroll fought for a government that would be responsible to the people directly.

                    Catholics were prohibited from holding public office at the time by colonial laws.  After the laws were nullified in 1776 by the Maryland constitution, Carroll was elected to the Maryland legislature and took his seat in the Senate (1777-1781).  He was then elected to the Continental Congress and served there from 1781 until 1784.  He signed the Articles of Confederation in 1781.  The motto of the extended Carroll family was "Strong in Faith and War," and Daniel was strongly involved in the Revolution.

                    Carroll was active in the Constitutional Convention and was a good friend of James Madison.  Like Madison, Carroll was convinced that a strong central government was needed to regulate commerce, both domestic and foreign.  He wanted the power of the government to be vested in the people.  He served on the Committee on Postponed Matters and spoke maybe 20 times in the debates of the Convention.  Carroll and Thomas Fitzsimons were the only Roman Catholics to sign the Constitution, but their signing was a "symbol of the advance of religious freedom in America during the Revolutionary period." 

After the Convention, Carroll continued to be involved in politics on both the state and national level.  Although he was not a delegate at the state convention, he actively campaigned for the ratification of the Constitution in Maryland.  He defended the Constitution in the Maryland Journal, often in opposition to the arguments of Samuel Chase, a well-known Anti-federalist.  After the Constitution was ratified, Carroll was elected to represent the sixth district of Maryland to the First Congress.  There he voted for the federal government to assume the war debts of the states.  He also served in the Maryland Senate.

                    Carroll was appointed as one of three commissioners with the assignment to survey the District of Columbia.  He also owned one of the four farms that became Washington, D.C.  The other three farms were owned by Notley Young, David Burns, and Samuel Davidson.  The capital itself was built on the land Carroll transferred to the government.  As the official commissioners of Congress, Carroll and David Stuart laid the cornerstone of the District of Columbia at Jones Point near Alexandria, Virginia, on April 15, 1791.  He was forced by failing health to retire in 1795, but he remained active in his region. 

                    In the last year of Carroll's life, he became a partner with George Washington in their Patowmack Company.  The intent of this company was to link the middle states with the West by means of a Potomac River canal.  Carroll passed away on July 5, 1796, at "Rock Creek" (Forest Glen), Montgomery County, Maryland, and was interred at St. John's Catholic Cemetery, Forest Glen, MarylandCarroll Street in Madison, Wisconsin, is named in Carroll's honor.

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