The Religious Affiliation of
a Signer of the Declaration of Independence
and a Senator in the First U.S. Federal Congress (1789-1791)
Charles Carroll is regarded as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was a delegate from Maryland.
Charles Carroll was the last signer of the Declaration of Independence to die. This last survivor of one of his nation's foundational moment died on 14 November 1832. This was 56 years after the events of 1776.
Charles Carroll was a Catholic.
He was identified as a Catholic by the U.S. Catholic Historical Society. (Source: Ian Dorion, "Table of the Religious Affiliations of American Founders", 1997).
From: B. J. Lossing, Signers of the Declaration of Independence, George F. Cooledge & Brother: New York (1848) [reprinted in Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, WallBuilder Press: Aledo, Texas (1995)], pages 159-160:
Charles Carroll was descended from Irish ancestry. His grandfather, Daniel Carroll, was a native of Littemourna, in Ireland, and was a clerk in the office of Lord Powis, in the reign of James the Second. Under the patronage of Lord Baltimore, the principal proprietor of Maryland, Mr. Carroll emigrated to that Colony toward the close of the seventeenth century, and became the possessor of a large plantation. His son Charles, the father of [Declaration of Independence signer Charles Carroll], was born in 1702, and lived to the age of eighty years, when he died and left his large estate to his eldest child, Charles, who was then twenty-five years old.
Charles Carroll, the Revolutionary patriot, was born on the twentieth of September, 1737. When he was only eight years of age, his father, who was a Roman Catholic, took him to France, and entered him as a student int he Jesuit College at St. Omer's. There he remained six years, and then went to another Jesuit seminary of learning, at Rheims. After remaining there one year, he entered the College of Louis le Grand, whence he graduated at the age of seventeen years, and then commenced the study of law at Bourges...
The question arises, Why did Mr. Carroll append to his signature the place of his residence, "Carrollton"? [He signed his name on the Declaration of Independence: "Charles Carroll of Carrollton".] It is said that when he wrote his name, a delegate near him suggested, that as he had a cousin of the name of Charles Carroll, in Maryland, the latter might be taken for him, and he (the signer) escape attainder, or any other punishment that might fall upon the heads of the patriots. Mr. arroll immediately seized the pen, and wrote "of Carrollton" at the end of his name, exclaiming "They cannot mistake me now!"
From: Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Declaration: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1975), page 43-45:
As one of the wealthiest men in America, Charles Carroll III of Carrollton risked his fortune as well as his life when he joined the Revolutionaries. Possessing one of the msot cultivated minds of any of the signers, he achieved remarkable success as planter, businessman, and politician. He was the only Roman Catholic signer, the last to surivive, and the longest lived.
Of Irish descent, Carroll was born in 1737 at his father's townhouse, Carroll Mansion of Annapolis. Jesuits educated him until he reached about 11 years of age. He then voyaged to Europe and studied the liberal arts and civil law at various schools and universities in Paris, elsewhere in France, and in London.
Carroll sailed home in 1765 at the age of 28, and built a home at Carrollton Manor, a 10,000-acre estate in Frederick County newly deeded to him by his father. At that time, he added "Carrollton" to his name to distinguish himself from relatives of the same name...
In 1773 Carroll became a champion of the patriots through his newspaper attacks on the Proprietary Governor. The latter was opposing reforms in officers' fees and stipends for Anglican clergy that the lower house of the legislature had proposed... In the years 1774-76 he supported nonimportation measures, attended the first Maryland Revolutionary convention, and the council of safety. In 1776 he and his cousin John, a priest--chosen because of their religion and knowledge of French--traveled to Canada with Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Chase ona congressionally appointed committee that sought but failed to obtain a union of Canada with the colonies...
In his final years, revered by the Nation as the last surviving signer of the Declaration, Carroll spent most of his time at Doughoregan Manor. But he passed the winters in the home of his youngest daughter and her husband in Baltimore. There, in 1832, he died at the age of 95. His body was interred in the family chapel at Doughoregan Manor.
Webpage created 13 November 2005. Last modified 22 November 2005.
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