Friday, February 4, 2011

Anna Ella Carroll

Anna Ella Carroll is a heroine of the State of Maryland and one of the most important women of the nineteenth century.

She was the daughter of Gov. Thomas King Carroll (1830) and the former Juliana Stevenson, born at the family plantation home on August 29, 1815.

In the 1850s Carroll became active nationally in the Whig and American (Know-Nothing) political parties. The Know Nothing party in Maryland was the progressive party in the state as it was not proslavery, and was prolabor and pro-Union. Catholic and Episcopalian slaveholders could lead the Irish and German Catholic vote in Baltimore to establish a proslavery state government, which was in good part what the Know Nothings were trying to prevent. Presbyterians like Carroll opposed the growing political strength of the Catholic Church that also ruled Italian provinces, on the grounds of free speech, temperance, Sabbatarianism, and being antislavery and prorepublican.

In 1857 Carroll was the publicist for Gov.Thomas H. Hicks, Maryland's pro-Union governor in his first bid for that office. During the secession crisis of early1861, strong secession forces in the state pressed Governor Hicks to call a secession convention which he refused to do. Carroll flooded the press with articles defending Hicks's pro-Union stance. Ultimately Hicks wrote that Carroll's writings did more than any others to elect a Uniongovernor in November 1861.

After the circulation of her reply (to Sen. John C. Breckinridge) pamphlet in the summer of 1861, Pres. Abraham Lincoln requested that Carroll continue to write on behalf of his administration. Asst. Secty. of War Thomas A. Scott entered into a verbal contract with Carroll for this, under his general authority as a government official. Carroll produced three more pamphlets, outlining the war powers of the president and the federal government. Carroll later wrote one of the few most ably argued pamphlets on the Emancipation Proclamation. Still Lincoln detractors do not understand that the proclamation was a military order. Therefore it could only be enforced by military officers in areas ruled by martial law, that is, the revolted states, not the loyal ones. In October 1861,

Carroll traveled to St. Louis with secret agent Lemuel D. Evansto gather intelligence. As a result of an interview conducted with a Union riverboatpilot, Carroll submitted a plan that advocated a Confederate invasion upon the Tennessee River. Twenty years of Congressional testimony clearly show that the Lincoln administration adopted Carroll's plan and Edwin M. Stanton was appointed secretary of war to implement it. With that said, research also shows that MG Henry W. Halleck and Lincoln were simultaneously and separately planning thesame movement without each others's knowledge, Lincoln's plan based on Carroll's  submission.

As William Safire pointed out long ago, Carroll was the only person to put the Tennessee River plan before the president. After the war, Carroll went to the Congress to try to get reimbursed for $5,000 still owed her for her publications. Four military committees that were convened through 1890 all voted in her favor. Only one did not recommend payment, on spurious grounds. Likely one major reason why no bill ever passed the Congress was that Carroll represented the perfect reason why women should get the vote, and she was supported by the nascent suffrage movement at the time. Some have distorted the facts of Carroll's role in the war effort and her congressional claim. However, the idea that four military committees of the US Congress could be all wrong regarding Anna Ella Carroll's contributions to the war effort is silliness at its height.

Anna Ella Carroll died on February 19, 1894, supported by her sister, Mary, and funds raised by Union veterans and women's organizations. She is buried in the graveyard of the Old Trinity Episcopal Church
in Church Creek, Dorchester County,Maryland.

Biography written by C. Kay Larson
Great Necessities: The Life, Times, and Writings of AnnaElla Carroll, 1815-1894

Phila.: Xlibris Corp., 2004

Click here to purchase

Book #20452 available soft and hard cover at


Audra said...

How cool! My family hails from MD but I hadn't heard of Ms Carroll -- I need to nose around to learn more about her!

QNPoohBear said...

Thanks for the picture! I am actually writing a paper about her and her female political writers of the antebellum South. Anna Ella Carroll was quite outspoken and never let go.

Audra, also look up Mary Chase Barney of Baltimore, who published a periodical in the 1830s and used it to promote her personal views on education and politics. She's going in my paper too.

historywriter said...

Terrific post. Stumbled onto your from Twitter to Yarde's blog. I went to high school in Severna Park and actually worked as a page for the Maryland Senate after graduation from college. I knew the Carroll name, but not this history. Very cool. I'm saving this entry.

I write historical fiction. Most recently TREE SOLDIER.

Shelley said...

She sounds like a nineteenth-century Arianna Huffington!

Baltimore Frank said...

For more than sixty years, American scholars have tried to deny Anna Ella Carroll any role in the Tennessee River campaign, defined as the combined movement of army and naval forces down the Tennessee River Valley in February 1862, commanded by BG Ulysses S. Grant and Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote, that resulted in the capture of Confederate Forts Henry and Donelson on February 6 and 16, respectively. As MG William T. Sherman stated, these were the “first real” victories for the Union in the Civil War and constituted the major line of invasion into the Confederacy by U. S. forces in the West.
Physical proof of the existence of this plan exists, viz., a primary document and the statements of biographer Sarah Ellen Blackwell. Blackwell explained that Carroll’s war memoranda were abstracted from congressional files, but ordered to be printed by succeeding committees from copies made from Carroll’s originals, making those official printings the same as original copies. Carroll’s legislative file is held by the National Archives.
Corroborating evidence of Lincoln’s personal involvement in the planning of the Tennessee River advance confirms that the administration adopted Carroll’s plan; this includes confirmation of Hollister Noble’s reading of secret agent Judge Lemuel D. Evans’s “confidential notes,” per Evans’s congressional testimony.

The major fact of Anna Ella Carroll’s claim for compensation due her from the U. S. government for remaining monies owed her under an oral agreement entered into with Asst. Secty. Thomas A. Scott and for her general wartime services, is that four military committees of the U. S. Congress over a period of twenty years all voted in her favor. These committees continued to meet only because the Congress as a whole failed to pass the compensation bills the committees had prepared and submitted for passage. There was never a dispute in the Congress as to the facts that Carroll or others claimed in her memorials. (N. B.: One of these committees did not dispute the facts of her case, but did not recommend compensation, for spurious reasons. This author has not researched for floor debates on these bills; yet Carroll’s lawyer, William Warden, wrote in private correspondence that he thought the reason the bills were not being passed was because of Carroll’s identification with the suffrage movement that supported her. Some have speculated similarly that the reason members did not vote for Carroll’s bills was that she was the perfect example of why women should get the vote.)

RE: Anna Ella Carroll’s general involvement with the Lincoln administration, that:

Lincoln’s own words and quotes of him verify his regard for Carroll’s political/legal writings;

Atty. Gen. Edward Bates demonstrated unqualified support for Carroll’s knowledge of constitutional law; correspondence with other officials demonstrates Carroll’s activities within the administration;

Carroll’s request for $50,000 is made clear by the text of her letters in her own hand writing.

Below find a point by point refutation of arguments made against Carroll’s case. For a full reading of my Great Necessities chapter on the Tennessee River campaign, go to – right sidebar.

Written by C. K. Larson, Author of Great Necessities - The Life, Times & Writings of Anna Ella Carroll

Baltimore Frank said...

For more information join Friends of Anna Ella Carroll on facebook -
or visit Friends of Anna Ella Carroll (dot) org