Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Fourth of July

To commemorate the Fourth of July this year, let's recall Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.

My publisher, Scepter, includes this book in their catalog: Charles Carroll of Carrollton: Faithful Revolutionary--

Meet Charles Carroll of Carrollton: "A Roman Catholic but an ardent patriot." So said John Adams about the great Founding Father who originated the Electoral College, signed the Declaration of Independence, and fought tirelessly for religious liberty for Catholics in America. Charles Carroll is little-known today, but author Scott McDermott is determined to change that. In this illuminating biography, he paints a vivid picture of Carroll's tumultuous life that shows why this forgotten Founder is a heroic Catholic example needed now more than ever. McDermott uses Carroll's letters and other personal papers to bring you a well-rounded portrait of this complex and fascinating man. He also details the political and social currents that Carroll confronted during his long career. This book is a gripping introduction to a forgotten hero and a key contribution to the ongoing debate about the place of religion in public life.

Author Scott McDermott also provides an excellent introduction and analysis of the founding of Maryland by the Lords Baltimore as an English colony that demonstrated religious tolerance. Charles Carroll the Settler, Charles Carroll of Carrollton's grandfather, came to Maryland as Attorney General two weeks before the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the Church of England becoming the established church in Maryland. The new government imposed penal laws on Catholics, including fines for celebrating the Mass in public.

I highly recommend this book.

For background on the founders of Maryland, George Calvert, the First Lord Baltimore and his son Cecil Calvert, the Second Lord Baltimore, I recommend English and Catholic: The Lord Baltimore in the Seventeenth Century by John D. Krugler. The story George Calvert's reversion to his childhood faith, especially the detail about government interference in his parents' raising of their children and their education because they were Catholic, is fascinating.

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