By Scott McDermott
Charles Carroll (1737-1832) is one of the most important influences on the birth and early development of the United States. Although barred from voting or holding office in his native colony of Maryland on the eve of the Revolution, he actively worked for independence both before and after the outbreak of fighting in 1775. As the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence and member of the Continental Congress, he implicitly supported Catholic social principles in the government of the emerging country and in its formative Constitutional period.
Carroll elaborated a natural law basis for the idea of government legitimately based on the popular consent. And guided by the Catholic distinction between state and civil society he worked for a form of government whose power would be limited, checked, and balanced. Himself a victim of religious intolerance as a member of a minority religion, he supported the ending of state-sanctioned churches in order to allow religion to flourish on the basis of free personal choice. This development alone was probably the most significant in the future growth and influence of the United States, as it averted the main cause of religious warfare, and encouraged future immigration from non-English as well as non-Christians in generations to come.
Scott McDermott received his Ph.D. in American History from Saint Louis University in 2014. He is currently Assistant Professor of History at Albany State University in Albany, Georgia. Scott was born in Hannibal, Missouri and currently lives in Georgia. This is his first book.
“That Catholicism is today the largest religion in the U.S….can largely be credited to the persistence of Carroll and his extended family.” -Initiatives, February 2003
“A fine study in American history that also offers fascinating insights into our Catholic heritage.”— Michael Miller, National Catholic Register, January 12, 2003
"Scott McDermott has made Charles Carroll of Carrollton more of a celebrity than I ever thought he was.”– John Goodspeed, The Star Democrat, Easton, MD.