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Charles Carroll of Carrollton: “men blinded by party spirit are not to be cured by reason but by sufferings”

Baltimore, 26th February 1814

I have read with much pleasure your speech at Annapolis; you have perspicuously traced the causes of our war with Great Britain to their real origin and have exposed the disgraceful intrigues and falsehoods of the Administration by which they have gradually led Congress to declare it. If the war party could divest themselves of their hatred to England and consider dispassionately the contents of your address, I should hope the perusal of it would be followed by happy consequences. But men blinded by party spirit are not to be cured by reason but by sufferings, and the great mass of the people have not yet suffered enough to make them sick of the war.

Engraving of "Charles Carroll of Carrollton"
Engraving of “Charles Carroll of Carrollton” by Samuel M. Wilson. University of Kentucky, pa62w8.

On February 26, 1814, Charles Carroll of Carrollton wrote to his son-in-law Robert Goodloe Harper (continuing their  correspondence from January) to praise his recent speech in Annapolis.

Throughout the war, members of the Federalist Party, like Carroll and Harper, expressed serious concerns about the conflict with Great Britain and offered sharp criticism of President James Madison. In Baltimore, the debate between Federalists and supporters of the Democratic-Republican Party turned violent when a group of rioters destroyed the offices of the Federalist newspaper The Federal Republican on June 20, 1814. In a second attack in July, a mob brutally assaulted and tortured the newspaper publisher Alexander Contee Hanson and eight of his employees and associates. In 1816, Contee succeeded Robert Goodloe Harper as a United States Senator for Maryland.

Carroll’s February 1814 letter continues below:

Continue reading Charles Carroll of Carrollton: “men blinded by party spirit are not to be cured by reason but by sufferings”

On January 16, 1814, Charles Carroll of Carrollton wrote to his son-in-law Robert Goodloe Harper. His letter rejected Baltimore’s burgeoning optimism for a quick end to the war with England:

“Till Bonaparte is defeated so as to be forced to relinquish all his conquests and to make peace, or what would be more desirable till death rids the world of the tyrant, I am persuaded no peace will take place between this country and England.”

Carroll retired from public life in 1801—a public life that included signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and nearly 20 years in the Maryland State Senate. Retirement did little to slow Carroll’s correspondence. He spent the winter of 1813-1814, living at Doughoregan near Ellicott City and wrote often to Harper worrying over the mismanagement of his farm near Annapolis and the events of the war.

Source: Rowland, Kate Mason. 1898. The Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 1737-1832: With His Correspondence and Public Papers. G.P. Putnam’s Sons.