H-Diplo Essay 443- Francis M. Carroll on Learning the Scholar’s Craft33 min read

I have so enjoyed reading this series of articles in H-Diplo by diplomatic historians on how they came to this profession.  What particularly has fascinated me are the twists, turns, and chance that somewhat improbably led so many to rewarding careers in the study and teaching of the history of international affairs.  I certainly fall into this category.  I grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota, and was encouraged by my family to go to university.  However, it was hoped that this would lead me back to a management position in the local paper mill.  The school superintendent urged me to go to one of the state teachers’ colleges, but I had no intention of going into teaching at any level.  My church and Boy Scouts advisors, on the other hand, steered me to Carleton College, a small private liberal arts college in southern Minnesota, which proved a very broadening experience.

H-Diplo Essay 443

Essay Series on Learning the Scholar’s Craft: Reflections of Historians and International Relations Scholars
16 June 2022

“A Winding Path to Diplomatic History”

Series Editor: Diane Labrosse | Production Editor: George Fujii

Essay by Francis M. Carroll, University of Manitoba, Emeritus

I have so enjoyed reading this series of articles in H-Diplo by diplomatic historians on how they came to this profession.  What particularly has fascinated me are the twists, turns, and chance that somewhat improbably led so many to rewarding careers in the study and teaching of the history of international affairs.  I certainly fall into this category.  I grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota, and was encouraged by my family to go to university.  However, it was hoped that this would lead me back to a management position in the local paper mill.  The school superintendent urged me to go to one of the state teachers’ colleges, but I had no intention of going into teaching at any level.  My church and Boy Scouts advisors, on the other hand, steered me to Carleton College, a small private liberal arts college in southern Minnesota, which proved a very broadening experience.



In high school I had a keen interest in history and particularly the recent Second World War.  Those interests were encouraged by an exceptional history teacher for a semi-rural small town, a Harvard graduate who had served as a Marine officer on Guadalcanal during the war.  He urged me to explore the public library’s collection of historical and military books and journals.  At college a major in history seemed appropriate for an arts degree.  However, the Carleton History Department was then quite small, with only three full-time members, while the English Department was larger and more diverse.  I took several courses from the poet E. Reed Whittemore, who had founded the literary magazine, Furioso, with his Yale roommate James J. Angleton (remembered today for his controversial career in the OSS and the CIA).  While I was an undergraduate, Whittemore started the Carleton Miscellany, as well.  I also took an independent study course on James Joyce, which seemed very avant-garde at the time, but was in fact my introduction to things Irish.  Gradually I was drawn to a major in English and increasingly into the literary world that flourished at Carleton at the time.  I became the business manager and later a member of the editorial board of the college literary journal.  The prospect of a career in publishing seemed possible.  Nevertheless, I still took courses in history and international relations, particularly courses from the American history professor, Carlton C. Qualey, who had been a student of Allan Nevins at Columbia.  Professor Qualey was himself a specialist in immigration history, but he taught an excellent course in American diplomatic history and seemed on a first name basis with the many historians whose works he recommended.  Indeed, he later introduced me to luminaries such as Thomas A. Bailey at American Historical Association (AHA) and Organization of American Historians (OAH) conferences.  Professor Qualey steered his students towards the use of primary sources in writing papers, which led me to the government documents section of the college library as well as to volumes of letters and diaries.  The results were the most ambitious papers I wrote as an undergraduate.



When I graduated from Carleton in 1960 I was still looking forward to a career in publishing.  The college representative of Houghton Mifflin told me that to better work with arts and social science faculty members at the institutions where he was promoting textbooks he was going to take an inter-disciplinary degree in American Studies at the University of Minnesota.  That seemed like a sensible plan to gain entrance into the publishing world, so I too enrolled in the American Studies M.A. program at Minnesota in the autumn of 1960.  The University of Minnesota had pioneered American Studies and offered a very stimulating program.  Outstanding were courses in intellectual history from David W. Noble who had just published his monograph on the Progressive Era, politics from anti-war critic Mulford Q. Sibley, and, most exciting for a former English major, poetry from the celebrated poet Allen Tate.[1]  This intellectually enriching course of study did not, as it turned out, lead to a job with a publishing company, but it did open the door to an appointment in the English Department at South Dakota State University beginning in September 1962.  Rather to my surprise, I found college teaching more congenial than I might have thought—I got along well with my students and my colleagues seemed pleased with my work.  The problem was that my teaching was confined to first-year composition classes and it was clear that I would not have an opportunity to teach American literature for many years, much less an inter-disciplinary American Studies course.



