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American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll (Lives of the Founders) Hardcover – February 15, 2010
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About the Author
Bradley J. Birzer holds the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in History at Hillsdale College. The author or editor of four other books, he has written and taught extensively on the American experience. Birzer also serves as chairman of the board of academic advisors for the Center for the American Idea in Houston and as a Non-Resident Fellow for the McConnell Center, University of Louisville. He and his family live in Michigan.
Top Customer Reviews
Charles Carroll was a Roman Catholic, a Marylander, scion of one of early America's largest fortunes. Educated in Europe by he Jesuits, Carroll returned to his native country a disenfranchised alien. Birzer's biography paints a delightful picture of a cautious reformer whose "revolutionary" actions were aimed at preventing a revolution against the inherited rights of Anglo-Americans. Carroll, friend and disciple of Burke, stood for old ways and rooted rights. Not an abstract speculator, Carroll took his stand with the great Western tradition. Identified by Birzer as the "last of the Romans," Carroll's mind was able to transcend the limitations of the Whig tradition by seeing its continuity, not only with the Roman Republic, but uniting the classical patrimony with the insights of the Church Fathers, the medieval scholastics, and the modern (i.e. the 17th and 18th century republican tradition). Thus, by understanding the mind of Carroll we are able to better understand America's continuity with, and reform of, the tradition of Western Christendom. Carroll, like his biographer, was a man of the West and friends of the great tradition will be edified by this fine book.
Bradley Birzer has once again succeeded in restoring the place of a forgotten spirit in American history. As with his earlier Sanctifying the World, the beautiful biographic of Christopher Dawson, American Cicero reveals both the politics and the person of it's central figure, this time in the man of Charles Carroll of Maryland. Birzer weaves Charles Carroll's rise as leader of the fledgling republic with his filial ascendancy to a Maryland landowning dynasty. Through Carroll's letters and editorial acumen the reader discovers a youthful and passionate statesman who gave a large part of his life and livelihood to help establish a republic which could withstand the dynamic forces of the multiplex culture.
Though Carroll's role in shaping the young nation is made clear, Birzer's portrayal of Carroll does not whitewash the leader's often contentious relationship with those who at this turning point of history were unable to see its continuity with political tradition. Carroll's support of independence from the British Empire was balanced with a concern for the abandonment of the virtuous republic advocated by those pursuing a radical democracy. Carroll recognized the necessity of foundations laid by past generations and the necessary stability which such foundations offer.Read more ›
As a Roman Catholic, Charles Carroll suffered various legal disabilities under Maryland colonial law, including not being able to vote, not being able to hold public office, and not being able to claim citizenship in Maryland. Despite those legal impediments, Charles Carroll actively engaged in Maryland colonial politics by writing public letters and advocating positions on important issues that were leading up to the American Revolution. Charles Carroll's public advocacy led to his becoming accepted by many of his fellow Marylanders and being allowed to actively participate in Maryland politics. Also, Charles Carroll became involved in political activities beyond Maryland that were in support of the American Revolution, including his signing of the Declaration of Independence. After the American Revolution, Charles Carroll served in the Maryland Senate and the U.S. Senate.
In general, the author supports his commentary and contentions with references to various historical sources. One flaw with the book is the author's occasional attempt to speculate about matters for which he acknowledges there is no documentary evidence or other support. The effect of that flaw is minimized because the author is open and candid about when he is engaging in such speculations, so the reader can be aware of when the author is speculating.
Carroll's role in building an intellectual framework for Independence from England, his epic letters in the Maryland Gazette under the nom de plume "First Citizen" and his Catholic faith marked his State and his new country in a most formative manner.
Bradley Birzer's book is a compelling history of a remarkable man and I recommend it as a primary reference to the American revolution from a Catholic perspective in General, and a Maryland context in particular. Birzer brings to life in the pages of his book the "Annapolis Tea Party", which I am sure many Americans have never heard of although it is an important milestone on the path American Independence,
Carrol's classical education in France with the Jesuits caused much suspicion in the Protestant majority when he returned to Maryland, though they certainly didn't mind his logical dismantling of the authority and control of taxation by the Colonial oligarchs through his letters in Maryland's Gazette. Catholic landowners were denied the franchise in the colonial period and so the rigorous support Charles Carrol provided to the cause of independence [intellectually and financially], as the book posits, greatly contributed to the reversal of the prejudice against his religion and may be thought to have led Congress to the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best books about our founding fathers that I have ever read. It goes in to his background and education so you know how Charles Carroll thinks and his thought process. Read morePublished 17 months ago by phyllis gneuhs
and maybe one or two more are well known. But there are many more very important founding fathers we need to remember. Read morePublished on March 21, 2014 by avidreader
I found the book interesting though I would not put it on the list of great biographies I have read in the last decade. Read morePublished on September 21, 2013 by James C. Casterline
The book is easy to read and is short. It gives a good overall biography of
Caroll but if you want a deeper history look at another work. Read more
Great historical information on my family, all Clan Cian should read this book and share it with others. that's it.Published on March 14, 2013 by alberta owens
It's intriguing to view the thought of one of America's founders (born in 1737), and humbling to learn of this founder's role in the freedoms we take for granted. Read morePublished on July 21, 2012 by Carol DeChant
The book was a good read on a man who has been forgotten by history. It was by no means hard to read. Read morePublished on May 28, 2012 by Brutus