Sunday, January 20, 2013

A short overview of the Carroll family of Maryland, America's Catholic founders

Here's a link to the Catholic Education Resource Center's nice little overview of the three most prominent members of the Carroll family of Maryland who were active in the founding of the country -- Charles Carroll and his cousins, the brothers Daniel and John Carroll.  Both Charles and Daniel were important political actors in during the Revolution and in the early Republic.  John would choose an ecclesiastical vocation and would eventually become the first Catholic bishop in the United States.

The article includes a very helpful reminder to those of us interested in the Founding Period -- namely that in all of our interest in the "top-tier" Founders, the work of American liberty was the product of the work of many hands.

8 comments:

Phil Johnson said...


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I wonder about the Carroll influence on towns and cities in the U.S. that are named, Carrollton. There is one next to Saginaw, Michigan, where the main church is Catholic.
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Mark in Spokane said...

That is an interesting thought, Phil. The Carroll family loomed large in the minds of Catholics during the the 18th and 19th centuries -- in a very real way, they were the Catholic link to the American Founding, the family that allowed those considered outsiders (because of religion, ethnicity and immigrant status) to tie into the American Creation.

jimmiraybob said...

When I visit friends in Louisville, KY, we've gone over into Carroll County for fun and adventure. From Wikipedia:

Carroll County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky and located at the confluence of the Kentucky and Ohio rivers. It was formed in 1838 and named for Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Mark in Spokane said...

Interesting. From what I have read, a considerable portion of the early settlers in Kentucky were Roman Catholics -- Louisville was one of the first daughter-dioceses of Baltimore to be set up for the Catholic Church in the United States. It is not surprising, then, that the Catholic settlers in the region named things about John Carroll.

Phil Johnson said...

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This, gentlemen, is what makes history interesting to the average person.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

What most people don't know is that the protestants from Virginia had taken over "Catholic" Maryland decades before. There were even anti-Catholic laws. Charles Carroll's father thought Maryland was getting to become a place unfit for Catholics.

I'd say the Revolution cam along just in time.

http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/america%E2%80%99s-catholic-colony


n 1704, the Assembly passed "An Act to Prevent the Growth of Popery within this Province" targeting the Jesuits in Maryland. It forbade any "Popish Bishop, Priest, or Jesuite" from proselytizing, baptizing any person other than those with "Popish Parents," or saying Mass. By another statute in 1704, Mass could be said only in private homes. Additional laws prohibited Catholics from practicing law and from teaching children. Severe taxes were imposed on hiring Irish "Papist" servants as a move to discourage Irish immigration. In 1718, Catholics were stripped of their right to vote as all voters were required to take various test oaths that included deliberately anti-Catholic declarations.

Cradle of Faith

The great Maryland experiment was at an end, and it wasn’t until the middle of the 18th century that Catholics were permitted to practice their faith openly. Still, the courage of the Maryland Catholics had planted the faith permanently in English America. In 1708, there were 2,974 Catholics in Maryland out of a total population of 40,000. By 1785, there were 15,800 Catholics, making them the largest group of Catholics anywhere in the colonies. Out of this cradle of faith emerged some of the most important and revered figures in American Catholic history, including John Carroll, the Father of the American Church and the first bishop and archbishop of Baltimore.

Mark in Spokane said...

Thanks for the context, Tom! Fascinating stuff.

jimmiraybob said...

In addition to appealing to the European and Canadian French at the time of the revolution, there was also a large Catholic presence, via both the Spanish and the French, in the west throughout the Mississippi region from New Orleans to St Louis to Dubuque to Minneapolis and beyond.

There is also a city of Carrollton* in Missouri (my home state) which is the seat of Carrollton County*. Carrollton is just north of a bend in the Missouri River, toward the Kansas City side of the state - another route of Catholic expansion in Colonial and post colonial times (fur trappers and traders and missionary priests).

It's not easy to miss the Catholic influence - at least architecturally (abundance of church steeples) and in place names in the older sections of the river towns of the Ohio and Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

*both named in honor of Charles Carroll of Carrollton.