Beginning a teaching career is always demanding, but for the first time since high school my time was my own from Friday afternoon through Sunday.  This gave me an opportunity to do a lot of reading and reflecting, which brought me back to the subject areas that I had found particularly engaging as both an undergraduate and a graduate student.  The dramatic international events of the early 1960s also helped me focus on American foreign relations and specifically on Anglo-American affairs.  This was of course the era of ‘Mac and Jack’—Harold Macmillan and John F. Kennedy.  Moreover, as I reviewed the numerous papers I had written, with a view to finding something suitable for publication, I concluded that the most well-argued and original writing I had done was for the US diplomatic history course I had taken at Carleton.  Although study abroad was a bit unusual in the 1960s, my college roommate had been given a Fulbright to go to England and my girlfriend was currently studying at Reading University, so I began writing to Sir Denis Brogan at Peterhouse Cambridge and James Joll at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford.

The admissions procedure for a research degree at these universities at the time was to submit promising research project.  That sent me back to my reading to try to put together a project that would explain an important issue in Anglo-American relations and also a topic that had not already been extensively researched.  My reading in early twentieth century British-American affairs lead me to conclude that one of the major obstacles to closer relations was the unresolved Irish question that generated strong anti-British sentiment within the politically powerful Irish community in the United States.  Moreover, this was a topic in which the only serious book was Charles Callan Tansill’s America and the Fight for Irish Freedom, 1866-1922.[2]

I drafted a proposal for a research project at Trinity College Dublin to examine the American influence in the Irish struggle with Britain for self-government from 1910 to 1923—a study of the complicated Anglo-Irish-American triangular relations.  I was accepted almost immediately and consequently my wife and I (Janet Foster Carroll and I were married in 1963) sailed for Ireland in September 1964 and settled into a comfortable flat in a house on Merrion Square, a few steps from Trinity College.  We found ourselves to be part of an extraordinary group of Americans studying in Ireland—Donald H. Akenson, Lawrence Arnold, James W. Flannery, Joseph M. Hernon, David W. Miller, Maureen O’Rourke Murphy, Roger Rosenblatt, Catherine B. Shannon, and Joseph Starr.

At Trinity my supervisor was R.B. McDowell, the legendary Junior Dean and a distinguished historian of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Ireland.[3]  His current project, however, was focussed on the history of the Irish Convention of 1917-18, a body it was hoped would devise a form of self-government acceptable to the several factions in Ireland and which had been created in part to satisfy pressure from the US to counter the anti-British agitation of the Irish community in America.[4]  McDowell was a most appropriate supervisor who gave me a lot of discretionary freedom but served as a very good editor as I began to produce work.  He sent me off directly to the National Library of Ireland.

In retrospect, it was fortunate that I had an M.A. and two years of teaching experience in the academic world because without the usual North American procedure of doctoral level courses and preliminary examination, I needed to do a great deal of reading to get to a level where I could profitably exploit the rich manuscript materials in the Library.  The Irish government had not yet opened its records for the period of the Irish revolutions, but the National Library contained the private papers of key figures of the 1916 Easter Rebellion and the Anglo-Irish War.  Periodic trips to London were needed to work in the British Museum, which held the papers of government officials, and in the old Public Records Office in Chancery Lane, that yielded Foreign Office documents (and also where I met Thomas E. Hachey, another American working on Anglo-Irish-American affairs).

The American dimension required research in US libraries and archives, so I flew back to the US in the summer of 1965 to work in the Harvard Library, the New York Public, the National Archives, and the Library of Congress.  On the strength of the new material from both the Irish-American community and from the administration of President Woodrow Wilson, I was able to upgrade my status at Trinity from that of a candidate for a Master of Letters degree to a candidate for a Ph.D.  Having found so much relevant documentary material in the US, my wife and I moved in 1966-67 to Washington, D.C., so that I could do continued research in the rich collections of Wilson era papers in the Library of Congress and State Department documents in the National Archives.

