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At the age of twenty, he entered upon the study of law in London, where he ripened into manhood, and returned to his native state in 1764, with a rich and enduring fund of useful knowledge, prepared to act well his part through future life.
The subject of American oppression by the British ministry was freely discussed in England during his stay, and had prepared his mind for the exciting crisis that awaited the colonies. In Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, the friends of freedom and equal rights found an unflinching and able advocate, and the enemies of liberty an uncompromising but manly opposer. He possessed a clear head, a good heart, and a discriminating mind. In action, he was cool and deliberate, firm and decisive. As a lawyer, he was learned, lucid, and logical; as a statesman, bold, discreet, and industrious; as a patriot, pure, disinterested, and zealous; as a christian, devoted, exemplary, and consistent; and as a gentleman, urbane, accomplished, and courteous. His talent for writing was also of a high order. This was fully developed in 1772, in a controversy between the people and the king's governor, who had issued a proclamation derogatory to their inalienable rights. In a series of communications published in the public papers, Mr. Carroll boldly, ably, and triumphantly espoused the people's cause, answering conclusively and confuting completely the combined arguments of the governor's cabinet in favour of the pretensions of their master. So fully were the people convinced by the essays of Mr. Carroll that they were clearly right, that they hung the proclamation upon a gallows, and bid defiance to the minions of
despotism. Before it was known who was the writer, the citizens of # Annapolis instructed their representatives to record a vote of thanks
to the author, and when they subsequently ascertained that Mr. Carroll was the champion who had bearded the British lion, they repaired in a body to his house, and made the welkin ring with heartfelt thanks and plaudits of praise.
From that time forward he became a prominent leader of the liberal party, an espouser of American rights, and a stern opposer of
parliamentary wrongs. His benign influence radiated its genial rays upon the hearts, and confirmed the wavering minds of many in the glorious cause of liberty. He went for his country and his whole country. He portrayed, in bold and glowing colours, the oppressions of the king, the corruptions and designs of his ministers, and the humiliating consequences of tame submission to their arbitrary demands. He was among the first to kindle the flame of patriotic resistance, and light the torch of independence. He was among the first to sanction the declaration of rights, and the last of that noble band of patriots who signed this sacred instrument, that bid it a long, a final farewell, and took his exit to "that country where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest."
On the 18th of July, 1776, he was elected to the convention of Maryland, and on the 2nd of August following, took his seat in the Continental Congress, and affixed his name to the chart of liberty. His talents and zeal were highly appreciated by the members of that august body. He had previously endeared himself to them by a
voluntary mission to Canada, in conjunction with the Rev. John Carroll, Benjamin Franklin, and Samuel Chase. The object of this mission was to persuade the people of Canada to unite with the colonies in bursting the chains of slavery, and throw off the yoke of bondage that had been forced upon them by the mother country. The Messrs. Carrolls being of the Roman Catholic faith, then most prevalent among the Canadians, and the other two gentlemen entertaining that universal charity for others, that, if exercised at the present day, would crumble to dust the sectarian walls of partition that are now the greatest barriers against the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom, it was fondly hoped that their influence might induce the people of that country to join against the common enemy. The defeat and death of Montgomery, and the dark prospects of future success, caused them to determine on a contrary course. The consequences of that course are at this time developing themselves most fearfully, amidst the dying groans and streaming blood of the oppressed citizens of Canada.
On his return from this mission, Mr. Carroll found, to his great surprise, that the delegates from Maryland then in Congress, had been instructed to vote against the declaration of independence. He immediately repaired to the convention, and, by his eloquence and cogent reasoning, convinced the members of their error, who immediately rescinded the former and gave contrary instructions.
Although an active and efficient member of Congress, Mr. Carroll occasionally returned to Maryland, and aided in the formation of its constitution and laws. In 1778, he left the national legislature, and, for several years, was a member of the senate of Maryland. From 1788 to 1791, he was a member of the United States' senate, when his services were again demanded by his native state, where he served as a senator until 1801, when he retired from the great theatre of public action, where he had acted a conspicuous and glorious part, that stamped his name with unfading glory, his memory with lasting gratitude and enduring fame.
