Friday, July 03, 2015

Two on the Fourth

My parents had occasion to mention the New Carrollton, Maryland train station. Here's what I wrote back:

New Carrollton brings to mind some July 4th trivia. One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was Charles Carroll of Maryland. The Carrolls were a major Maryland family- there are actually a few "Carrolltons" in Maryland, which is why this one (which is named for Charles Carroll) changed their name to "New Carrollton." In fact, there were so many Charles Carrolls in the family ("Carroll," of course, is Latin for "Charles"), including his own father and son, that this one signed his name "Charles Carroll of Carrollton," after the place where he had a home (although a *different* place from New Carrollton), which is how it appears on the Declaration itself.

Maryland was founded by Catholics, but by this point had actually become very *anti* Catholic. The Carrolls were all Catholic and Charles couldn't enter a lot of professions in Maryland, but still managed to become very wealthy and prominent. He was the only Catholic to sign the Declaration. Just to show how short history can be, he was one of the founders of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, which ran right through Montgomery County, which is where we got started. :-) The "B&O" is one of the railroads in Monopoly and existed until relatively recently.

Carroll died in 1832, the last surviving signer of the Declaration (the last to die before him were two of the authors themselves, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who both died on July 4, 1826, fifty years to the day after the Declaration). The movie National Treasure, which is based on a supposed secret the Founders held, opens with his dying before he can fully reveal the secret, and the rest of the movie is about adventurers trying to solve it. In real life, his descendants remain a major Maryland family.

And now you've seen the word "Carroll" so often it's lost all meaning. :-) Don't forget to get a fifth on the third to have a happy Fourth!
(From yesterday:)

John Adams, in a letter to Abigail right after American Independence had been declared:

"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

Well, he was right about all but one thing: He wrote the letter on the third of July, and was talking about the *second* of July, which is, in fact, the actual date of the United States' declaring independence. Look it up. Happy Independence Day!


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