At last I had the documentary material with which to write a thesis on Anglo-Irish-American relations in the crucial period of the First World War and the Irish War for Independence.  Unfortunately, we had also run out of money, but happily I was able to secure an appointment for 1967-68 as a leave replacement in the History Department at Kalamazoo College (and my wife, having completed her M.A., secured an appointment in the English Department at Western Michigan University).  This would now be my third year of university teaching but my first experience as a history lecturer.  I taught the introductory course in US History, the twentieth-century America course, and, to my great pleasure, US Foreign Policy. It was a very demanding year, writing new lectures almost every day, but also very gratifying. The students were excellent and my colleagues congenial.  I enjoyed and was stimulated by reading, talking about, and teaching history.

My original thoughts of a career in publishing were steadily diminishing.  I was by this time already a member of the AHA and the OAH, and I now joined the American Committee for Irish Studies (ACIS), for which I gave my first paper in the spring of 1968, and through which I met such leading historians as Emmet Larkin and Lawrence J. McCaffrey.  I was also recruited by Joseph P. O’Grady, who himself was a specialist in US diplomatic history and Irish-American affairs, to join the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR).[5]  Little progress had been made in completing the Ph.D. thesis during the year in Kalamazoo, however, so my wife and I returned to Dublin in September of 1968 so that I could complete the dissertation.  The opening of the Lloyd George papers and the British Cabinet minutes for the war years required still more work in London, and the publication of Alan Ward’s book, Ireland and Anglo-American Relations, 1899-1921 in 1969 necessitated some careful re-writing to avoid seeming to trespass on his thesis.[6]  Although much of my text, from US entry into the First World War on, dealt with Anglo-American relations, taking a page from Dr. McDowell’s eighteenth-century studies, I titled my dissertation, “American Opinion on the Irish Question, 1910-23.”



For historians the academic world had taken a dramatic shift between 1967-68 and 1969.  Before leaving Kalamazoo College I had turned down several university appointments, thinking rather smugly that they were not quite suitable.  However, as 1968 unfolded into 1969, my letters of inquiry and my applications were consistently turned down, so I flew back to Philadelphia for the “job market” at the Spring meeting of the OAH.  I interviewed for, and was offered an appointment at, the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, which I accepted, thinking it would be an interesting place to be for a year or two.  After all, I had grown up in northern Minnesota and visited Winnipeg as a child, and I had also played hockey as a boy and listened to “Hockey Night in Canada” on the radio; my wife had a Canadian-born father and had also travelled extensively to see her Canadian cousins.

The University of Manitoba, influenced by the Oxford-Cambridge academic structure, had several constituent colleges, and I was assigned to St. John’s College, the Anglican institution that had antecedents that went back to the Hudson’s Bay Company and missionary efforts in the 1820s.  The College was chartered by the provincial legislature in 1871, before the University was actually established in 1877.  I was to be a Fellow of the College and an Assistant Professor in the University’s Department of History, with a specialty in US diplomatic history.  While the College was relatively small, with a faculty of about 15, the University was quite substantial; the History Department was very strong, numbering about 30, of which 5 had a US specialty.  I initially taught the third-year course in US Foreign Policy (and eventually the second-year survey in American History and occasionally a graduate course) and two sections of a first-year course titled “The History of the North Atlantic Community,” starting in roughly the seventeenth-century and extending into the Cold War period.  John Bartlet Brebner’s North Atlantic Triangle: The Interplay of Canada, the United States and Great Britain was the basic text.[7]  A course on Anglo-Canadian-American relations was perfect for someone who had just completed a dissertation on Anglo-Irish-American relations, and indeed quite a bit of Irish history was worked into my lectures as well.  All of this led me in several new directions, specifically a third-year Canadian-American relations course by the early 1980s, a second-year Irish history course in late 1989, and the history of northern Minnesota—about which more later.

Much of the matter of Anglo-Canadian-American relations dealt with treaty negotiations, boundary disputes, arbitration tribunals, and the like—all of which were international law subjects in which I had no training.  After inquiring at several law schools, I was offered the appointment of Visiting Scholar at the Columbia University Law School in New York for the autumn term in 1980.  This was a wonderful opportunity to work on these international law issues under such scholars as Oscar Schacter, Louis Henkin, and Hans Smit.  All of the “foreign” Visiting Scholars were given a two-week course to introduce us to the Law School Library and provide us with the tools to access and work with US legal and international law materials.  In my case, I was able to apply this knowledge in the five months in New York to do research in the incredible libraries and archives in the city, as well as in several later projects.  Columbia proved to be a major step in my education.  Writing my thesis for Trinity had led me into US State Department and British Foreign Office documents, private papers, newspapers and journalist opinion shaping, and ethnic-immigrant organization and nationalism.  University lecturing had encouraged a broad sense of the sweep of international history.  Columbia Law School gave me a grasp of the elements of international law that provided the framework within which diplomacy took place.  I felt I now had the working tools I needed.



