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Colony Of Maryland

A Brief History

"Maryland was so called in honor of Henrietta Maria, Queen of Charles I, in his patent to Lord Baltimore, on June 30, 1632.

Sir George Calvert, whose title was Lord Baltimore, was a Roman Catholic nobleman. Finding the laws against the Roman Catholics in England severe, he resolved to emigrate to Virginia, in the hope of enjoying a liberty of conscience which was not permitted in England under the reign of James I. But he was disappointed, as the Virginians proved nearly as intolerant as those he had left; and he felt compelled to seek another asylum.

This he proposed to find, a territory on both sides of Chesapeake Bay, then inhabited only by natives; and which having sufficiently explored, he returned to England, for the purpose of procuring a patent of it, from Charles I, who succeeded James I. He readily received a grant of the territory; but he died before the patent was completed.

It was, however, subsequently made out, in 1632, in favor of Cecil Calvert, son of Sir George, who inherited his father's title, and who now came into possession of the country from the Potomac to the fortieth degree of north latitude. This grant covered the land which had long before been granted to Virginia, and what was now granted to Lord Baltimore was in part subsequently given to William Penn. In consequence of these arbitrary acts of the crown, long and obstinate contentions arose between the descendants of Penn and Lord Baltimore.

In 1633, Lord Baltimore appointed his brother, Leonard Calvert, governor of the province, who, with about two hundred planters, mostly Roman Catholics, left England near the close of this year, and arriving, in 1634, at the mouth of the river Potomac, purchased from the Indians Yoamaco, a considerable village, where they formed a settlement by the name of Saint Mary's.

Several circumstances contributed to the rapid growth and prosperity of Maryland. Her people were exempted from hostilities from the Indians, having satisfied them in the purchase of their land; the soil was fertile, and the seasons mild. But, more than all, their charter conferred on them more ample privileges than had been conferred in any other colony in America. It secured to emigrants equality in religious rights, and civil freedom; and it granted the privilege of passing laws, without any reservation on the part of the crown to revoke them. Even taxes could not be imposed upon the inhabitants without their consent.

At first, when few in number, the freemen assembled in person, and enacted the necessary laws; but, in 1639, it was found expedient to constitute a "house of assembly." This consisted of representatives chosen by the people, of others appointed by the proprietor, and, of the governor and secretary, who sat together. In 1650, the legislative body was divided into an upper and lower house; the members of the former being appointed by the proprietor, those of the latter by the people.

Few of the colonies escaped internal troubles, nor did Maryland form an exception. In 1635, a rebellion broke out, chiefly caused by one William Clayborne. This man, under license of the king to trade with the Indians, had farmed a settlement an the Island of Kent, nearly opposite Annapolis; and when the grant was made to Lard Baltimore, he refused to submit to his authority, and attempted to maintain his possession by force of arms. His followers, however, were taken prisoners, and he himself fled. The Maryland assembly confiscated his estate, and declared him guilty of treason.

Early in 1645, Clayborne once mare returned to Maryland, and, heading a party of insurgents, overthrew the government. Calvert, the governor, was compelled to take refuge in Virginia. The revolt, however, was suppressed the following year, and Calvert resumed his office.

In 1649, the assembly of the colony reiterated in solemn form the original and fundamental principles of religious toleration of Lord Baltimore, in an act that no one professing faith in Jesus Christ should be molested on account of such belief, or in the free exercise of their religion; and, that anyone who should reproach another on account of his religious creed should pay a fine to the person thus abused. Thus religious toleration was established by law; and its benign influence was early perceived. Maryland presented an asylum for all who felt themselves religiously oppressed; and hither came Puritans from the south, and church men from the north, and found a welcome reception, and the largest liberty.

In 1651, Parliament, having triumphed over King Charles I, appointed commissioners, of whom Clayborne, the enemy of Maryland, was one, 'to reduce and govern the colonies within the Bay of Chesapeake.' This gave rise to a civil war in Maryland, between the Catholics, who adhered to the proprietor, and the Protestants, who sided with Parliament. At first, Stone, the lieutenant of the proprietor, was removed; but was soon restored, on his consenting to acknowledge the authority of Parliament. But in 1654, the commissioners again visited Maryland, and required him to surrender the government.

The next assembly that convened, which was entirely under the influence of the Protestant and now victorious party, ordained that no person professing the Catholic religion was entitled to the protection of the laws. Early the following year in 1655, civil war commenced. Having organized a military band, Stone assumed the government, intending to maintain his position by force; but the Protestant party resisted, and, at length, a battle ensued, in which the Catholics were defeated, with a loss of fifty killed. Stone was taken prisoner, and was executed, with four others, men of note from the province.

At the Restoration in 1660, Lord Baltimore was once more restored to his rights, and Philip Calvert appointed governor. A general pardon was extended to all political offenders, and the former mild and liberal principles of the proprietor once more held sway in Maryland.

Towards the close of the year 1675, Cecil Calvert, the Lord Baltimore, the founder of Maryland, died; and was succeeded by his son Charles, both in his honors and estates. For more than forty years, Cecil Calvert, in presiding over the province as its proprietor, had displayed the highest regard for the rights and happiness of others. He deserved well of posterity, and his name will be long honored and revered by the people of Maryland. In integrity, benevolence and practical wisdom, the son strongly resembled the father.

On the accession of William and Mary to the throne of England in 1689, the tranquility of Maryland was again interrupted. A rumor was fabricated, and industriously circulated, that the Catholics had combined with the Indians to cut off the Protestants of the colony. This roused the Catholics in their own defense, and to the assertion of the rights of the king and queen. The Protestants attempted to subdue the Catholics by force, and were compelled to relinquish the government into the hands of the former.

And in their hands it continued until 1691, when the king, in the exercise of sovereign power, wrested the province from Lord Baltimore, and erected it into a royal government. And in the further exercise of sovereignty, the following year, he sent Sir Lionel Copley as royal governor, 'to take charge of the province.' Under him religious toleration was disallowed, and the Church of England's forms of worship were established and supported by law.

But in 1716 this great wrong was rectified. The heir of Lord Baltimore, although an infant, was reestablished in his rights; the proprietary form of government was restored; and thus matters continued until the war of the Revolution, when the people formed a constitution for themselves, and no longer recognized the claims of the onetime proprietor to either jurisdiction or property.

 

— A History of the United States, by Charles A. Goodrich, 1857 (edited)

 

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