Anna Ella Carroll

Tour Dorchester


A biographical short based on new
research from a modern perspective.

Anna Ella Carroll (1815-1894) was an intriguing and atypical nineteenth century woman who was decades ahead of her time. Ultimately she emerged as a major figure at the national level in the male dominated realms of Law, Politics, and War, reaching the apex of her career during the administration of President Abraham Lincoln.

The following informative discussion Topics (implemented as Hot Links), based upon an exhaustive unbiased twenty first century examination of the facts, can be selected in sequence or as desired to LEARN ABOUT Anna Ella Carroll. You should be able to return to this page as needed when you have completed a topic.  We suggest you read them in sequence for the best understanding of Anna and her work, and we THANK YOU for your interest in this important woman.


Return to Home Return to Top



Anna's Early Life

Anna was born on August 29, 1815, to Thomas King Carroll and the former Juliana Stevenson in their "Kingston Hall" Plantation home in Somerset County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. In the immediate aftermath of the War of 1812 and the devastating European Napoleonic Wars, American overseas trade had declined resulting in lower demand for Eastern Shore tobacco and other crops. Times were therefore financially lean for the Carrolls and their numerous enslaved families.

Even though Thomas Carroll had other pressing concerns, he recognized his eldest daughter's inherent intellect. Adhering to the King family Anglo-Scots-Irish heritage, he educated Anna in the "Scottish school" tradition prevalent at the time with emphases on Religion, Moral Philosophy, Law, and Political History. By age eleven Anna was also ingesting the innovative philosophy of the German thinker Immanuel Kant[1] and schooled in Greek and Latin Classics, as well. Anna's mother served as a role model, as her knowledge of British history was of local renown. A political thinker by her teens, and as a constitutional theorist and devout Presbyterian, Anna strongly supported the principles of separation of power within our three branches of government and strict separation of church and state.

Clearly then, Anna received a very unusual education for a young woman of her time, largely due to the fact that her erudite parents were her strongest influences. Their original home, "Kingston Hall", still stands on its isolated Eastern Shore location. So outsiders who might have disapproved of her instruction would have been few.

In 1830 Thomas King Carroll was elected governor of Maryland. Letters indicate that his tenure in office piqued Anna's political curiosity even more. Tradition has it that the family sailed to Maryland's capital city, Annapolis, to visit him. In 1850, with help from Anna, former Governor Carroll was appointed the Naval Officer for the District of Baltimore by Whig Pres. Zachary Taylor and Pres. Millard Fillmore signed his commission, following Taylor's untimely death.

Return to Home Return to Top

Anna's National Political Debut

During the 1850s, the issues of rapid urbanization, political corruption, foreign immigration, anti-Catholicism, slavery, temperance, and moral reform were roiling the national political parties. Further, the political impact of the Compromise of 1850 began to threaten the very future of the United States as a viable national entity. Under it, the admission of California as a free state upset the political balance between North and South in the Congress. The demise of the Whig party and the passage of the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act that opened the Western territories to slavery brought the antislavery Republican party into being in 1854. The Democratic party leadership in Congress increasingly was dominated by Southerners who pushed for acquisition of more slave territory. The North-South conflict began violently bleeding Kansas in 1856.

At the start of the decade in 1850, Anna Ella Carroll was thirty-five years old, extremely well-educated, trained in the law by her father, and already familiar with the political world. As the eldest of eight children, growing into adulthood, Anna took a leadership role in her family. She was aiding her father politically in the 1840s and his 1850 appointment within the Fillmore administration ushered father and daughter onto the national political stage (Anna's mother had died in 1849). During the ensuing ten years, Anna used his contacts to begin a professional writing career. Her ably written commissioned works, newspaper articles, and campaign documents, pamphlets, and books eventually earned her a nationwide reputation among editors and politicians. She earned substantial fees and royalties, writing under her full name, A. E. Carroll, or anonymously under noms de plume, for example, Hancock.

Anna served as a publicist for numerous influential political candidates in the Baltimore/Washington area. Politically she emphasized "liberty and resistance to oppressive government, adherence to the law, promotion of education and social and economic development by an activist government, and a general 'moral reforming' spirit" (Ref. 1, C. Kay Larson, page 67).