Of course, after having secured a teaching appointment in 1969 upon completion of my doctorate at Trinity, the pressing professional necessity was to get my thesis revised and published.  The first several summers in the 1970s were spent in Dublin, London, and New York working through manuscript material to expand and refine the arguments in my text, which was accepted by Gill and Macmillan in Dublin and St. Martin’s Press in New York; the book came out in 1978 as American Opinion and the Irish Question, 1910-23.[8]  The publication of the book opened several doors for me.  I was invited to contribute seven essays about the Irish-American nationalist groups active in the early twentieth-century to Michael F. Funchion’s book, Irish American Volunteer Organizations, and an article titled “America and Irish Political Independence, 1910-1933” for P.J. Drudy’s book, The Irish in America: Immigration, Assimilation and Impact—all of which I was able to write while at Columbia.[9]

New York also gave me time to work in the manuscript collections in the American Irish Historical Society and the New York Public Library, where I discovered distinct separate parts of the journals kept by the American Commission on Irish Independence.  This was a group of three leading Irish-Americans commissioned by the 1919 Irish Race Convention to go to the Paris Peace Conference to arrange for a delegation from the new Dáil Éireann government in Dublin to present their case for recognition as an independent republic.  (Albeit unsuccessful in this task, the Commission generated a great deal of publicity for the Irish nationalist cause in 1919.)  I was able to bring these fragments together and, along with copies of their correspondence and their report, compile a manuscript titled, The American Commission on Irish Independence, 1919: The Diary, Correspondence and Report.

At just that time, 1984-85, I was appointed the Mary Ball Washington Professor of American History at University College Dublin where I was encouraged to submit this text to the Irish Manuscripts Commission, which published the book in 1985.[10]  It was a pleasure to give tutorials and lectures on US Foreign Policy and America since 1865 to the Irish students at University College Dublin.  UCD also introduced me to such leading Irish history scholars as Kevin B. Nowlan, F.X. Martin, O.S.A., Sister Margaret MacCurtain, and Donal McCartney, and a new generation of contemporaries: Ronan Fanning, Joseph J. Lee, James McGuire, Mary Daly, and Michael Laffan.



All of this drew me further into Irish affairs.  Working in the Frank P. Walsh papers at the New York Public Library in 1980 not only revealed parts of the diary of the American Commission on Irish Independence, which he chaired, but it also illuminated the complexities of the Irish Bond-Certificate campaign, in which he had a major role, and which raised some $5,746,360 for the embattled Dáil government during 1920-21—roughly two thirds of the Dáil’s revenue.  When the Civil War broke out in Ireland in 1922, both sides claimed the unexpended funds in US and Irish banks resulting in complicated court cases in both countries.  The director of the Visiting Scholar program at the Columbia Law School, Peter Strauss, arranged with a partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell, the New York law firm that represented the Irish Free State, for me to examine their records of the case, which in turn was approved by the Irish Consul General in New York, Sean O’hUiginn (later Ambassador to the US).

This enabled me to work through the legal issues and facilitated putting together a narrative of both the fund-raising efforts and the tangled legal aftermath in a manuscript titled Money for Ireland: Finance, Diplomacy, Politics, and the First Dáil Éireann Loans, 1919-1936.  Not an obviously popular topic, the manuscript did not find a publisher until Praeger brought it out in a diplomatic series in 2002.[11]  In the meantime, in 1998 I was encouraged by Maureen O’Rourke Murphy, who was then at Hofstra University and the former president of ACIS, to apply for the Bicentennial Fellowship in Belfast, sponsored by the British Council, the Department of Education for Northern Ireland, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, and the US Consulate General, to write a history of the American Consulate commemorating its two hundred years of unbroken service.  After going through the microfilm copies in Winnipeg of the US Consular files, my wife and I flew to Belfast in June of 1998, just as the elections were being held following the Good Friday Agreement, ending the thirty-year period of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland.

