Carrollton: A Maryland Plantation in Letters

The Carrollton letter-book contains a record of the business affairs of the household and estate of Charles Carroll (1737-1832), one of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Included in the volume are manuscript copies of invoices as well as business and personal letters addressed to correspondents in America and abroad. Born in Annapolis, Maryland, he received his early education at Jesuit colleges on the Continent and continued his study of law in France and England. Upon his return to Maryland in 1765 he established the plantation later called Carrollton, in Frederick County, Maryland. He was elected to the Continental Congress on August 2, 1776, the day he signed the Declaration.

In this letter, dated August 15, 1774, Carroll writes to two Irish merchants in Corke, requesting that they procure and send him a supply of claret from Bordeaux and, later in the fall, some port. The merchants are instructed to contact his bankers in London for payment. He makes his reasons clear:

The detestable Tyranny of the British Parliament, and the weak & wicked policy of an infatuated minister will probably occasion a closer connection between these colonies & Ireland than heretofore and probably between us. I may possibly endeavour to procure from Ireland thro' the channel of your house, some of those manufactures which I have hitherto constantly supplied my Family with from G. Britain, but which I am determined not to draw from that country whilst the present system prevails, should the greatest distress recoil on myself from such resolution.
Because it documents the commercial life of a colonial plantation, including the transactions between Carroll and his agents, customers, and merchant bankers abroad, the Carrollton letter-book is an excellent source of information about the conditions in an English colony right before and following the Revolutionary War.

Charles Carroll. Letter-Book of Carrollton Plantation. Bound manuscript, 1771-1833.
The New York Public Library, George Arents Collection on Tobacco.

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