In private life, Mr. Carroll lost none of the laurels that decked his brow when in the service of his beloved country. Of an amiable and kind disposition, he was highly esteemed by his friends and respected by all. Temperate in all things his course was consistent, charitable, and systematic. He was an exemplary christian, and was ever opposed to a spirit of persecution by one sect against another for opinion's sake. He was among the few who reason correctly and act wisely upon this important subject. It is a fact, unknown perbaps to many, and admitted by fewer still, that the Roman Catholics of Maryland were the first who proposed and passed into a law religious toleration in America. See laws of the general assembly of that state, 1647.] It is also a fact which is equally true, that the Protestants were the first who introduced proscription, and obtained an order from Charles II., after his restoration in 1661, to disfranchise all Roman Catholics from holding any office, taking the loaves and fishes exclusively into their own keeping, in violation of the charter granted to Lord Baltimore by Charles I., and in violation of reason,
common sense, and the laws of God. Sectarianism is not religion, nor a child of heaven.
The Protestants having become the bride of state, and having the power in their own hands, carried on their principles of proscription under the authority of William III. The Roman Catholics were taxed to support the religion of their oppressors, and by an act passed in 1704, the celebration of mass or the instruction of youth by a Catholic, insured him a transportation to England.
During the excitements produced by this unhallowed connection of church and state, which several times resulted in bloodshed, the Carrolls used their best exertions to produce a reconciliation between the parties. This was never fully effected until the revolution compelled all persuasions to unite in the common cause against the common enemy
For thirty years Mr. Carroll enjoyed the cheering comforts of “sweet home," and survived to hear the funeral knell of all the other signers of the Declaration of Independence.
He enjoyed the rich reward of seeing the fruits of his labour, in conjunction with his compatriots of the revolution, prospering under the direction of an all wise Providence and a free and independent people. He beheld, with increased delight, the onward march of his favoured country, to which he had contributed largely in giving it a name and character among the nations of the earth, at once admired and respected.
He beheld, with increasing gratitude to Heaven, the asylum he had aided in preparing for those whom the oppression of kings and tyrants drive from their native shores. As one of the signers of the chart of freemen, he stood alone, like a majestic oak that has long withstood the raging tempest, calmly awaiting the time when he should be riven and gathered to his fathers. Already had his mind ascended the golden chain of faith, reaching from earth to Heaven; already had the world lost its former charms; already had his mind become fixed on scenes of future and purer bliss; already had he reached out his hand to receive a crown of immortal glory; already had he anticipated the joyful welcome he should receive from his Lord and Master; when, on the 14th of November, 1832, his spirit was summoned from its trembling, tottering tenement of clay to realins of joy beyond the skies. Calm and resigned he entered Jordan's flood; angels escorted his soul to Immanuel's happy shores, whilst his grateful country mourned deeply and felt strongly the loss of one of her noblest sons and purest patriots.
In the life of Charles Carroll, we have an example worthy the imitation of youth, of manhood, of old age; of the lawyer, the statesman, the patriot and the christian. His career was guided by virtue and prudence; his every action marked with honesty, frankness, and integrity; richly meriting, and freely receiving the esteem and veneration of a nation of FREEMEN.
GREAT designs require the deep consideration of strong and investigating minds. Great events open a wide field for virtue and fame, and bring to view powers of intellect, that, under ordinary circumstances, would never unfold their beauties to mortal eyes. Hence the brilliancy of talent that illuminated the glorious era of the American revolution. Many who became eminent statesmen and renowned heroes during that memorable struggle, in times of peace, would have remained within the sphere of their particular occupations-lived retired from the public gaze, and died without a full developement of their mental powers. That many of the sages of that eventful period were men of unusual talents and acquirements, I freely admit; that the momentous transactions that engaged their attention served to add a more vivid lustre to their names than the common routine of life would have given them, is equally true. The perils that encompassed them, the dangers that threatened them, the dark clouds that hung over them, the noble patriotism that influenced them, and the mighty work they conceived, planned, and consummated, all combined to shed a sacred halo around them.