Coincidentally, it was almost thirty years since we had left Dublin for Winnipeg in 1969 as “The Troubles” were rising in violence, and although things were calming down in 1998 (British soldiers were taken off the streets of Belfast shortly after we arrived) terrible atrocities did still take place at regular intervals—such as the Omagh bombing.  Both the Public Record Office and Queen’s University Belfast opened their facilities to me and by December, when we returned to Canada, I had a draft of what became, The American Presence in Ulster: A Diplomatic History, 1796-1996, published by Catholic University of America Press in 2005.[12]  This project enabled me to shift my focus from early twentieth century Ireland to the history of emigration and trade with the north of Ireland over two centuries, as well as to examine specifically the institution of the US Consular Service and the history of its evolution and professionalization.



I was able to take early retirement from the University of Manitoba in 1999 while retaining an honorary connection with St. John’s College and the appointment of Professor Emeritus by the University in 2002.  Relieved of fixed commitments, I was available to accept several stimulating opportunities.  In 2000 James S. Rogers, the Director of the Center of Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, invited me to be the Visiting Irish Historian, where I taught both a survey in Irish history and, for the first time, a class on the Irish in the US.  A major project in Ireland was the work of the Royal Irish Academy to compile a definitive Dictionary of Irish Biography, to which I was asked by the General Editor, James McGuire, to contribute eight entries on Irish figures with careers in North American affairs.[13]

In 2006, the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Irish Rising, I was asked to give a talk on the American role in the Rising, sponsored by the Irish Consulate General in New York, at the American Irish Historical Society.[14]  Thomas E. Hachey, then Director of the Irish Studies Program at Boston College, invited me to be the John J. Burns Library Visiting Scholar in 2010, where I taught a course called “Ireland, Diplomacy and the Two World Wars.”  In Boston and as the Lawrence W. McBride Lecturer at the 2011 Mid-West ACIS Conference I was able to present papers on research based on recently released Irish documents and focused on US-Irish diplomatic relations in the 1920s.[15]  That was augmented by being asked by Marion R. Casey to give the Ernie O’Malley Lecture at the Glucksman Ireland House at New York University in October 2015—the first of a series of programs planned to celebrate the centennial of the 1916 Dublin Rising.  This lecture series, and the conference planned for 21 April 2016, focussed on the American contribution to the events of 1916 and to the subsequent struggle to obtain self-government and Independence.  These papers were published as Ireland’s Allies: America and the 1916 Easter Rising.[16]

The American Irish Historical Society, in conjunction with the Irish Consulate General in New York, also asked me to serve as the historical curator of an exhibition titled, “… supported by her exiled children in America,” at their New York 5th Avenue building as part of the 1916 centenary.  These commemorations called attention to both the excellent recent scholarship on Irish affairs and the valuable Irish documents that had been released to the public.[17]  Based on this new scholarship and new documents, I decided to write a new interpretation of American Irish relations from roughly the 1916 Rising through the First World War, the struggle for independence, and the creation of the Irish Free State.  Moreover, I wanted to extend the narrative through the 1920s to emphasize the extent to which the US government gave diplomatic recognition and support to the new Irish Free State, albeit a Dominion of the British Commonwealth.  In short, my book, America and the Making of An Independent Ireland, was intended to emphasize the international relations dimension rather than an ethnic studies element.

Encouraged by Kevin Kenny, the Director of Irish Studies at Glucksman Ireland House, and by his associate, Miriam Nyhan Grey, I submitted my manuscript to NYU Press, which brought it out in 2021.[18]  Over the past fifty years, helped by the release of Irish External Affairs papers and the publication of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, US-Irish diplomatic studies have been steadily developed by Alan Ward, Thomas E. Hachey, T. Ryle Dwyer, Bernadette Whelan, Troy D. Davis, Michael Doorley, and Simon Topping.[19]



One subject area in which I never imagined I would pursue was Canadian-American relations, but the focus of a university lecturer is inevitably drawn in several directions.  I mentioned the first-year course that I initially taught in Anglo-Canadian-American relations, which was an attractive intellectual challenge.  As I taught US foreign policy, as well, I increasingly researched the literature on those friction points between the US and Britain over Canadian issues.  Much of the best historical writing was published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace before the Second World War in their Canada and United States series.  When my first sabbatical came up in 1975-76, I started work on a fresh study of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, which settled the troublesome eastern Canadian American boundary.

