Charles Carroll was the only Roman Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence. Charles Carroll was the longest living signer of the Declaration.
In 1772, Charles Carroll condemned the British Government’s oppressive taxes by writing in the Maryland Gazette under the pseudonym “First Citizen.”
When his identity became known, the British loyalist Daniel Dulany the Younger wrote mean-spirited personal ad-hominem attacks against Charles Carroll, ridiculing him.
Charles Carroll‘s statesmanlike response was to explain that because Dulany engaged in “virulent invective and illiberal abuse, we may fairly presume, that arguments are either wanting, or that ignorance or incapacity know not how to apply them.”
Charles Carroll led the Tea Party movement in Maryland. On October 19, 1774, Charles Carroll helped set fire to the British ship Peggy Stewart, which was carrying tea into the Annapolis harbor.
The Continental Congress sent Charles Carroll, along with his cousin Fr. John Carroll, Ben Franklin and Samuel Chase to Canada in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade them to join in the Revolutionary cause.
Charles Carroll’s cousin, John Carroll, was the first Catholic Bishop in the United States, who founded Georgetown University.
Bishop John Carroll wrote in 1790:
“In 1776, American Independence was declared, and a revolution effected, not only in political affairs, but also in those relating to Religion.
For a while the thirteen provinces of North America rejected the yoke of England, they proclaimed, at the same time, freedom of conscience and the right of worshiping the Almighty, according to the spirit of the religion to which each one should belong.
…Before this great event, the Catholic faith had penetrated two provinces only, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
In all the others the laws against Catholics were in force.
Any priest coming from foreign parts, was subject to the penalty of death; all who professed the Catholic faith, were not merely excluded from offices of government, but hardly could be tolerated in a private capacity…”
Bishop John Carroll ended:
“By the Declaration of Independence, every difficulty was removed: the Catholics were placed on a level with their fellow-Christians, and every political disqualification was done away.”
Charles Carroll wrote to Rev. John Stanford on October 9, 1827:
“To obtain religious as well as civil liberty I entered jealously into the Revolution, and observing the Christian religion divided into many sects, I founded the hope that no one would be so predominant as to become the religion of the State.
…That hope was thus early entertained because all of them joined in the same cause, with few exceptions of individuals.
God grant that this religious liberty may be preserved in these States, to the end of time, and that all believing in the religion of Christ may practice the leading principle of charity, the basis of every virtue.”
In 1776, knowing the British would target the signers of the Declaration, he did not want his relatives who had the same name to be mistakenly punished, so he made his identity clear by signing “Charles Carroll of Carrollton.”
As published in the National Gazette, Philadelphia, February 26, 1829, Charles Carroll wrote to George Washington’s adopted son, George Washington Parke Custis, who was President of the Society of Friends of Civil and Religious Liberty in Ireland:
“When I signed the Declaration of Independence I had in view not only
our independence from England but the toleration of all sects professing the Christian religion and communicating to them all great rights.
Happily, this wise and salutary measure has taken place for eradicating religious feuds and persecution and become a useful lesson to all governments.
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