Daniel Carroll

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For other people named Daniel Carroll, see Daniel Carroll (disambiguation).
Daniel Carroll

Daniel Carroll (July 22, 1730 – July 5, 1796) was a politician and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a prominent member of one of the United States' great colonial Catholic families, whose members included his younger brother, Archbishop John Carroll, (1735-1815), the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States (1790), (as Archbishop of Baltimore) and founder of Georgetown University; and their cousin Charles Carroll of Carrollton, (1737-1832), who signed the Declaration of Independence. Daniel Carroll was one of five men to sign both the "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union" (1778) and the United States Constitution (1787).

Carroll was a planter. He supported the cause of American independence, risking his social and economic position for the Patriot cause. As a friend and ally of George Washington he worked for a strong central government and fought in the Constitutional Convention for a government directly responsible to the people of the country.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Carroll was born in Upper Marlboro, county seat of Prince Georges County, Maryland on July 22, 1730 to a wealthy family.[2] He spent his early years at his family's home, a large estate of thousands of acres which his mother, Eleanor Darnall Carroll, had inherited. Several of those acres are now associated with the house museum known as Darnall's Chance, listed on the National Register of Historic Places). Carroll was sent abroad for his education. Between 1742 and 1748 he studied under the Society of Jesus, ("Jesuits") at the College of St. Omer (along with his brother Bishop Carroll) in French Flanders, established for the education of English Catholics after the Protestant Reformation, instituted there by King Henry VIII. Then, after a tour of Europe, he sailed home and soon married Eleanor Carroll, apparently a first cousin of another cousin, Charles Carroll of Carrollton.[3]

Carroll gradually joined the Patriot cause. A planter, slaveholder, and large landholder, he was concerned that the Revolution might fail economically and bring about not only his family's financial ruin, but mob rule.[1]

At the time, colonial laws excluded Roman Catholics from holding public office. Once these laws were nullified by the Maryland Constitution of 1776, Carroll was elected to the Maryland State Senate of the General Assembly of Maryland (1777–1781). At the end of his term, Carroll was elected to the Confederation Congress (1781–1784), towards the end of the American Revolution. In 1781, he signed the "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union", which Maryland finally agreed to sign after holding up the process for several years until the larger states with western land claims beyond the Appalachian Mountains extending to the Mississippi River, ceded their claims to the new central government in Congress. His involvement in the Revolution, like that of other Patriots in his extended family, was inspired by the family's motto: "Strong in Faith and War".[1]

Constitutional Convention of 1787[edit]

Arms of Carroll

Carroll was a member of the Constitutional Convention. Like his good friend James Madison of Virginia, Carroll was convinced that a strong central government was needed to regulate commerce among the states and with other nations. He also spoke out repeatedly in opposition to the payment of members of the United States Congress by the states, reasoning that such compensation would sabotage the strength of the new government because "...the dependence of both Houses on the state Legislatures would be compleat .... The new government in this form is nothing more than a second edition of [the Continental] Congress in two volumes, instead of one, and perhaps with very few amendments."[1]

When it was suggested that the President (executive branch) should be elected by the Congress (legislative branch), Carroll, seconded by Wilson, moved that the words "by the legislature" be replaced with "by the people". He and Thomas Fitzsimons were the only Roman Catholics to sign the Constitution, a symbol of the continued advancement of religious freedom in America during the Revolutionary period.

At the Constitutional Convention, Daniel Carroll played an essential role in formulating the limitation of the powers of the federal or central government. He was the author of the presumption — enshrined in the Constitution as a closing article — that powers not specifically delegated to the federal government were reserved to the states or to the people.[4] Carroll spoke about 20 times during the summer of debates at the Constitutional Convention and served on the Committee on Postponed Matters. Returning to Maryland after the Convention, he campaigned for ratification of the Constitution, but was not a delegate to the Maryland state convention for ratification.[3]

Political career[edit]

Following the Convention, Carroll continued to be involved in state and national affairs. He was a key participant in the Maryland ratification struggle of 1787-1788.[5] He defended the Constitution in the pages of the "Maryland Journal", published in Baltimore, most notably in his response to the arguments advanced by the well-known Anti-federalist, another Patriot delegate Samuel Chase. After ratification was achieved in Maryland, Carroll was elected as a Representative ("congressman") to the Sixth Congressional District of Maryland to the First Congress of 1789, meeting in New York City. Given his concern for economic and fiscal stability, he voted for the assumption of state debts accumulated during the war by the federal government to establish a new level of financial confidence of credible public debts as proposed by the new U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton as part of a "grand bargain" with Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, for Northerners to support locating the new national capital in the upper South, along the Potomac River.

One of three commissioners appointed to survey the newly designated District of Columbia and acquire land for the new federal capital in the District, Carroll was related to two major land owners whose land was taken by the government, his brother-in-law Notley Young and nephew Daniel Carroll of Duddington. The new United States Capitol was to be built on the wooded hill owned by his nephew.[6] One of his first official acts as commissioners occurred on 15th April 1791 when with fellow commissioner David Stuart of Virginia, he laid the cornerstone for the beginning boundary line survey of the ten-square mile District of Columbia at Jones Point along the southern shore of the Potomac River, near the river port town of Alexandria, formerly in Virginia.[5] He served as a commissioner until 1795 when he retired because of his poor health.

He later was elected to the Maryland Senate, the upper house of the state's General Assembly. He had many interests in his state and region including the "Patowmack Company", a business enterprise intended to link the East with the expanding West by means of a Potomac River canal, a long-time hope and project of George Washington since his western explorations and military campaigns against the French. This pre-dated the surveying and construction thirty years later of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and its subsequent competition of the use of iron railroad tracks united with the steam engine and locomotive to connect over the Eastern mountains connections between the Atlantic coast and the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers interior heartland, tying the nation, with one of the largest territories then in the world.[3]

Daniel Carroll died at the age of 65 at his home near Rock Creek in the present village of Forest Glen, Maryland. He was buried there in St. John's Catholic Cemetery.[7]

Legacy[edit]

Carroll Street in Madison, Wisconsin is named in his honor.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
President of the Maryland State Senate
1783
Succeeded by
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Preceded by
George Plater
President of the Maryland State Senate
1784
Succeeded by
George Plater
Preceded by
John Smith
President of the Maryland State Senate
1787
Succeeded by
George Plater
Preceded by
George Plater
President of the Maryland State Senate
1788–1789
Succeeded by
John Smith
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
no one
U.S. Congressman, Maryland's 6th District
1789–1791
Succeeded by
Upton Sheredine