Daniel Carroll

Home » History Greatest People » Daniel Carroll

Carroll was born in Upper Marlboro, county seat of Prince Georges County, Maryland on July 22, 1730, to a wealthy family.

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.

Carroll was sent abroad for his education.

Between 1742 and 1748 he studied under the Society of Jesus, 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.

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.

In 1781 Carroll entered the political arena.

Elected to the Continental Congress that year, he carried to Philadelphia the news that Maryland was at last ready to accede to the Articles of Confederation, to which he soon penned his name.

During the decade, he also began a tour in the Maryland senate that was to span his lifetime and helped George Washington promote the Patowmack Company, a scheme to canalize the Potomac River so as to provide a transportation link between the East and the trans-Appalachian West.

Carroll did not arrive at the Constitutional Convention until July 9, but thereafter he attended quite regularly.

He spoke about 20 times during the debates 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 state convention.

He was also a delegate from Maryland to the convention that sat in Philadelphia, 14 May to 17 Sept., 1787, and framed the Constitution of the United States.

Thomas Fitz-Simons of Pennsylvania was the only other Catholic among the members.

On his return to Maryland, Carroll was by his efforts largely instrumental in having the Constitution adopted by that State.

In opposition to the arguments of Samuel Chase, the Anti-Federalist leader in Maryland, he wrote and printed a public letter defending the proposed Constitution, the last sentences of which read: “If there are errors it should be remembered that the seeds of reformation are sown in the work itself and the concurrence of two-thirds of the Congress may at any time introduce alterations and amendments.

Regarding it then in every point of view with a candid and disinterested mind I am bold to assert that it is the best form of government which has ever been offered to the world” (Maryland Journal, 16 Oct., 1787).

On 15 April, 1791, Carroll and David Stuart, as the official commissioners of Congress, laid the corner-stone of the District of Columbia at Jones’s Point near Alexandria, Virginia.

When the Congress met in Washington for the first time, in November, 1800, Carroll and Notley Young owned the only two really comfortable and imposing houses within the bounds of the city.