During these and succeeding years, Anna:

  • Worked for and lobbied Politicians on behalf of her father's career from her teens until well after the Civil War,
  • Supported Presbyterian Rev. Robert J. Breckinridge and his efforts to expand the Presbyterian Church in Baltimore City during the 1840s,
  • Campaigned for a Transcontinental Railroad,
  • Lobbied successfully for required Safety Standards for U.S. Naval and Commercial Ship Construction in the 1850s after the sinking with loss of life of the Naval ship "Albany". These reforms were implemented in the aftermath of U.S. Navy sailors having been lost at sea on poorly constructed ships,
  • Supported Whig Pres. Zachary Taylor in 1848 and Pres. Millard Fillmore in both 1852 and 1856. In aid of Fillmore and the American (Know Nothing) Party, Anna published two major campaign books, "The Great American Battle" and "The Star of the West", as well as numerous pamphlets and articles,
  • Supported pro-Union Maryland Gov. Thomas H. Hicks in his first gubernatorial bid in the late 1850s and during the 1861 secession crisis. Anna also supported many other politicians, including the great Henry Clay, Thomas Corwin, Edward Everett, Reverdy Johnson, and Alexander H. H. Stuart, and 
  • Campaigned in 1859-60 for former Congressman John Minor Botts as an "Opposition" Unionist candidate for President, but interestingly not the Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln, although she wrote for the Republican Party and was an ally of New York State boss Thurlow Weed, Senator William H. Seward's alter ego.

Thus while other young Victorian-era women were socially confined to the domestic concerns of marriage and family, Anna turned down offers of wedlock and became a self- and family-provider. She focused on issues important to her sense of duty, patriotism, piety, fairness, and representative government. This range of interests gave her a great variety of topics to write and lobby about prior to the Civil War torn 1860s. Immigration, Protestantism versus Catholicism, Political Corruption, the misuse of Congressional Power, Slavery, and the possibility of Disunion were topics Anna delved into with earnestness and lucidness few men or women could or would match!

Return to Home Return to Top

Anna's Early Civil War Involvement

In 1860, following his November election as the sixteenth president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln faced the daunting task of preserving the Union. South Carolina had voted secession on December 20, 1860, and six other states soon followed.

By early February 1861, the Confederate government had formed in Montgomery Alabama, with Jefferson Davis elected as its president. At the time, the secession spirit was rife in both Virginia and Maryland. If both states went out of the Union, the Lincoln administration would be forced to abandon the seat of the U.S. government, an event that would greatly disrupt attempts to bring the rebellious states to heel and might bring on foreign recognition of the Confederacy. But Anna Ella Carroll did not intend that the national ship would go down on her watch. Her devout belief was that this nation "was created to be the daylight to break the night of ages". Thus she decamped from Maryland and moved into a boarding house in Washington, DC to be a part of the solution to the national crisis.

Anna had immediately understood the perceptual, political, and military importance of keeping her home state of Maryland in the Union, and thus she:

  • Began a major effort to convince her friend and confidante Maryland Gov. Thomas Hicks that the state Legislature should NOT be allowed to vote on the matter of secession,
  • Lobbied the Governor and key state legislators on issues pertaining to the lawful preservation of the Union,
  • Penned numerous press articles supporting Governor Hicks' pro-Union stance, and
  • Provided intelligence on Southern intentions to Hicks and to her relative Lincoln's General-in-Chief Winfield Scott.

Prior to Lincoln's inauguration on March 4, 1861, Hicks actively delayed action by the Maryland state legislature. He kept members from meeting to avoid a vote on the secession question, and although a Legislative Session was called at the end of April, no action was taken by the body.

Following the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, that commenced military hostilities, Lincoln called for the activation of 75,000 state militia. This act of perceived "coercion" on the part of the Federal Government brought about the Virginia secession on April 17. Two days later on April 19, a pro-Confederate Baltimore mob attacked Soldiers of the 6th Massachusetts militia regiment en route to Washington. Maryland insurrectionists had also cut rail and telegraph lines to the North leaving Washington completely isolated by land. Thus on April 26, Lincoln ordered the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus[2] and on May 1, 1861, imposed Martial Law[3] in the state. Having invoked presidential war powers under the 1795 Act of Insurrection, Lincoln thus empowered military officers to arrest armed belligerents acting to prevent access to the capital by Federal forces. These belligerents were deemed U.S. enemy combatants, and thus subject to the laws of war.

Lincoln's use of presidential war powers was critical to maintaining the seat of the national government in the District of Columbia, but his acts were controversial among many Maryland citizens. Hence Lincoln's Attorney General, Edward Bates issued the official Justice Department opinion on the issue. Bates, who knew Anna well, then asked her to write a pamphlet explaining the President's constitutional power to make arrests and suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus. This brief, but powerful document was written by Anna during the summer of 1861 and was approved by the Attorney General, the President, and his cabinet. It was widely distributed within Maryland where Anna was well known and her views were highly respected. (Ref. 1, C. Kay Larson page 300)

Return to Home Return to Top

The Reply to Breckinridge

On July 16, 1861, Kentucky Sen. John C. Breckinridge, a long time Carroll family friend and former Vice President under President James Buchanan, rose on the floor of the U.S. Senate and condemned the Lincoln Administration's actions to suppress the ever growing rebellion. Anna was appalled! Since this speech was given just five days before the Union defeat at Bull Run in nearby Virginia on July 21, Anna was now convinced she needed to reveal her private knowledge about long-held Southern plans for secession, as well as a coup d'état of Washington, DC. Anna therefore crafted her pamphlet "Reply to Breckinridge". Here she revealed the extent of the conspiracy and condemned Breckinridge for his alleged role (never examined in a court of law). Anna again justified Lincoln's use of his powers as Commander in Chief to defend the existence of the national government.

