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John Carroll

1735-1815. First Roman Catholic bishop in America. Educated in Jesuit schools in France, he joined the order, was ordained to the priesthood (1769), and taught philosophy at Liège and Bruges. When the Society of Jesus was dissolved in 1773, he returned to America and became a leader of the Catholics in the colonies. In 1776 he accompanied Benjamin Franklin and his cousin Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, on an unsuccessful mission to Quebec to gain support for the Revolution. John Carroll was appointed by Pius VI as the first Prefect Apostolic of the United States in 1784, and in 1790 was consecrated as the first American Roman Catholic bishop. He urged Catholic Americans to be patriotic defenders of the new nation, and he defended the rights of Catholics to have religious freedom and justice equal to that enjoyed by Protestants. In 1784 he responded to anti-Catholic attacks by publishing an effective defense of Catholicism, An Address to the Catholics of the United States. He founded Georgetown College for the training of capable native priests and in 1808 became the first archbishop of Baltimore.