First Citizen and Antilon: The Carroll-Dulany Debates and Their Impact on American Religious Freedom

In the current settings of the HHS mandate, some Catholics in America have come to feel as if there is no hope left; Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria said, "I am honestly horrified that the nation I have always loved has come to this hateful and radical step in religious intolerance." Intolerance or religious persecution is of course not new and the issue today brings to mind an important and underappreciated chapter in American history.

In 1774 Maryland remained undecided on the issue of American independence sweeping across mainly Calvinist New England. While the Stamp Act was unpopular overall, the issue of separation had far less of a following than in New England. A debate between a man calling himself "First Citizen" and another calling himself "Antilon" appeared in the Maryland Gazette that would become the focal point of Maryland opinion. These two men were Charles Carroll of Carrollton and Daniel Dulany the Younger. They were both wealthy, European educated aristocrats in the colony, yet both had decidedly different experiences and trials in Maryland.


Maryland was a land that had gone through many tumultuous changes throughout its early history. Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore, left Ireland to escape persecution and settle in a new colony where Catholics were welcome. Baltimore purchased the colony of Maryland in 1629 and in 1637 he arrived in newly found Maryland, naming the first town St. Mary's City. The colony was to be populated by both Catholics and Protestants.

Fearing a repeat of the religious battles of England, Baltimore implemented the Maryland Toleration Act of 1649, granting all Trinitarian Christians the right to their faith; however, it also prevented citizens from criticizing other faiths. This experiment, while revolutionary, was short lived. After the Glorious Revolution of 1689, all Catholics with peerage were disenfranchised and, in America, Maryland's laws regarding religious freedom went downhill. Catholics lost their right to educate their children, attend Mass, and were forced to pay a double tax. In order to retain control of his family's land, Charles III's second son, Benedict, renounced his Catholic faith and became an Anglican. Thus began a long troubling period for Maryland's Catholic population.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Charles Carroll of Carrollton was born illegitimate and into wealth to Charles Carroll of Annapolis and Elizabeth Brooke. His parents did not enter into a legal marriage until he achieved adulthood. Catholic children were sometimes taken by the Colonial government and sent to orphanages in England and never saw their parents again. Further, Carroll would by common law inherit his father's entire estate as the first born son. His father used his wealth to protect much of the Catholic population of Maryland from Colonial authorities. Masses could only be said in private homes. Catholic school houses were often destroyed. His father sent Charles to be educated in France at the age of 11 at St. Omer and later law at Louie-le-Grande in Paris. St. Omer was a Jesuit institution where English and Irish Catholics who were wealthy enough would send their children due to laws that prohibited from educating Catholics at home. After receiving his education in France he went to further his studies in London. After 19 years in Europe, Charles returned to Maryland, where he joined his father in business. He was not, however, able to take advantage of his law degree due to laws in Maryland preventing Catholics from practicing law or participating in politics. Ironically the psuedonym he used for his public discourse was First Citizen.

Daniel Dulany the Younger

Dulany was born into a powerful Anglican family in Maryland. Like Carroll, he was also sent to Europe for his education, studying law at Eton College at Cambridge University in England. Upon finishing his education, he returned to Maryland and was admitted to the bar. There he became a very well respected lawyer. He married Rebecca Tasker, the daughter of another powerful Maryland family, thus unifying their families in wealth, prestige and power. He served in the Maryland parliament where he often found himself in opposition to the Colonial government. Though an avid loyalist, Dulany was noted for his opposition to the 1765 Stamp Act, believing that taxation should not be without representation. He took the pseudonym Antilon.

The Debate

The "tobacco fee controversy" began in 1770 when the 1747 system was retired. The system went back to 1702, when Anglican (as the state church) clergy had received a state tobacco fee from individuals amounting to the cost of 40 pounds of tobacco. However it was not made law as King William III had not signed the legislation prior to his death. In 1747, the Maryland government made it a colonial edict and set the fee at 30 pounds per person. During the Stamp Act controversy however, many Marylanders began to question the system, the rigid fees, and why it went to the State Church. In 1770, the law expired; tobacco growers including Carroll had started their own private inspection agencies. The clergy wanted the 1747 system to continue; further, they wanted to be paid the 1707 rate of 40 pounds and to be paid in tobacco and not in cash. Despite the situation's contentiousness, Robert Eden, Maryland's Royal Governor, passed the clergy's fee system by proclamation. This was like a tinderbox set on a colony still deeply divided over the Stamp Act, and furthered the anger against the Crown.

