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The provincial convention, to CARROLL's disgust, disavowed any design of colonial independence. Unhappily for the province, CARROLL'S character, influence, and patriotic labors had attracted attention in Congress. Early in 1776 Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Chase, and CHARLES CARROLL as commissioners to Canada to secure her cooperation with the United Provinces against Great Britain. This plan, once hopeful, had become hopeless by the defeat and death of Montgomery, by the levying of contributions to feed our starying army, by the manifest incapacity of our commanders, and the inferiority of our forces. The Canadians were friendly, then suspicious, then irritated, then hostile. The population, nearly all Catholic, were turned against us by their priests. CHARLES CARROLL and Rev. John Carroll in vain tried to secure the aid of their coreligionists. CARROLL'S journal, in his excellent English, vividly tells this story of their inevitable failure. Canada was destined to remain a British dominion until a day in the distant future.
In CARROLL'S absence, on May 8, 1776, the Maryland Convention had again instructed the Maryland delegates in Congress not to agree to a final separation from Great Britain. Soon afterwards Hanson and the patriots of Frederick had sounded a trumpet call for complete independence.
CARROLL now hastened to Annapolis and resumed his seat to urge the repeal of these instructions, No time was to be lost. This was a crisis in the Revolution. On June 28, 1776, the new instructions advocated by CARROLL were given. On July 2, 1776, our Maryland delegates found themselves authorized to vote for independence.
The zeal and ability of CARROLL in winning his State to take this action he had so early and so steadily urged, led to his immediate appointment as a Delegate from Maryland to the Continental Congress. On July 4, 1776, CHARLES CARROLL of Carrollton was appointed, along with Matthew Tilghman, Thomas Johnson, William Paca, Samuel Chase, and Thomas Stone, Delegates to that famous Congress. CARROLL hastened to Philadelphia in time to vote on July 19 to engross this great paper. On August 2, Chase, Paca, Stone, and CARROLL affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Independence. CHARLES CARROLL of Carrollton with alacrity risked his life and his great fortune by signing this charter of the new Republic, “this document unparalleled in the annals of mankind.” The board of war was Adams, Sherman, Harrison, Wilson, and Rutledge, and to those CARROLL was soon added. Chairman John Adams tells us that on July 18 CARROLL was so chosen, and that he was “an excellent member, whose education, manners, and application to business and to study did honor to his fortune, the first in America."
In August CARROLL returned to a seat in the Maryland convention, which adopted the bill of rights and constitution which created Maryland a sovereign State.
It was CARROLL who suggested the mode of choosing the State senate of Maryland, which suggested, as Madison tells us, to the framers of the Federal Constitution the mode of choosing the Senators of this Senate, the method by which we now hold our seats here.
After the fashion of that day, CARROLL went to and from the State assembly and the Continental Congress. He belonged to both.
To his lasting honor, CARROLL unwaveringly supported on the board of war and in Congress the great commander, and helped defeat the Conway cabal, designed to put Gates in Washington's place. We find CARROLL in 1778 with the Maryland delegates urging the cession of the public lands to the Confederation, and steadily struggling to secure this sure foundation for the coming Federal Union, until he resigned from Congress at the close of 1778.
The French treaty gave CARROLL confidence in our ultimate success in the war, and he believed his services in the State senate of Maryland would be his most effective way to help the army in the field. There he advocated generous support of Washington, and voted troops and financial aid to the war. He steadily opposed confiscation of the property of British subjects, and also all the wild currency schemes to which our countrymen were then prone to turn for relief.
He firmly urged the Maryland policy of dedication of the Western territory to the Confederation.
He was in the Maryland senate leading the fight to secure Maryland's ratification of the Constitution of 1789. Long before liis fellows, CARROLL had advocated independence, and in advance of his associates he advocated a Federal Union. He had declined election to the Congress of the Confederation because he foresaw its powerlessness.
