On this date in 1789, Father John Carroll was appointed the first bishop of the newly independent United States. He was made the bishop of Baltimore and served in his position until his death in 1815. He came from a family of distinguished Catholics; his cousin Charles was the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
Church troubles, Trusteeism in New York, and Nationalism in Philadelphia, at this time decided the priests of Maryland (March, 1788) to petition Rome for a bishop for the United States. Cardinal Antonelli replied, allowing the priests on the mission to select the city and, for this case only, to name the candidate for presentation to the pope. Twenty-four of the twenty-five other priests in the meeting voted for Father Carroll. Accordingly on 6 November, 1789, Pope Pius VI appointed him bishop. His consecration took place in Mr. Weld’s chapel at Lulworth Castle, England, 15 August, 1790, at the hands of the Rt. Rev. Charles Walmesley, Senior Vicar Apostolic of England. Bishop Carroll returned to Baltimore in triumph, 7 December, when he preached an appropriate and touching sermon in St. Peter’s church.
Carroll of course lived in a time of great anti-Catholicism in this country. Once he said in reply to such an attack:
[Catholics'] blood flowed as freely (in proportion to their numbers) to cement the fabric of independence as that of any of their fellow-citizens. They concurred with perhaps greater unanimity than any other body o fmen in recommending and promoting that government from whose influence America anticipates all the blessings of justice, peace, plenty, good order, and civil and religious liberty.
Let us ask for the intercession of Archbishop Carroll for our country this day.