Anna sent a copy of her "Reply" to Samuel T. Williams, editor of the Congressional Globe. He replied saying, "If spoken in the Senate, your article would have been regarded by the country as a complete and masterly refutation of Mr. B's hersies (sic)." (Ref. 1, C. Kay Larson page 298) Governor Hicks requested that hundreds of copies of "Reply" as well as other of her pro-Union writings be distributed to political leaders throughout the state of Maryland. Attorney General Bates delivered a copy to President Lincoln who responded in complimentary terms. Ultimately ten thousand copies of the Breckinridge "Reply" were circulated. (Ref. 1, C. Kay Larson, pages 297-299)

The discredited John C. Breckinridge was later formally expelled from the U.S. Senate on December 4, 1861, by a vote of 36 to 0 for his Treasonous Acts against the Union. (Reference Official U.S. Senate Web page, Historical Office)

Return to Home Return to Top

The War Powers Document

After the busy summer of 1861, Anna embarked upon an even busier early fall. As a result of writing her Breckinridge "Reply" pamphlet, Anna saw the need to research a major position paper on the federal government's War Powers. She also decided to travel to St. Louis, Missouri to visit her father's relatives.

Anna informed Asst. Secty. of War Thomas A. Scott of her research plans and pending trip. "He urged [her] to go, asking [her] to write him fully of every point and fact investigated". (Ref. 1, C. Kay Larson page 321) C. Kay Larson's recent research on this trip reveals, however, that Anna's true purpose was to aid Judge Lemuel D. Evans, Department of State secret agent for Texas and Mexico. Evans had consulted with commanding Gen. John C. Fremont in August and returned to Washington, planning to reenter Texas undercover. He would wait in St. Louis until hostilities in the Southwest calmed. Larson believes Carroll's plan was to spy on Edward William Johnston, the brother of Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston, since Edward was the head librarian at the Mercantile Library where she did her primary research while in St. Louis. According to Evans's confidential notes, Evans and Carroll left Washington by train on October 11, 1861. Thus began probably the most historically well-documented portion of Anna Ella Carroll's life that largely concerns her submission of her strategic Tennessee River Plan to the Lincoln administration.

But first, the writing of the War Powers document. While living in a hotel in St. Louis, Anna utilized the well stocked Mercantile Library to research the historical, legal, and constitutional basis of "The War Powers of the General Government," most specifically those of the President, acting as commander-in-chief. She wrote the entire draft of this pamphlet while in St. Louis. Upon her return to Washington, DC she submitted a copy for approval to Asst. Secretary Scott. He signed off on a print run of 6,000 copies. This document published by Henry Polkinhorn, is twenty-four pages, using a very small font size (slightly larger than this) and is approximately 13,800 words in length! Her full name "Anna Ella Carroll, of Maryland" was printed on the Title Page as the author. Anna covered the following topics in this extensive work:

  • Who Made the War. 
  • The Status of the Citizens of the Seceded States Defined. 
  • Congress has no Power to Confiscate Slaves or other Private Property. 
  • The Opinions of John Quincy Adams and Charles Sumner Refuted. 
  • The Right to Capture All Property used for Insurrectionary Purposes. 
  • The Right to Suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus and Arrest the Enemy
  • The Duty of Allegiance and Protection. 

As can be seen from this list of covered topics, Anna's extensive background in History, Constitutional Law, and Government allowed her to delve deeply into a variety of judicial/military topics. To this day these powers are still extensively debated between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches of our government! They are germane to contemporary discussions regarding the arrest, detention, and trials of alleged terrorists, and Iraq and Afghanistan combatants.

Anna's "Reply to Breckinridge" and "War Powers" pamphlets help define the uses and limits of the military powers of the Federal Government, especially those of the President of the United States to invoke the military powers and utilize it to counter organized, armed insurrectionary forces within the United States.