Washington and Gates, commissioners from Virginia, met CARROLL, Stone, and Samuel Hughes, commissioners from Maryland, to arrange to open and extend the navigation of the Potomac. They met December 22, 1784, at Annapolis, and later at Mount Vernon. The Maryland report asked that Pennsylvania and Delaware should be included, because the scheme of navigation included a canal between Delaware River and the Chesapeake. The outcome was the Annapolis convention of 1786, which led to the Federal Convention which framed our Constitution.
Thus the signer of the Declaration had a part in the beginning of the Constitution.
Under the new Constitution, CARROLL was elected to the First Congress as a Senator from Maryland. His colleague was John Henry. In April, 1789, he appeared in the Senate. Congress had assembled in the old city hall of New York. CARROLL, the friend of Washington, Hamilton, and Franklin, was a determined Federalist. He drew a two years' term in the Senate. He reported the now famous judiciary act. He declared for a standing army. He successfully labored to establish this Federal District, in whose Capitol his statue will hereafter stand. "He reported the assumption bill which buttressed the Federal Union. He was reelected to the Senate in 1791, but resigned that he might remain in the Maryland senate, a State statute now forbidding service in both bodies at the same time. In 1801 the party of Jefferson triumphed, and thereby, at sixty-three years of age, ended the public career of CHARLES CARROLL the Federalist. During thirty years of public life he had left his impress upon the times.
At his beautiful home, Doughoregan Manor, or at his town house in Baltimore, he spent the remaining thirty-three years of his long life, devoted to his large estate, to his home and kindred, to the Bible, to the classics, and to polite learning, always mindful of his religion and his country. On July 4, 1822, CARROLL helped lay the corner stone of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which he helped promote. He who, with Washington, forty years before sought by the Potomac navigation scheme to unite the Ohio with the sea, still a farseeing Federalist statesman at eighty-five years of age foresaw that the American Union could not have endured until our day without the railroads. For political and social purposes railroads and steamships, telegraphs and telephones, have made our vast country as compact and intimate as was New England a century ago.
At ninety years of age CARROLL was erect and vigorous, with the vivacity and grace of youth. In person he was small and slight. His face was strong, his eye piercing, his manners easy and winning. About this time he heard the impressive tidings of the death of Adams and Jefferson on the 4th of July, 1826. To him came the address of Daniel Webster upon Adams and Jefferson and that stately apostrophe to the last of the signers:
Of the illustrious signers of the Declaration of Indepen«ience there now remains only one, CHARLES CARROLL.
He seems an aged oak, standing alone on the plain, which time has spared a little longer after all of its contemporaries have been leveled with the dust. Venerable object! We delight to gather around its trunk while yet it stands, and to dwell beneath its shadow. Sole survivor of an assembly of as great men as the world has witnessed, in a transaction one of the most important that history records, what thoughts, what interesting reflections, must fill his elevated and devout soul! If he dwell on the past, how touching its recollections; if he survey the present, how happy, how joyous, how full of the fruition of that hope which his ardent patriotism indulged; if he glance at the future, how does the prospect of his country's advancement almost bewilder his weakened conception! Fortunate distinguished patriot! Interesting relic of the past! Let him know that while we honor the dead we do not forget the living; and that there is not a heart here which does not fervently pray that Heaven may keep him yet back from the society of his companions."
That solemn prayer was granted. CHARLES CARROLL of Carrollton lived until his ninety-sixth year, and on November 14, 1832, died with the calmness of a philosopher and with the faith of a holy man of God.
The work of CARROLL, and HANSON and their compatriots of the Revolution gave to the world the first true Federal State; and they built it to endure the storms and stress of civil war. They so cemented it that all fears of its disruption have disappeared forever. It is the great Republic of all history. In it the law is supreme. No man is so high as to be above the law. In the very fiber of the people is inbred a regard for law, which is the security of our rights and the basis of our prosperous and happy civil government. Yet under it the people shape their own destiny and unhindered walk in their own paths.
Looking back over the one hundred and twenty-seven years of our existence as a nation, one truth is luminous. The world would not if it could erase the great Republic from the map of the globe.
The future of civilization rests with the Anglo-Saxon race. Not the British Empire but the American Republic will lead that race onward to that future. Traditional, moral, political, and intellectual ties unite in a sense all who speak the English