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title:“Daniel Carroll: Notes and Correspondence”
authors:Daniel Carroll
date written:1788-5-20

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 7:56 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Sept. 27, 2023, 10:07 p.m. UTC

Carroll, Daniel. "Daniel Carroll: Notes and Correspondence." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.
The University of Michigan, McHenry manuscripts.

Daniel Carroll: Notes and Correspondence (May 20, 1788)

These papers in the handwriting of Daniel Carroll were found among the McHenry manuscripts. They are reprinted here from the American Historical Review, XI, 619-624. They are put here under the date of the last two items, — the letters of McHenry — in order to bring them all together. See also CCIII above.
Copy of what Col. Mercer gave me [Daniel Carroll] at Annapolis during the sitting of the Assembly.
Mr. Mercer had during the sitting of the Convention at Pha. a list of the members of that body taken down on the printed Constitution, and against their names, these words — for and against. Mr. McHenry seeing it (without its being shewn to him) at the table where the Members from the State sat copied it without the leave or interference of Mr. Mercer and added Mr. Mercers name with those of Mr. Martin and himself — as against. Mr Mercer askd him what authority he had for setting him down against. Mr. McHenry made some reply rather in a light manner — that he had left Mr. Mercer room to change side, or to that effect. Some conversation took place but not of so serious a nature, as to make any impression on Mr. Mercers memory, but he is persuaded that he entered into no explanation of the list to authorize Mr. McHenry to say the members were markd as for a Kingly or national Government, and the list being on the Constitution with the words for and against and nothing else, Mr. McHenry cou'd have no authority from that. Mr. Mercer and Mr. McHenry were not in the habit of Confidential communication — nor has Mr. Mercer ever mentioned any political opinion as the opinion of Mr. D. Carroll to any one. In a variety of private conversations it is probable he receiv'd the opinions of almost every Member in Convention, but he has never related more than what came from them in debate. At that moment the Cant expression was high toned Government which superceeded the usual descriptions of Monarchy, Aristocracy, or Democracy and which perswades Mr. Mercer that the word Kingly coud never have been used by him.
But as Mr. Martins information to Mr. Mercer of what passd between him and Mr. McHenry fixes it, that Mr. McHenry told him, that he knew it of his own knowledge and from his acquaintance with the Characters, Mr. Mercer thinks that Mr. McHenry has very improperly introduc'd him into the business.
Extracts from Mr. McHenrys Letter to me [Daniel Carroll] dated the 9th of Jan'y 88
Nothing that Mr. Martin can say can make me uneasy, or give me any Surprize. I will tell you in a few words the ground of his misrepresentation. I observ'd Mr. Mercer one day in Convention taking down the names of the members on a blank side of his report and affixing to most of them the word for or against. I askd him what question occasioned his being so particular, upon which he told me, it was no question, but those marked with a for were in favor of Monarchy. How do you learn that? No matter said he the thing is so. I then ask'd him to let me copy it, and Mr. Martin took a copy from mine, which was also on a blank page of my report. This is the whole history, and you may make what use of it you please.
The following is a copy Mr. Martins letter to me [Daniel Carroll] in consequence of what passd between us on Col. Mercer's calling him to me, at the time we were in conversation —
May 20th. 1788
Agreeable to your request I here present you the Substance of our this days conversation —
Sometime after Mr. McHenrys return to Convention conversing on the System then under discussion, and of the object and views of the Members of the Convention, Mr. McHenry told me that a very considerable Number of them were in favour of a Monarchical Government (under certain limitations and restrictions as I concluded) and shewed me a list of the then attending Members from each State marked with the words for and against, to distinguish such as were for or against such a Government; this list was written on a blank page of his printed report of the Committee of detail, and I copied it on a blank page of mine with the same distinctive marks — more than twenty were noted in the list as being in favour of a Monarchy, among those was yr name.
I observ'd to Mr McHenry that as to many of them I perfectly concurd in opinion, but as to some, I thought he was mistaken — he replied I might depend upon it, he was better informed on the Subject, and better knew their sentiments than I did, and that every one who was there distinguisd in favor of a King was so in reality; Mr McHenry did not mention to me particularly whom he drew the inference or how he had obtained the Knowledge or the belief which he express'd, but I naturally concluded that it proceeded from the Sentiments he had heard them express, — from information which had been given to him by others or from their Conduct in Convention, or from all these Sources combin'd. I have no possible recollection that Col. Mercers name was mentiond to me on that or any other occasion by Mr McHenry as having given him any information on the Subject, on the contrary, I well remember that I was surprizd when I heard Col Mercers name lately mentioned on the occasion, as being totally unacquainted with his sentiments on that Subject, and as being ignorant that he had ever expressed such Sentiments. And I am well convinc'd from the fullest recollection and reflection that Mr. McHenry did not mention to me any person in particular from whom he had receiv'd the information or who had impressd on his mind the opinion he at that time entertaind.
