Founding Fathers Black Hills

Maryland takes on N. Carolina in Carroll v. Hooper


It’s Maryland against North Carolina in this week’s Founding Fathers Contest.
Charles Carroll, of Maryland, was the only Roman Catholic among the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Carroll has another distinction as well. He lived until the ripe old age of 95, and was the last living signer, dying in 1832.
William Hooper had a much shorter lifespan. He died of complications of malaria in 1790 at age 48.

Hooper, of North Carolina, was a staunch supporter of independence, but he didn’t much care for politics in general. He was a moderate who was regarded as an articulate spokesman for American rights. But he was also a bit of an aloof aristocrat who didn’t trust democracy or the unwashed masses much, either. He got mostly disdain from both sides. Loyalists hated him for his anti-British sentiments and patriots disliked him because he didn’t agree with brutalizing Loyalists.
While John Adams held Hooper in high regard as a politician, he soon tired of politics and left Congress in 1777, saying “I am weary of politics. It is a study that corrupts the human heart, degrades the idea of human nature and drives men to the expedients that morality must condemn.”
We wonder how Adams, Jefferson and the other members of congress felt about that statement.
Poor Hooper didn’t fare well during the Revolutionary War, either. He lost two homes to the British army and he was forced to live on the run for months, separated from his family. In that process, he caught malaria and he never really recovered his health. He lived just long enough to see the U.S. Constitution ratified.
Charles Carroll
Carroll was even more of an aristocrat than Hooper — much richer than Hooper and a member of one of the wealthiest families in America. But even if you were rich and living in Catholic-friendly Maryland, it was hard to be Catholic at that time in history. His money helped to shelter him from the worst of the anti-Catholicism, but it was his ability to communicate the patriots’ perspective in writing that got him sent to Philadelphia. He wrote many newspaper articles, anonymously at first, against the idea of taxation without representation.
And in last week’s squeaker of a contest, it was James Wilson of Pennsylvania defeating Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts by just two votes, 41 to 39. Way to go, Mr. Wilson!