Faith at Folly Quarter
The Declaration of Independence
On August 2, 1776, Charles Carroll of Carrollton signed his name to the Declaration of Independence as a representative from Maryland.
On July 4, 1776, as independence from the Mother country became inevitable, through the wisdom and influence of his lifelong friends Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Chase and William Paca, Charles Carroll III was elected as a delegate to the new revolutionary government—the Continental Congress. As the official representative of Maryland he signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776, signing his name “Charles Carroll of Carrollton,” distinguishing himself from his father and cousins with the same name. General George Washington himself praised Carroll for having practically financed the entire revolution personally. It was also through Washington’s praise of all Catholics who shed their blood together with their fellow countrymen and women, which did the most to help ease religious prejudice.
Carroll served in the Maryland senate from 1777-1800 and simultaneously was Maryland’s first national senator from 1789-1792. He was the director of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (the first railroad in the United States). He was seriously considered as a candidate for President following Washington’s first term. At the age of 63 Carroll founded the first bank of the United States and at 79 he founded the second bank of the United States. In 1797, Carroll bravely attempted to introduce legislation to begin slow abolition, but he was defeated in his quest. At the age of 91, Carroll was elected president of the American Colonization Society which bought land in Africa and settled freed slaves, helping them to form their own country, Liberia.
The Carroll Family
The Carroll Mansion on Lombard Street in Baltimore, Maryland. This house was given to Charles Carroll's eldest daughter, Polly, upon marrying Richard Caton. Carroll named Catonsville after this son-in-law.
Returning to his private life: Charles Carroll III married his nineteen year old cousin Molly Darnall in 1768. They had three children, Polly (Mary), Charles IV, and Catherine—all married non-Catholics. Polly, the eldest and favorite daughter, married Richard Caton, a Scotsman and cotton merchant, “a tall handsome man of fine presence and dignified carriage.” As a wedding present he gave the couple a house on Lombard Street in Baltimore (which is open to the public). Every winter the family would be together at this Lombard Street house—the Carroll Mansion. Polly and Richard Caton had four children, Marianne, Elizabeth, Louisa and Emily. The four girls were said to have been so lovely that European society called them “The American Graces.” In 1825, Marianne made an advantageous marriage to Richard Colley the first Marquess of Wellesley, Governor General of India and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
When his younger brother Arthur, the Duke of Wellington (conqueror of Napoleon), became the Prime Minister of England, Marquess Wellesley, always the benevolent administrator, even in the face of strong opposition, encouraged his brother to pass the Catholic Emancipation Bill—an act which made void all previous laws against Catholics.
The family continued to celebrate when the youngest daughter, Emily, the only Caton child not to marry English nobility and the only sister to have children, married John Lovat MacTavish, the British Consul to the port of Baltimore. Emily Caton was Carroll’s favorite granddaughter. She was the most self-sacrificing and endearing of all her sisters. It was always Emily who saw to it that things ran smoothly and that every family member or guest felt assured of her complete attention. Emily was the complete caretaker—nursing everyone through illnesses and other crises, most of them spending their final days in her care. In his later years, Carroll wished to give his granddaughter a lasting tribute of his affection. One thousand acres of land was sectioned or “quartered” from the Doughoregan estate and a retaining wall encircling three acres was built leveling a shady hill on which a great house would soon arise.