Little background information is extant about Carbery. He was president of the National Metropolitan Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in Washington (it underwrote the payroll of the entire U.S. Army during the War of 1812. Carbery himself was a captain in the Army.
Carbery lived in a large house on 17th Street NW, adjacent to The Ellipse, known as Carbery House. The house was built in 1818 and survived 85 years, demolished in 1903. (Carbery also maintained an estate off Seventh Street Road (now known as Georgia Avenue NW) in the northernmost section of the District of Columbia that is now the Takoma neighborhood.)
Carbery's sister, Ann Mattingly, who lived with him, became extremely ill in 1815 with what doctors diagnosed as an internal cancer. The family, devout Roman Catholics, summoned Father Anthony Kohlmann, a French Jesuit priest, who referred the matter to a priest in Germany who was famous for miraculous cures. Kohlman said a novena with the family, then, at a time coordinated with the German, said a Mass in her home while he did . She soon sat up in bed, the affliction apparently gone. Many Catholics considered this much-publicized incident to be one of the first miracles documented in the United States, though the hierarchy of the Catholic Church never endorsed this view.
Mayor of Washington D.C.
When the beloved (and first popularly elected) mayor of Washington, Samuel N. Smallwood, announced that he would not run for a second elected term as mayor, Carbery sought the office. In 1822 he defeated Roger C. Weightman in a race so close that Weightman sued him; the lawsuit was tied up in court for the entire two years of Carbery's term.
In 1824, Smallwood again sought the office of mayor, defeating the incumbent Carbery's bid for re-election. Carbery ran again in 1826, re-matched with Weightman, and lost.
Carbery was a charter member and officer of the Washington National Monument Society, the group that ultimately financed the construction of the Washington Monument, in the 1830s. He ultimately became chairman of the monument's building committee when construction began in 1848.
During the 1820s, Carbery was a member of the prestigious society, Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, who counted among their members former presidents Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams and many prominent men of the day, including well-known representatives of the military, government service, medical and other professions.
Thomas H. Carbury Elementary School on 5th Street NE between D and E in Washington, DC was named in his honor. It has since been closed.
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Samuel N. Smallwood
| Mayor of Washington, D.C.
Samuel N. Smallwood