Ronald Hoffman, Princes of Ireland, Planters of Maryland: A Carroll Saga, 1500-1782
List: 17th-18th Century
Subjects: Immigration, Religion, Chesapeake Colonies.

Princes of Ireland, Planters of Maryland is a biography of three generations of Irish Catholic Charles Carrolls, the complex social interplay among these generations, and their long struggle to win (back) the franchise and to consolidate and safeguard their considerable economic fortunes from the ever-present threat of Protestant dispossession.

After a brief prologue involving the Carrolls' adventures in the Olde Country, the book follows the arrival of Charles Carrolton the settler to Maryland's shores, his success in creating enormous amounts of wealth, his service and ultimate betrayal at the hands of the Calverts, and his big-time political failure -- getting all Catholics disenfranchised.

From there, the bulk of the story involves the relationship between Papa (Settler's son) and Charley (Papa's son), and the myriad attempts by the former to make a "sound and strong" heir out of the latter. In this regard, Papa the sober spendthrift is successful in fashioning a son who is educated, genteel, dutiful, and remarkably closed off from the world. [Perhaps there's something to be said here about the rise of individualism - Charley takes the precepts handed down by his father and internalizes them - what was meant to apply mostly to external social/dramaturgical relations ends up dictating and ruining his most private relationships with Molly and the children.] The book follows the correspondence of father and son through the latter's education abroad, his search for a mate, his rise to prominence and political power before the Revolution, and the schism between the two Carrolls' as they respond to the social chaos unleashed by the events of 1776.

All in all, I liked it, even if much of the narrative can be condensed to "the sins of the father are visited upon the son" and "the apple does not fall far from the tree."

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