Charles Carroll's Political Role in the American Revolution

Instructor: Nate Sullivan

Nate Sullivan holds a M.A. in History and a M.Ed. He is an adjunct history professor, middle school history teacher, and freelance writer.

In this lesson we will learn about Charles Carroll. We will highlight the key events and achievements in his life and explore his role in the American Revolution.

Who Was Charles Carroll?

Charles Carroll is one of those Revolutionary figures who we typically don't hear much about unless we are studying state history in-depth. But like the other Founding Fathers, he played an important role in the birth of the American Republic. So who was Charles Carroll and what did he do?

Charles Carroll (1737-1832) was a Catholic patriot from Maryland, who, in addition to being a signer of the Declaration of Independence, served in the Continental Congress. He was also involved in an exciting event that we might go so far as to call the 'Annapolis Tea Party,' but we will learn about this shortly.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton.
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Early Life and Background

Charles Carroll was born in Annapolis, Maryland in 1737. He was the only child of Charles Carroll (Sr.) and Elizabeth Brooke. As a young boy he attended a local Jesuit school before traveling to France to continue his education. In 1765 he returned home to Maryland. Like his father, Charles was Roman Catholic in religion. The colony of Maryland had been founded as a safe haven for English Catholics, so this region was home to significant numbers of Catholics, including the Carroll family. They were exceptionally wealthy and Charles Carroll inherited significant land and wealth from his father. This made Charles a prominent citizen in the area.

Role in the American Revolution

By the outbreak of the American Revolution, Charles had adopted a pro-revolution view. In 1772 he began writing anonymously in the Maryland Gazette under the pseudonym 'First Citizen.' In particular, Carroll argued that the colonies ought to regulate their own taxation. Arguing against him in these written debates was Daniel Dulany the Younger, a respected Loyalist, who wrote under the name 'Antillon.' When the 'First Citizen's' identity was revealed, Carroll's notoriety sky-rocketed, and he emerged as a leading Maryland patriot.

In October of 1774, Carroll gave his consent to have a British ship (the Peggy Stewart) and its contents of tea burned while docked at Annapolis Harbor. This act has been called the 'Annapolis Tea Party'. Like the Boston Tea Party, it was an act of defiance against British authority.

The Annapolis Tea Party.
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