CARROLL, Charles of Carrollton (1737-1832), Signer, Maryland. Autograph letter signed (“Ch. Carroll of Carrollton”), to Daniel Carroll (1730-1796), Annapolis, 11 November 1800. 2 pages, quarto, blank integral, address panel, seal hole and paper loss along center fold (not affecting text).
CARROLL, THE LAST AND OLDEST SURVIVING SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, GIVES US A GLIMPSE INTO THE EARLY AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION in this letter to one of the Commissioners of the new city of Washington. “I have rented my part of the grist mill & slitting mill for 2 years;” he tells Carroll, “the term of the former will expire the 1st of Sept. & rented for £400 & the slitting mill for £200, the term of which will expire the 28th of next month.” Slitting mills cut metal into small strips, primarily for nails. “Mr. Johnston told me sometime in the summer that the slitting business & the nailery were losing businesses. I am apprehensive the slitting mill will stand still. I have not seen Mr. Johnston for some months, and I am not certain whether he will rent of me the grist mill, but believe he will, as he has not called upon me for any money to lay in interest. I suspect he will not rent the slitting mill, or for a mere trifle if he does. The lands belonging to the Hockley Co. have been surveyed & when the survey is completed it is intended to sell them in parcels convenient to the purchasers.”
Carroll founded the Hockley Mill in 1760, an early example of the Chesapeake slave owners trying (with mixed success) to branch out of plantation slavery to industrial manufacturing pursuits. Here he gives Daniel Carroll some insider counsel about his stake in the mills: “I would not by any means advise you to sell yr interest in the Hockley mills: they will sell badly at this time; not for half their value, but it is my intention not only to sell the lands, but also the works at Hockley as soon as I can meet with a purchaser who will give me for my interest in them what I deem them to be worth, and I should be contented with a very moderate profit, after covering my disbursements & interest on them. Remember me to your family. I hope Mrs. Carroll & your little ones are all well. I am with sincere regard…”