Return to Home Return to Top


The Tennessee River Plan to Invade the Confederacy

While in the Western Department in St. Louis, Anna also investigated the military situation in the upper Mississippi River Valley, as was earlier "suggested" to her by Asst. Secretary Scott. She gathered detailed information on-site via discussions with Union military officers. Anna discussed the military use of the Mississippi River and the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers with an experienced professional Riverboat Captain Charles M. Scott. Scott was familiar with these waters, as he had worked and traveled on them during most of his life. Given the technical details amassed in her written plan, this author assumes Carroll also examined local maps and raw data on towns, railroads, and other Southern military assets. From this information, Anna's Tennessee River Plan to invade the Confederacy constituted a broader, more viable, and better strategic vision than the existing military plan to descend the Mississippi River. For example Anna noted that on the Mississippi River disabled Union vessels would float south with the current into hostile territory and thus be taken by the enemy. In contrast, the Tennessee River flowed north into the Ohio River. Thus, disabled vessels would drift back into U.S. control.

Anna's new "Tennessee Plan" advocated use of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers to invade central Tennessee via a single line of invasion, rather than a broad front strategy advocated by Brig Gen Don Carlos Buell, and to capture key strategic points/facilities, including the vital Memphis-Charleston Railroad line. She further discussed the possibilities of Union forces subsequently using these captured bases for expeditions west, south, and east to begin the geographic attrition of the Confederacy.

This strategic vision became her major contribution to the overall Union war plan, implemented by the Lincoln administration. Union generals Henry W. Halleck and Ulysses S. Grant had narrower views, advocating mainly use of the Tennessee River as a line of invasion. Carroll's contribution, however, is still ignored and denied by many Civil War Historians who have not researched (or refuse to) Anna's critical role in the Tennessee River engagements that resulted in the capture of Confederate Forts Henry and Donelson on the Kentucky-Tennessee border in February 1862. (Ref.1 C. Kay Larson Chapter IV on the Tennessee River campaign). 

Upon returning to Washington, D.C., Anna finalized her Tennessee River Plan, dated November 30, 1861, adding numerous maps and data tables. She submitted the complete plan to Asst. Sec. of War Thomas A. Scott. Scott presented Carroll's Tennessee Plan to President Lincoln. In turn he discussed it with Sen. Benjamin F. Wade, chairman of the Joint House/Senate Committee on the Conduct of the War who quickly realized its strategic significance to the Western Department. The Tennessee Plan was adopted by the Lincoln administration and Asst. Secretary Scott was sent West to mobilize reinforcements for General Halleck to implement it. 

Throughout the remainder of the late fall and early winter of 1861/1862 President Lincoln: 

  • Replaced Secretary of War, Simon Cameron with Edwin M. Stanton, who was impressed immediately with Carroll's Tennessee Plan. How important this change in Cabinet officers and the Tennessee Plan was to the President is indicated by Stanton's appointment. That is, Stanton was an unlikely choice, and appointed largely through the influence of Senator Wade, a fellow Ohioan. Although Stanton was then holding the position of legal counsel to the War Department, he had several black political marks on his record. He had been a member of Democrat President James Buchanan's cabinet, he was known to have made unfavorable remarks about the new Republican administration, and while he was a legal team colleague with Lincoln during the 1855 McCormick v Manny Reaper Patent Case Stanton had openly shunned his colleague the future president. Meanwhile Lincoln, 
  • Received daily reports from Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote, co-commander with Grant of combined army-navy forces, on the progress of the construction of the gunboat fleet to be used on the Western Rivers. This demonstrates that Lincoln was overseeing the campaign as a whole, 
  • Telegraphed Major Gen Henry W. Halleck, ordering him to conduct a reconnaissance of the Tennessee River in mid-January 1862, per congressional testimony submitted by secret agent Lemuel Evans. (See "The Case of Anna Ella Carroll" page 6 of 32 by C. Kay Larson posted on this "Friends of Anna Ella Carroll" Web Site), and 
  • Oversaw the subsequent Union advances from Forts Henry and Donelson and the Mississippi River, farther south and east, making changes in Department commanders and field officers, with Stanton and other naval commanders coordinating transport and logistics, etc. 

The February 1862 successes in the Western Department were only the beginning of the long road to Victory over the Confederacy. The Tennessee River Plan as originally envisioned by Anna and as implemented by Lincoln and the Union Military Commanders ultimately confirmed Lincoln's Constitutional War Powers as Commander in Chief! This is perhaps the Greatest unforeseen, and least recognized, achievement of Anna's Tennessee Plan. 