My wife and I spent five months in London and five months in Washington, D.C., while I researched the basic documents for a monograph on the 1842 treaty.  However, before I had made any progress on a manuscript, Howard Jones’s excellent volume, To the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, came out in 1977.[20]  I put my notes aside and pursued other projects, although the issues of the boundary were never far from my thoughts.  When I was eligible for a sabbatical in 1994-95, I decided to return to the topic of the eastern Canadian American boundary, but to write a history of the four boundary commissions authorized by the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812, as a northern counterpart to the Lewis and Clark expedition—a monumental effort to explore, survey, map, and, hopefully, decide the northern boundary.  I was delighted to find letters and memoirs of Boundary Commission crews in the National Archives of Canada, the New Brunswick Museum, the Maine Historical Society, and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, in addition to State Department and Foreign Office papers I had already examined.

An enormous help was my appointment as the John Adams Fellow at the Institute of United States Studies at the University of London, which entitled me to an office in the Senate Tower, access to the Institute for Historical Research, and the privilege of renting a University of London flat in Bloomsbury.  The work of the boundary commissions constitutes a major section of the book (five chapters), but the study eventually extended from the end of the Revolutionary War to the Webster-Ashburton Treaty itself.[21]  Thanks to my Columbia Law School experience, I could give particular attention to the several arbitration procedures.[22]  The book, A Good and Wise Measure: The Search for the Canadian-American Boundary, 1783-1842, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2001 and awarded the Albert B. Corey Prize given jointly by the AHA and the Canadian Historical Association (CHA) in 2001-02, and the John Wesley Dafoe Prize, given by the J.W. Dafoe Foundation in 2002.  The CHA organized a symposium on the book at their annual meeting in Halifax in 2003; I was invited to give a paper on the boundary question at the German Association for American Studies meeting in Tutzing, Germany, in 2006; and I was asked to join a symposium on “The Mitchell Map and Its Role in Shaping History” at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., in 2008.  Canadian-American relations proved to be very rewarding.

Still another area of research and writing that I never anticipated was that of northeastern Minnesota history.  In my periodic trips to Washington I saw my boyhood friend, Franklin R. Raiter, and our conversations inevitably turned to the great 1918 Cloquet-Moose Lake forest fire that burned over 1,500 square miles, killed 453 people, displaced 11,382, and shaped the world of our childhood.  This was the worst disaster in Minnesota history but no proper account of the tragedy had been written.  We decided to write it, and it proved to be an intriguing topic, with several fires coming together, climactic weather conditions, elaborate rescue operations, massive relief efforts, and protracted legal and legislative procedures to obtain compensation.  The training at Columbia guided me into the Minnesota State Supreme Court records with pages of witness testimony as well as to an understanding of the complicated compensation cases.  The Minnesota Historical Society Press published our book in 1990, The Fires of Autumn: the Cloquet-Moose Lake Disaster of 1918.[23]

The forest-fire book led me to several other regional projects.  The Minnesota Historical Society Press asked me to write an extensive introduction to their reprint of the 1941 Federal Writers’ Program book which had been put together under the Works Progress Administration (WPA).  This book came out in 1988 as The WPA Guide to the Minnesota Arrowhead Country.[24]  Articles written in the early 1980s about the Cloquet-Moose Lake fire led to an invitation by the Carlton County Historical Society to write a history of the county.  This presented a fresh intellectual challenge—the creation of the county and its settlement dated from the mid-nineteenth century and was shaped by farming and lumbering and railroad building, but the indigenous communities had timeless origins and even the French explorers traversed the region in the 1620s and 1630s, a time when Pilgrims and Puritans were settling New England.  Years of working in Anglo-Canadian-American history gave me the resources to put this ‘local’ history in an appropriate context.[25]  The county historical society later asked me to collaborate with the Director, Marlene Wisuri, in producing a short, illustrated history of the county in 1997 and a history of the town of Carlton, the county seat, in 2006.[26]  The fact that Winnipeg was an easy day’s drive away from Carlton County unquestionably made that diversion possible and logical.