At the time we were before the Assembly to give information Mr. McHenry's report of the Committee with other papers were laying on the Table, at that time the list I have mention'd was upon it; And as Mr. McHenry endeavour'd to impress an Idea that there cou'd be no foundation for my Sentiment, that tho' but few members openly avowed their being for a Monarchical Government, yet there were a much greater number who secretly favord that System, I with difficulty restrained myself from laying my hands upon it. and producing it to the Assembly as a proof that he had himself once entertaind Similar Sentiments, altho' he might since be convincd of his error. —
The foregoing is a just State of what passd between Mr McHenry and myself on the Subject concerning which you expressed a desire that I wou'd give you information, and you have my full permission to make any use of it which you may think proper.
I am sr. yr. Obt Sert.
The following is from a Scrip of paper sent me [Daniel Carroll] by my Brother from Mr McHenry —
I mentioned to Mr Mercer, at the Governors that Mr Danl. Carroll had been made very uneasy by Mr Martins having reported, that when in Convention he had been for a Kingly Government, and related the Substance of what I had written to Mr. Carroll on that Subject. Mr Mercer replied that he had put down no such thing opposite the names, and that he only meant that those which had for annex'd to them were for a national Government. I said I did not know what he meant, but that he told me in Convention when I copied the names from his paper that those mark'd for were for a King. He spoke of Mr Martins having acted improperly on this occasion and some others.
Daniel Carroll to Reverend John Carroll.
June 11th. 1788
Dear Brother,
The inclosd1 is for Mr. McHenry. During a long course of Public Service, I have never before heard of any imputation being cast on my conduct. This is of a nature which woud deservedly deprive me of the confidence of the Public, at least. My character I hold dear, and will maintain it against attempts to injure it. Where the blame is, I will not undertake to determine. I did not conceive it probable, that such a paper as is mentiond in Mr. McHenrys Letter of the 9th of Jany. coud have been circulated among some of the deputies from Maryland without my privity, much less, that Mr McHenry woud furnish Mr. Martin with one with my name to it. Until lately I woud not believe that my name was on the list.
Dear Brother Yrs etca—
[Address:] The Revd. Mr. John Carroll.
James McHenry to Reverend John Carroll.2
Baltimore I have read Mr. Martins and Mr. Mercers information to Mr. D. Carroll. With respect to their statements, I can only subjoin, to what I have already written to Mr. Carroll, that I copied the list in question with Mr. Mercers permission, without adding any thing of my own or altering any thing of his, which may be ascertained by comparing the two together; and that on Mr Merc[e]rs changing his seat to another part of the house, Mr. Martin asked me, what I had been copying, and without waiting for an answer took up my report and read over the list. I told him, I had copied it from a list made out by Mr. Mercer, and that the names having for annexed to them, Mr. Mercer said, were for a king. Mr. Martin asked me to let him take a copy, and I permitted it, and this was all the conversation I held then or at any other time with Mr. Martin on that subject.
This relation is copied in substance from my note book of the transactions of the convention, which I wrote down daily,3 and is besides fresh in my memory so that there can be no mistake upon my part. I did not shew the list to Mr. Carroll or Mr Jenifer or any other person (except Martin who got it by surprise), because I took it only with a view to relate the circumstances attending its origin in case it should ever be brought forward to answer improper purposes; nor have I at any time since mentioned any thing respecting either the list or its object, to any person whatever but Mr. D. Carroll and his brother.
Mr. D. Carroll has my consent to make what use he may think proper of the above.
James McHenry to Reverend John Carroll.
Dr. Sir.
You have been so kind as to put your brothers letter into my hand. I have read it attentively and cannot help thinking that he has looked for an illustration where his own experience might have taught him it could not possibly be found. He doubts where the blame lays. When did Mr. Martin and Mr. Mercer become authorities? He suggests also that I should have made him acquainted with the list. If I had shewn it to him, I must have shewn it to others who were equally affected by it, with some of whom I have been for these thirteen years past in the closest habits of intimacy and friendship. Such a step, he must be aware, would have brought on immediate personal altercations (at a most critical time) with a man prone to anger, and excessively captious. I did what I thought much safer and more decisive. I reserved myself to expose it publicly in case a public use had been made of it. This has never been done tho' the fairest opportunity in the world was offred for doing it. Can any one who witnessed that occasion, who heard me charge Mr. Martin with uttering falsehoods, entertain a belief that his representation to Mr. Carroll is true, or that he would have remained silent and condemned before the general assembly, if he could have given me as an evidence of what he there asserts? As to Mr. Mercer, I wish your brother had mentioned what he has recently done or said that has induced him to think more favorably of his veracity.
I have only to regret in this affair that my anxiety for the public good and your brothers quiet, for whom I have the most sincere friendship, should have occasioned him a moments uneasiness, and am only surprised that he has not treated this as he has the other fictions which have been gravely reported to the world for truths.
I am very respectfully Sir Your obt. and hble st.
[Address:] Revd. John Carroll Esqr.
[Footnotes as included or written by Farrand]
  • 1 Apparently the items printed above.
  • 2 The following documents are rough drafts of two letters in McHenry's handwriting.
  • 3 By reference to McHenry's notes of August 6, it will be seen that the item in question is an insertion.
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