Return to Home Return to Top

The Emancipation Proclamation

Pres. Abraham Lincoln declared in his March 4, 1861, Inaugural Speech that his paramount presidential responsibility was to "preserve, protect, and defend" the Union. With the approval of and provisions passed by Congress, Lincoln, as Commander in Chief, was responsible for managing the rapid growth of his army and navy. He repetitively sought Army Generals who would successfully "fight on" to victory. Yet even though the war was nearly all consuming, the President was mentally struggling with the immense issue of slavery, which most Northerners understood was the cause of the war.

England had outlawed the slave trade in 1807 and subsequently in 1833 outlawed slavery in England and most of its empire. Since the 1840s, antislavery groups had lobbied to take the U.S. government out of the slavery business by ending the sale of slaves in the District of Columbia and evading the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law by passage of Northern "personal liberty laws." Northern abolitionists had always demanded that all U.S. slaves be freed. Once the war began, a number of Republican Congressmen demanded that Congress pass laws to confiscate and/or "free" slaves in the rebellious Confederate States.

In many ways however, the U.S. Constitution protected slavery. After much debate in 1787, the founders had preserved the slave trade until 1808 in Article I Section 9[4]. They also provided for the handling of fugitive slaves in Article IV Section 2[5]. Additionally in the "Bill of Rights", Amendment V[6] stated that no person can be deprived of "private property" without due process of law. The 1857 Dred Scott Supreme Court decision defined slaves as "property," and by this declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional. Thus, this decision opened the door for the nationalization of slavery under the Fifth Amendment, as Lincoln publicly debated in 1858. In other words, under Chief Justice Roger Taney’s terms, citizens in Kansas - Nebraska territory were free to deal with slavery in any way they wished regardless of Congressional Acts/Laws … as long as they did not outlaw slavery!

In December 1861 Anna had presented her "War Powers of the General Government" pamphlet to Lincoln. In it she discussed the legal foundation for the President, acting as commander-in-chief, to seize private property being used to support an organized armed insurrection. These acts could be ordered by the President under the doctrine of military necessity to suppress the rebellion. That is, when an owner's "slave property" was used to assist the Confederate effort militarily, Anna argued that slaves could indeed be temporarily "freed".

". . . during the continuance of the war, and so long as the rebels maintain their attitude of open hostility to the Government, [it] may, . . . prevent them from using even their private property in any manner to aid in the movement of the insurrectionary forces. But this right of prevention in the Government is one strictly appertaining to the military power. It is one of the rights incidental to martial law. Hence it is to be exercised by the President . . . and not at all by Congress. It is also perfectly clear that this right of the President to prevent the rebels from employing their property in aid of the rebellion, is but temporary, and, since it is a power springing out of war, it must necessarily expire with the war." (Anna Ella Carroll "War Powers of the General Government" as re-printed in Ref. 1 by C. Kay Larson page 589)

In May 1862, Carroll reiterated these arguments in her fourth major pamphlet, "The Relation of the National Government to the Revolted Citizens Defined," written to counter arguments made by U.S. Sen. Charles Sumner in the Senate Chamber that by making war on the North, the Confederate States and all their citizens should lose their sovereignty and property rights, respectively.

During this same time, Anna also lobbied the President to establish a freedmen's colony in Belize, a British territory in Central America. Both Carroll and Lincoln supported colonization, as a way to sell emancipation in the Border States, and to mollify residents' fears of being overwhelmed by the freedmen population.

That spring and summer of 1862, Lincoln was being subjected to intense political and personal pressure on emancipation. After Gen.-in-Chief George B. McClellan's Peninsula Campaign failed in July, Horace Greeley, the influential editor of the New York Herald Tribune newspaper, suggested on August 19, 1862, that Lincoln make abolition a war objective. Lincoln responded by writing, in part, "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it." He finished: "and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men, everywhere, could be free". This statement by the President was made after Lincoln signed April legislation that freed all slaves, with financial compensation to their "owners", in the District of Columbia which was uniquely controlled by the Federal Government! (Ref. 1, C. Kay Larson page 412)

Although Anna was one of the few to publicly make the legal case for the President concerning military confiscation and freeing of slaves, personally she opposed the Emancipation Proclamation. She believed there were many Southern Unionists like herself whose support needed to be maintained. In July 1862 she wrote voicing her opposition to the Second Confiscation Act and an emancipation proclamation:

"For with the dread of emancipation, and the apprehension of insurrections from arming the slaves, it will require a million of men, Mr. President, added to the numbers we have now in the field, instead of the 300,000 for which you have called equal to the military strength of the United South." (Ref. 1, C. Kay Larson, page 436)

According to Carroll an emancipation proclamation would change the rationale of the war from maintenance of the Constitution to "subjugation of the Southern States and the destruction of their social system." (Ref. 1, C. Kay Larson, pp. 327-338)

In the end, Lincoln determined that emancipating slaves in "rebellious" states was a necessary military and humanitarian act. He wrote his first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation in the summer of 1862. Following intense Cabinet discussions, he announced the terms of the Preliminary Proclamation soon after the battle of Antietam , in September 1862, which had been deemed a Union success. The President signed the final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, which made slaves in Confederate states and parts thereof, "forever free." What is still little understood today is that the Emancipation Proclamation was a military order, issued by the President that could only be implemented by the U.S. military. As such it could only be enforced in areas governed by martial law, that is, in states in rebellion, not loyal ones.