Retirement also allowed for some new ventures in international affairs.  Gordon Martel at the University of Northern British Columbia was editing the Encyclopedia of Diplomacy for Wiley-Blackwell, and he invited me to join him as one of several associate editors.  I reviewed numerous entries for him, making editorial suggestions, and I wrote eleven entries on international issues and biographical sketches of foreign affairs figures.[27]  A seemingly more whimsical project was writing a history of the sinking of the passenger ship Athenia on the first day of the Second World War, 3 September 1939, sailing from Glasgow, Belfast, and Liverpool to Montreal.  General histories of the war hardly mention the sinking and even the naval historians Samuel Eliot Morrison and Stephen W. Roskill only gave it a few lines.[28]  The one book on the sinking had been written in the 1950s, but an entirely new perspective was possible with US, British, Canadian, and German documents now available, together with quite extensive survivor accounts.  Apart from the tragic elements, the sinking also expedited the British decision to implement convoys during the first week of the war, prompted the first of the Franklin D. Roosevelt-Winston Churchill trans-Atlantic telephone conversations, and helped push Congress to amend the Neutrality Laws in 1939.  The book, Athenia Torpedoed: The U-Boat Attack that Ignited the Battle of the Atlantic, also drew me to the US Naval War College Museum to give one of their 8 Bells Lectures.[29]  In the end, this project was not whimsical at all, but another compelling Anglo-Canadian-American study.



Thirty years at the University of Manitoba and St. John’s College drew me into several academic positions I also never expected.  When I arrived in Winnipeg in 1969 the turmoil in the academic world had spilled over into Canada.  Even St. John’s College, a small, seemingly sleepy arts college with Anglican origins, was growing from a faculty of about 15 up to something like 30 and integrating its teaching program more fully into that of the University.  I became involved in the effort to give the faculty a larger voice in the day-to-day running of the College, which in the past had been left to the Warden of the College and the church-appointed College Council.  I was appointed Dean of Studies from 1976 to 1978 to help facilitate that change.  Just a few years later, 1985-86, I was asked to serve as Acting Warden—the first layperson to hold the position.  The College later elected me to chair the St. John’s Assembly in 1989-90 and asked me to serve on the Capital Fund Raising Committee for two separate campaigns.  In 2016 I was voted the Fellows Recognition Award by the College Assembly.  The History Department had me chair numerous committees from time-to-time, but also elected me Associate Head from 1982 to 1984.  As for the University of Manitoba itself, I served on the University Senate from 1985 to 1986.  My innocent pursuit of a Master’s Degree in 1960 in order to enter the publishing world, led me, instead, into a rich academic adventure, along diverse paths, that I could never have imagined.


Francis M. Carroll is Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba and a Fellow of St. John’s College.  He holds a Ph.D. Degree from Trinity College Dublin.  Carroll has written or edited thirteen books and numerous articles.  His book, A Good and Wise Measure: The Search for the Canadian-American Boundary, 1783-1842 (University of Toronto Press, 2001), was awarded the Albert B. Corey Prize by the AHA and the CHA in 2001-02 and the John Wesley Dafoe Prize by the Dafoe Foundation in 2002.  He has served as the Mary Ball Washington Professor of American History at University College Dublin, Visiting Historian at the University of St. Thomas, and the John J. Burns Library Visiting Scholar at Boston College, and he has held fellowships at Columbia University Law School, the University of London, and the Bicentennial Fellowship in Belfast.



[1] David W. Noble, The Paradox of Progressive Thought (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1958); Mulford Q. Sibley, The Quiet Battle: Writings on the Theory and Practice of Non-Violent Resistance (New York: Doubleday, 1962); Francis M. Carroll, “Recollections of Being a Student of Allen Tate,” Saint Austin Review 17: 5 (September/October 2017): 17-18.

[2] Charles Callan Tansill, America and the Fight for Irish Freedom, 1866-1922 (New York: Devin-Adair Company, 1957).

[3] Anne Leonard, The Junior Dean: Encounters With a Legend (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2003).

[4] R.B. McDowell, The Irish Convention, 1917-18 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970).

[5] Joseph P. O’Grady, Irish-Americans and Anglo-American Relations, 1880-1888 (New York: Arno press, 1976); and O’Grady, ed., The Immigrants’ Influence on Wilson’s Peace Policies (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1967).

[6] Alan Ward, Ireland and Anglo-American Relations, 1899-1921 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969).

[7] John Bartlet Brebner, North Atlantic Triangle: The Interplay of Canada, the United States and Great Britain (New York: Columbia University Press, 1945).

[8] Carroll, American Opinion and the Irish Question, 1910-23 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1978) (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978).

[9] Michael F. Funchion, ed., Irish American Voluntary Organizations (Westport and London: Greenwood Press, 1983); and P.J. Drudy, ed., The Irish in America: Emigration, Assimilation and Impact (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).

[10] Carroll, ed., The American Commission on Irish Independence, 1919: The Diary, Correspondence and Report (Dublin: Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1985).