Among those whose natural desires did not lead them into the public arena, was WILLIAM WILLIAMS, the son of the Rev. Solomon Williams, D. D. He was a native of the town of Lebanon, Windham county, Connecticut, and was born on the 8th of April, 1731. His paternal ancestors were Welsh, one of whom immigrated from Wales in 1630. They were remarkable for piety and a love of liberty. His father was the highly esteemed and able pastor of the first congregational church in Lebanon, during the long period of fifty-six years. Deeply impressed with the importance of storing the youthful mind with a good education, virtuous principles, and moral truth, he spared no pains in furnishing his sons and daughters with the means of ex; ploring the fields of science. His own mind imbued with liberal principles and expansive views, his children naturally imbibed the same feelings. His own soul enraptured with the beauties of genuine and practical piety, he desired and had the happiness to see his offspring, one after another, consecrate themselves to the Lord of glory by a public profession of the christian faith. At an early age
William Williams became a member of the church over which his father presided, and adorned his profession through life. After he had com, pleted his preparatory studies, he entered Harvard College and graduated in 1751. Xe sustained a high reputation for correct deportment, untiring industry, and scholastic lore. His father then directed his theological studies in order that he might be prepared, if
so inclined, to enter the sacred desk. His talents were of a varie. gated character, combining a taste for the classics, mechanics, architecture, mathematics and general science.
Feeling an inclination to travel beyond the confines of his juvenile perambulations, in 1755 he accepted a commission in the staff of Colonel Ephraim Williams, a kinsman of his, and founder of the college of that name at Williamstown, Massachusetts. A detachment, put under the command of Colonel Williams, consisting of eleven hundred men, was sent by Sir William Johnson, who commanded the English troops, to reconnoitre the army under Baron Dieskau, composed of a large body of French and Indians. After proceeding about four miles, Colonel Williams was attacked by a superior force lying in ambuscade. He commenced a spirited defence, but fell in the early part of the action, bravely fighting for the mother country. The detachment then fell back upon the main body in good order, which advanced and repulsed the enemy.
The French war, in which the colonies were not interested, the acquirements of which are still held by Great Britain, cost much American blood and treasure. The pilgrim fathers were long treated and used as mere vassals of the English crown. During that campaign, William Williams became disgusted with the hauteur of the British officers and with the manner they treated native Americans, who were by far the most efficient in conducting the Indian mode of warfare. Being ardent in his feelings and of a warm temperament, he resolved never again to submit to their indignities, and returned home and commenced the mercantile business.
Soon after, he was elected town clerk, a member of the assembly, and appointed a justice of the peace. These were not solicited honours, but awarded to him by his fellow citizens as the reward of merit. Similar demonstrations of confidence were continued to him for more than fifty years. For a long time he was either clerk or speaker of the house of representatives in his native state, in which he served Dearly one hundred sessions.
When the revolutionary storm began to darken the horizon of public tranquillity, Mr. Williams freely confronted its raging fury. He was an able debater, an eloquent speaker, and a bold advocate of his country's rights. Extensively and favourably known, his influence
When the tocsin of war was finally sounded, he closed his mercantile concerns and devoted his whole time to the glorious cause of equal rights and rational liberty. His learning, piety, experience in public affairs, honesty of purpose, and energy of action, combined to give great weight to his character. He was an active member of the council of safety, and on the second Thursday in October, 1775, was appointed a representative of the Continental Congress. He entered zealously into the deliberations of that revered body, and became prominent and useful. He was ever ready to go as far as any one in promoting the liberation of his bleeding country from the serpentine coils of oppressive tyranny. He was in favour of bold and vigorous measures, and advocated the declaration of rights from its incipient conception to its final adoption. He was instru
had a wide range.