Ultimately the Thirteenth Amendment[7] to the U.S. Constitution, passed by Congress in December 1865, forbade slavery or involuntary servitude in the United States and its territories. Lincoln, of course, had been assassinated on April 14, 1865 and consequently was not alive to witness this historic humanitarian event. 

Return to Home Return to Top

Anna's Moral/Humanitarian Efforts

Anna had long been involved in Moral Reform Efforts, partly due to her Presbyterian faith. In 1840s Baltimore, she had followed the ministrations of Presbyterian Rev. Robert J. Breckinridge. The church had always had a strong moral reform component in its ministerial teachings that also informed the British Whig and American Whig and Republican party platforms.

Like other puritan sects, a bedrock of Presbyterian teaching was that each believer would be free to "search the word," that is, read the Bible to learn God's truth. Thus Presbyterians' missionary activities centered on the spread of Bible literacy. This, of course, also led to strong support for public education.

Anna's Scots-Irish heritage and her father's influence led her to initially support the Whig Party and during the mid-1850s the American (Know-Nothing) Party. Like others, Anna saw the American party as a "moral reform" movement. Activists vowed to clean up urban machine corruption and prostitution, enforce a reverence for Sundays, spread temperance, protect native working men's jobs, and support free speech and conscience (Bible reading/teaching), and the antislavery movement. Anna had freed her own slaves prior to the Civil War.

By 1856, the Know Nothings had become the progressive party in Maryland in opposition to the proslavery Democrats. Striking ironwork laborers had flooded into the party. Thus the Know Nothings were pro-labor, pro-Union but not pro-slavery. They fought against attempts to ally the Irish and German Catholic vote with Catholic and Episcopal slaveholders in the legislature to form a proslavery state government. In 1857, Carroll was the main publicist for Thomas H. Hicks, the American Party gubernatorial candidate, who credited his electoral victory to her writings.

During the Civil War, Carroll's humanitarian concerns extended to war victims. She provided personal and financial support to Union prisoners of war, the war wounded, and war widows. She actively lobbied a number of her key Washington DC contacts to help gain employment in the ever growing ranks of government workers for women whose relatives had been killed. Especially the Treasury Department's duties had expanded during the conflict and officials were open to hiring women as copyists, currency counters, and more.

Return to Home Return to Top


The Post War Years and Reconstruction

Following Lincoln's Assassination in April 1865, the new and inexperienced Vice-President Andrew Johnson, Tennessee's war governor, assumed the office of the Presidency. His prickly and self-possessed personality and lack of leadership skills would soon become evident. Anna and many others quickly realized that Johnson's main goal was to gain reelection. Thus he sought the support of former high-ranking Confederate officials and officers who returned to both the Congress and to elected state positions. Johnson had previously granted pardons for members of this excluded class.

Additionally Johnson's views were extraordinarily racist. He believed that former slaves should not have the vote, nor get an education, nor enjoy civil rights. His measures prompted Anna to take pen in hand to denounce the President. She wrote that Johnson had: 

  • "Reinstated the rebel state governments for the purpose of securing his own (future) election to the Presidency", and he has 
  • Allowed "old rebel leaders who made the war to be now in power in every State, (and who are) more insolent and more imperious than before", and he has 
  • "Given to their (rebel) cherished dogma of primary or paramount State allegiance an appalling efficacy", and therefore he has 
  • Created a policy of "organized secession", thus resulting in the 
  • "Augmentation of their political power and the triumph of their political philosophy (that) would more than compensate for all their losses by war." (Ref. 1, C. Kay Larson pages 447 and 448) 

Irate Republican Congressmen and many others sought to remove Johnson from office and thus an impeachment was launched! Anna favored immediately removing Johnson from office. Her incisive legal training informed her that he was "constitutionally unable to discharge his powers and duties as President" (see Article II, Section1. paragraph 6 of the Constitution) because of his upcoming impeachment trial! She opined that "impeachment (is) such a case of inability as the Constitution contemplates", and thus Johnson should be removed from office until any impeachment trial itself was concluded. (Ref. 1, C. Kay Larson pages 448, and 449.)