In 1773, the Maryland Gazette began publishing debates between First Citizen and Second Citizen, all written by Daniel Dulany. The first debate sent in by Dulany made the First Citizen look like a fool, a crazed man, possibly an anarchist. While Second Citizen looked like a reasoned man albeit logical to the point of dry. Carroll saw faults in the fictitious debate, so he wrote a response to the Maryland Gazette. This lengthy response was a very different debate between First and Second Citizen, one that made first citizen look like a witty champion of liberty and second citizen a man desperately clinging to the power at the expense of the free loving people of Maryland, and implicated those government officials as the threat to liberty. It was common knowledge that Carroll was first citizen yet despite his Catholic faith, his response was received with great respect by Marylanders. Dulany, who was seemingly insulted by this attack on his character, did not let this go unnoticed. He wrote a response to Carroll's letter, this time as Antilon. Antilon's new second citizen was different, directly attacking Carroll for his faith. He wasted no time in attacking his opponent's First Citizen as a subversive Jesuit agent bent on destroying English liberties gained during the Glorious Revolution, with an eye to reinstating the old Jacobite order. According to him, whom should one trust—this Catholic taught at St. Omer's whose presumed goal was to destroy the very fabric of English society? Or Second Citizen—a Cambridge educated lawyer, loyal to the Crown, who challenged First Citizen's view of government ministers as a negative and wore his ministry, proudly as a positive to the colony? He accused First Citizen of being irrational and not wanting to give the dues to the Clergy who rightly deserved the pay.

Carroll's response was perhaps not what was expected by Dulany. He indeed, perhaps borrowing from the tradition of St. Robert Bellarmine and those of 16th century Catholic thinkers, agreed that the English people had the right to remove James II during the glorious revolution of 1688. In doing so, he secured his support among the prevailing Whig Protestant population who might have had reservations about him. He went further in saying that Governor Eden's decision to put in place an unconstitutional tax was the fault of his ministers, first accusing Dulany himself of being the author of the tax.

The impact was profound among the colonists; Dulany himself was falling short of the Whig tradition of constitutionalism that he had espoused. Carroll had become a celebrity in the colony, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer told Carroll the elder that "Your son is a most flaming patriot"—no small praise for a Catholic by a Protestant in pre-revolutionary Maryland.

The supporters of the tobacco fee became concerned by Carroll's support. A man appeared in the Gazette calling himself "Clericus Philogeralethobolus" and continued the straw man attacks on First Citizen for his Jesuit education and Catholic religion. A theme followed in Antilon's third letter; he even attacked Carroll's very right to refer to himself as a citizen.

Clericus wrote a second letter citing the banishment of Jesuits from Portugal as a reason to distrust them. Carroll's response focused on the constitutionality of the tobacco fee: "Our constitution is founded on jealousy and suspicion, its true spirit, and full vigor cannot be preserved without the most watchful care, and strictest vigilance of the representatives over the conduct of the administration."

He continued to hammer the point that parliament was the only place that could institute taxes or "fees," further saying that "…Rates by proclamation would be illegal and unconstitutional." After his third letter, the election was held and Carroll stood victorious. His popularity and respect extended throughout Maryland and beyond. But Dulany did not concede without writing a final letter, this one warning that by following the papist First Citizen, the people of Maryland risked losing their liberties as English citizens. Carroll asked whether his Catholicism should preclude him from public discussion? If so, it was not he, but Antilon who was the inquisitor. He noted how Catholics had not been treated well in the colonies. But rather than making himself hostile to his Protestant friends, he instead reached out and publically forgave Antilon and those who had attacked him for his faith.

The Impact

The Maryland elections of 1773 fell in favor of those opposing Governor Eden's tobacco fee proclamation. Further, it made Charles Carroll of Carrollton a well respected figure in Maryland and the Colonies. In 1774, Carroll and his father would sit on the Annapolis Convention that would later vote to send Carroll, a Catholic, to represent Maryland at the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He was then made representative for all of Maryland. He later donated much of the land on which Washington D.C. was built. He also was one of the primary investors in America's first train line, the Baltimore & Ohio railroad line, and was the man to nail the final rail piece at the opening. He was the last living signator of the Declaration of Independence, and lived long enough to be interviewed by Alexis de Tocqueville, who said of him, "this race of men is disappearing after having provided America with her greatest spirits." Carroll died in 1832 at 95 in Baltimore. He hoped that his enduring legacy would be that civil and religious liberties he helped secure would survive for the generations to come.

Dulany did not fair as well, he remained a Loyalist to the end and his property was confiscated during the American Revolution. He was later renumerated by the British for his devotion to the Crown. He left for England for the entirety of the war and returned to Maryland where he would die in 1797, still respected as a lawyer.

Samuel Hearne is a writer who lives in Australia.