[11] Carroll, “Eamon de Valera and the Irish Bond-Certificate Drive, 1919-1921,” in Diana Ben Merre and Maureen Murphy, eds., James Joyce and his Contemporaries (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1989).  This was the only interest shown to my study of the international Irish finances in the revolutionary period until Praeger in 2002.  Carroll, Money for Ireland: Finance, Diplomacy, Politics, and the First Dáil Éireann Loans, 1919-1936 (Westport: Praeger, 2002).

[12]. Carroll, The American Presence in Ulster: A Diplomatic History, 1796-1996 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2005).

[13] James McGuire, ed., Dictionary of Irish Biography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).  Several of these entries have been reprinted.

[14] Carroll, “The American Role in the Irish Rising of 1916,” The Recorder 19: 2 (Summer, 2007): 9-22.

[15] Carroll, “Protocol and International Politics, 1928: The Secretary of State Goes to Ireland, Eire-Ireland 36:4 (Winter 1992): 45-57; Carroll, “Official Visits: President Cosgrave Comes to Ottawa,” Canadian Journal of Irish Studies 36:2 (Fall, 2010): 177-190; Carroll, “The First Official Visit of William T. Cosgrave to the United States,” New Hibernia Review 16:2 (Summer 2012): 77-97; and Carroll, “Ireland Among the Nations of the Earth: Ireland’s Foreign Relations from 1923 to 1949,” Études irlandaises, No 41–1 (printemps-été 2016): 35-52.

[16] Miriam Nyhan Grey, ed., Ireland’s Allies: America and the 1916 Easter Rising (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2016).

[17] In addition to Ireland’s Allies, cited above, see David Brundage, Irish Nationalists in America: The Poliutics of Exile, 1798-1998 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016); Michael Doorley, Irish-American Diaspora Nationalism, The Friends of Irish Freedom, 1916-1935 (Dublin: Four Courts Pres, 2005); Terry Golway, Irish Rebel: John Devoy and America’s Fight for Ireland’s Freedom (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998); Bernadette Whelan, United States Foreign Policy and Ireland: From Empire to Independence, 1913-39 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2006); Eda Sagarra, Envoy Extraordinary: Professor Smiddy of Cork (Dublin: Institute of Public Administration, 2018); and Robert Schmuhl, Ireland’s Exiled Children: America and the Easter Rising (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).

[18] Carroll, America and the Making of An Independent Ireland: A History (New York: New York University Press, 2021).

[19] Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, 1919-1922 (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1998), Vol. I.  This series now extends to volume XII, 1961-1965.

[20] Howard Jones, To the Webster-Ashburton Treaty: A Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1783-1843 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977).

[21] Carroll, A Good and Wise Measure: The Search for the Canadian-American Boundary, 1783-1843 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001).

[22] Carroll, “Kings and Crises: Arbitrating the Canadian-American Boundary Dispute and the Belgian Crisis of 1830-1832,” The New England Quarterly 73:2 (June, 2000): 179-201.

[23] Carroll and Franklin R. Raiter, The Fires of Autumn: The Cloquet-Moose Lake Disaster of 1918 (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1990).

[24] The WPA Guide to the Minnesota Arrowhead Country, Introduction by Carroll (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1988).

[25] Carroll, Crossroads in Time: A History of Carlton County, Minnesota (Cloquet: Carlton County Historical Society, 1987).

[26] Carroll and Marline Wisuri, Reflections of Our Past: A Pictorial History of Carlton County (Virginia Beach: The Donning Company, 1997); and Carroll and Marline Wisuri, Carlton Chronicles (Cloquet: Carlton County Historical Society, 2008).

[27] Gordon Martel, ed., Encyclopedia of Diplomacy (New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2018).

[28] Samuel Eliot Morrison, The Battle of the Atlantic, 1939-1943 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1947); S.W Roskill, The War at Sea, 1939-1945: Defensive (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1954), vol. 1; and Max Caulfield, Tomorrow Never Came: The Story of the S.S. Athenia (New York: W.W. Norton, 1959).

[29] Carroll, Athenia Torpedoed: The U-Boat Attack that Ignited the Battle of the Atlantic (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2012; (Barnsley: Pen & Sword Books, 2012).  See also, Carroll, “The First Shot Was the Last Straw: The Sinking of the T.S.S. Athenia in September 1939 and British Naval Policy in the Second World War,” Diplomacy & Statecraft 20:5 (September 2009): 403-413.