Despite Anna's and others' fears, Pres. Andrew Johnson was Not removed from office. Although Johnson was impeached by the House, Senate conviction failed by one vote. Yet Anna continued to condemn his and other Southerners' Reconstruction measures that increased racial segregation and fomented violence against freedmen and white Republicans across the region.

In her later years, as an inveterate Southern Unionist, Anna hoped the physical destruction in the South might provide it a new democratic birth. If properly fostered, the region might Not then be ruled by an arrogant, industrial oligarchy that seemed to be politically taking over the North! 

Return to Home Return to Top

Seeking Fair Compensation

As a professional writer, Anna Ella Carroll expected to be paid fairly for her work. In the fall of 1861, she had entered into a verbal contract with Asst. Secretary of War Thomas A. Scott to write for the administration, at the request of the president. Ultimately she produced four major pamphlets and many articles, and worked on special projects for the President. Because of her loyalty and strong sense of duty, during late 1861 and early 1862, she wrote only under Scott's shaky verbal agreement. Partly due to the internal administrative chaos of wartime demands, this situation turned out to be very frustrating and eventually debilitating for her. In the postwar years, she thus sought reimbursement for her pamphlets and business expenses incurred on behalf of the Lincoln Administration.

During the Civil War, Carroll received very little pay and official recognition, as it was necessary that Lincoln keep her work secret. In the postwar years, she suffered even greater gender discrimination and from political and military indifference, as her supporters died off.

As early as June 1862, Carroll sought payment for her "Reply to Breckinridge," "War Powers of the General Government," and "Relation of the National Government to the Revolted Citizens Defined" pamphlets. For these three, she itemized monies due that totaled $5,000, for writing, printing, and distribution of 16,000 copies. (Per the web site $5,000 in 1862 was equivalent to $112,000 in 2010.) Carroll acknowledged a one-time cash payment of $1,250 from Secretary Scott. Although Carroll also accepted $750 from the War Department for service as a secret agent, this did not remunerate her for her writing costs.

After the war at the urging of Sen. Benjamin F. Wade, former chairman of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, Carroll began to submit claims directly to the Congress for monies due for her general wartime services. Thus the historical record of her extraordinary contributions is exceedingly well documented, to wit:

  • March 1870: submitted a Memorial to U.S. Senator Jacob Howard's Committee on Military Affairs. Received only delaying responses saying "now is not a good time", 
  • February 1871: the Howard Committee approved her Memorial claim, but the Congress failed to pass an expense bill; Howard quietly told Carroll that former military officers did not want her to receive recognition. Also documentary evidence was "inadvertently lost" from the files. 
  • January 1872: Howard's bill was resubmitted with numerous letters of support from key individuals. Again no action, including a noncommittal reply from former General and then President Ulysses S. Grant, 
  • June 1872: resubmitted claim again, no action, 
  • 1873: resubmitted with added statements from historians and prominent citizens, no action, 
  • July 1876: Anna and State Department secret agent Judge Lemuel Evans gave sworn in-person testimony, regarding the Tennessee River Plan to a congressional committee, no action, 
  • 1877, 1878, 1879, 1880: additional submittals, no action, 
  • 1881: Rep. E. S. Bragg's military committee submitted a bill that would have awarded Carroll a $50.00 per month pension, but Congress failed to pass it. (Per web site $50.00 per month in 1881 is equivalent to $1,030 per month in 2010), 
  • Spring 1882: Carroll's claim in military committee, no action partly due to Carroll's increasing vocal support among suffragists, 
  • Late 1889-97: Several more bills submitted to Congress which met with even greater resistance, evidently because the women's suffrage movement which had launched a nation-wide campaign in support of Carroll, was in full swing. (Ref. 1, C. Kay Larson pages 477 to 499) 

During these many years Anna's physical health had deteriorated. She became dependent upon family and both the women's suffrage and veterans' organizations for financial support. Meanwhile Ulysses S. Grant, the Union General who co-commanded the Tennessee River campaign, defeated Andrew Johnson in the 1868 presidential election and Grant was reelected in 1872. Grant earned the Presidency … Anna earned little more than heartache.

Although most historians have not supported Anna’s claim to monies owed for her writings and recognition due for the submission and implementation of her strategic military plan, the facts are that every one of the four military committees who decided on her claim voted in her favor. Only the Cockrell committee report failed to recommend compensation on spurious grounds. Carroll’s lawyer, William T. Warden, believed the Men in Congress failed to act because Anna Ella Carroll’s case came to be associated with women’s suffrage, and that she represented the exact reason why women should get the vote. By deduction, therefore, those historians who fail to support Carroll seem not to support women’s suffrage. If there are other reasons, none have come up with accurate or rational ones. What is also clear is that historians who have ignored, or defamed, and/or mocked Carroll’s claims seem not to support women as legitimate sources of political, legal, and military authority.

