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[251] which was now convened, examined its obligations,
Chap VII.} 1639
and, though not all its acts were carried through the forms essential to their validity, it yet displayed the spirit of the people and the times by framing a declaration of rights. Acknowledging the duty of allegiance to the English monarch, and securing to Lord Baltimore his prerogatives, it likewise confirmed to the inhabitants of Maryland all the liberties which an Englishman can enjoy at home; established a system of representative government; and asserted for the general assemblies in the province all such powers as may be exercised by the commons of England.1 Indeed, throughout the whole colonial legislation of Maryland, the body representing the people, in its support of the interests and civil liberties of the province, was never guilty of timidity or treachery.2 It is strange that religious bigotry could ever stain the statute-book of a colony founded on the basis of the freedom of conscience. An apprehension of some remote danger of persecution seems even then to have hovered over the minds of the Roman Catholics; and, at this session, they secured to their church its rights and liberties. Those rights and those liberties, it is plain from the charter, could be no more than the tranquil exercise of the Roman worship. The constitution had not yet attained a fixed form; thus far it had been a species of democracy under a hereditary patriarch. The act3 constituting the assembly marks the transition to a representative government. At this session, any freeman, who had taken no part in the election, might attend in person; henceforward, the governor might summon his friends by special

1 Bacon, 1638—9, c. l II.

2 McMahon. 149.

3 Bacon, 1638—9, c. i. Griffith's Maryland, 7.

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