Return to Home Return to Top



President John Adams' wife Abigail wrote in a 1780 letter to her son future President John Quincy Adams:

"Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the Heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into Life, and form the Character of the Hero and Statesman." (Reference 1, C. Kay Larson page 501)

Thus was Anna Ella Carroll. Anna Ella Carroll died of organ failure in Washington DC on February 19, 1894, and is buried in a Carroll Family plot on the grounds of the Old Trinity Church on Church Road, (P.O. Box 157, Church Creek, Maryland 21622) on the Eastern Shore of Maryland not far from Cambridge. National Park Standard Interpretive Signs are posted at this location, as well as other memorials to Anna. Readers are encouraged to visit this site and ponder its rural beauty and historic significance.

References and Research Sources for Anna Ella Carroll

1.) A 2004 book titled "Great Necessities: The Life, Times, and Writings of Anna Ella Carroll, 1815–1894", regarding the significant contributions of Anna based upon twelve years of extensive research was published by independent scholar C. Kay Larson. This nearly 700 page work provides a wealth of historical facts, contexts, and quotes from primary sources involving Anna Ella Carroll from her birth until her death. Also included in this valuable book are seemingly countless references, listed in detailed endnotes, as well as complete copies of many of Anna's influential Pamphlets and Writings (130 pages), including the "War Powers" pamphlet. This must have book is available from Xlibris Corporation on the web at or telephone 888 795-4274, for about $30.00 (paper).

2.) A reasonably well researched contemporary nineteenth century biography of Anna's life and times, written by Sara Ellen Blackwell, titled "A military Genius, Life of Anna Ella Carroll, Of Maryland, (The Great Unrecognized Member of Lincoln's Cabinet.)" was published in 1891 and contains numerous copies of primary documents. Blackwell's book is a good starting point to better understand Anna's life and in particular her post Civil War Congressional hardships. This influential book is available on for about $10.00.

3.) A mid twentieth century novel with a fictional but Fact Based account of Anna's life and times was written by Hollywood screenwriter Hollister Noble in the late 1940s. Noble's book "Woman with a Sword" became a best seller and was selected by numerous book clubs as their book of the month. Mr. Noble also did extensive research prior to writing his book and documented this research in a very educational endnote to his book. Noble also had found Lemuel D. Evans's secret agent notebook that has now gone missing from the Seward home library! This historic novel is available on for a variety of prices.

4.) A full length feature film, "Lost River", had its World Premiere on the Eastern Shore of Maryland on November 20, 2010, and has been subsequently shown at other venues. This excellent period feature film was produced by Bruce Bridegroom, Esq. and stars Tami Sutton as Anna and the venerable Fritz Klein as President Abraham Lincoln. It covers Anna's life from her teen years through Lincoln's assassination and afterward. Contact Mr. Frank A. Bittner at 410 943-8833 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, regarding the availability of this feature length film for your use.

Return to Home Return to Top

Hot Links

[1] Immanuel Kant: Kant (1724 – 1804) was a German Philosopher who was born in Konigsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia) and was well educated in philosophy, mathematics, and physics. He lectured at the University of Konigsberg where he taught and wrote predominately regarding philosophy. He primarily believed that we could know only what we experience, and he argued for an absolute morality based upon rational free will (as opposed to irrational free will). Thus there are limits to our human understanding of everything including our concept of God, but education and life experience are crucial to our concept of ourselves and our God. ^

[2] Writ of Habeas Corpus: Latin for "you have the body". Prisoners can seek release from prison by filing a petition to an applicable court to provide them a Writ of habeas corpus. This Writ is then used to require the prison or detaining authority to bring the prisoner AND the "evidence" to the court to determine whether the prisoner is indeed "legally" held by the authority, or whether the prisoner should be released especially if the "evidence" is illegal or erroneous. ^

[3] Martial Law: Military Rule imposed by military authorities within designated regions of a country on an emergency basis. Used generally only on a temporary basis when civilian authorities (police, etc.) fail to function effectively. Military forces are then deployed to maintain order. Civilians defying martial lawmen or martial law orders generally may not seek a Writ of Habeas Corpus to obtain their freedom, and may be subjected to a military tribunal (a court martial) to determine their punishment. ^

[4] U.S. Constitution: Article I Section 9: "The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, …" ^

[5] U.S. Constitution: Article IV Section 2: "No person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due." ^

[6] U.S. Constitution: Amendment V: "… nor shall any person … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;" ^

[7] U.S. Constitution: Amendment XIII Section 1: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." ^

Return to Home Return to Top

Return to Home Return to Top