Colonization of Maryland.
the limits of Virginia
, by its second charter, ex-
tended two hundred miles north of Old Point
Comfort, and therefore included all the soil which subsequently formed the state of Maryland
It was not long before the country towards the head of the Chesapeake
was explored; settlements in Accomack were extended; and commerce was begun with the tribes which Smith
had been the first to visit.
, the secretary of the colony, ‘made a discovery into the
great bay,’ as far as the River Patuxent
, which he ascended; but his voyage probably reached no farther to the north.
The English settlement of a hundred men, which he is represented to have found already established,1
was rather a consequence of his voyage, and seems to have been on the eastern shore, perhaps within the limits of Virginia
The hope ‘of a very good trade of furs,’ animated the adventurers; and if the plantations advanced but slowly, there is yet evidence, that commerce with the Indians was earnestly pursued under the sanction of the colonial government.3
An attempt was made to obtain a monopoly of this commerce4
by William Clayborne
, whose resolute and
enterprising spirit was destined to exert a powerful
and long-continued influence.
His first appearance in America
was as a surveyor,5
sent by the London company to make a map of the country.
At the fall of the corporation, he had been appointed by King James a
member of the council;6
and, on the accession of Charles, was continued in office, and, in repeated com-
missions, was nominated secretary of state.7
same time, he received authority from the governors of Virginia
to discover the source of the Bay
of the Chesapeake
, and, indeed, any part of that province, from the thirty-fourth to the forty-first degree of latitude.8
It was, therefore, natural that he should become familiar with the opportunities for traffic which the country afforded; and the jurisdiction and the settlement of Virginia
seemed about to extend to the forty-first parallel of latitude, which was then the boundary of New England
Upon his favorable representation, a company was formed in England
for trading with the natives; and, through the agency of Sir William Alexander
, the Scottish proprietary of Nova Scotia
, a royal license was issued, sanctioning the commerce, and conferring on Clayborne
powers of government over the companions of his voyages.9 Harvey
enforced the commands of his sovereign, and
confirmed the license by a colonial commission.10
The Dutch plantations
were esteemed to border upon Virginia
After long experience as a surveyor, and after years employed in discoveries, Clayborne
, now acting under the royal license, formed establishments, not only on Kent Island
, then within the Old Dominion, but
also near the mouth of the Susquehannah
colony of Virginia
anticipated the extension of its commerce and its limits; and, as mistress of all the vast and commodious waters of the Chesapeake
, and of the soil on both sides of the Potomac
, indulged the hope of obtaining the most brilliant commercial success, and rising into powerful opulence, without the competition of a rival.
It was the peculiar fortune of the United States
, that they were severally colonized by men, in origin, religious faith, and purposes, as various as the climes which are included within their limits.
could complete its settlements, and confirm its claims to jurisdiction over the country north of the Potomac
, a new government was erected, on a foundation as extraordinary as its results were benevolent.
Sir George Calvert
had early become interested in colonial establishments in America
A native of Yorkshire
educated at Oxford
with a mind enlarged by
extensive travel, on his entrance into life befriended by Sir Robert Cecil
, advanced to the honors of knighthood, and at length employed as one of the two secre-
taries of state,14
he not only secured the consideration of his patron and his sovereign,15
but the good opinion of the world.
He was chosen by a disputed major-
ity to represent in parliament his native county of Yorkshire.16
His capacity for business, his industry, and his fidelity, are acknowledged by all historians.
In an age when religious controversy still continued
to be active, and when the increasing divisions among
Protestants were spreading a general alarm, his mind sought relief from controversy in the bosom of the Roman
Catholic church; and, preferring the avowal of his opinions to the emoluments of office, he resigned
his place, and openly professed his conversion.
King James was never bitter against the Catholics, who respected his pretensions as a monarch; Calvert
retained his place in the privy council, and was advanced to the dignity of an Irish peerage.
He had, from early life, shared in the general enthusiasm of England
in favor of American plantations; he had been a member of the great company for Virginia
; and, while secretary of state, he had obtained a special patent for the southern promontory of Newfoundland
How zealous he was in selecting suitable emigrants; how earnest to promote habits of domestic order and economical industry; how lavishly he expended his estate in advancing the interests of his settlement on the rugged shores of Avalon,17
—is related by those who have written of his life.
He desired, as a founder of a colony, not present profit, but a reasonable expectation; and, perceiving the evils of a common stock, he cherished enterprise by leaving each one to enjoy the results of his own industry.
But numerous difficulties prevented success in Newfoundland
: parliament had ever asserted the freedom of the fisheries,18
which his grants tended to impair; the soil and the climate proved less favorable than had been described in the glowing and deceptive pictures of his early agents; and the incessant danger of attacks from the French
who were possessed of the circumjacent continent,
spread a gloom over the future.
Twice, it is said, did Lord Baltimore, in person, visit his settlement; with ships, manned at his own charge, he repelled the French
, who were hovering round the coast with the design of annoying the English
fishermen; and, having taken sixty of them prisoners, he secured a temporary tranquillity to his countrymen and his colonists.
But, notwithstanding this success, he found all hopes of a thriving plantation in Avalon to be vain.
Why should the English
emigrate to a rugged and inhospitable island, surrounded by a hostile power, when the hardships of colonizing the milder regions of Virginia
had already been encountered, and a peaceful home might now be obtained without peril?
Lord Baltimore looked to Virginia
, of which the climate, the fertility, and the advantages, were so much extolled.
Yet, as a Papist, he could hardly expect a hospitable welcome in a colony from which the careful exclusion19
of Roman Catholics had been originally avowed as a special object, and where the statutes of the provincial legislature, as well as the commands of the sovereign, aimed at a perpetual religious uniformity.
When in Oct., 1629, he visited Virginia
in person, the zeal of the assembly immediately
ordered the oaths of allegiance and supremacy to be tendered him. It was in vain that he proposed a form which he was willing to subscribe; the government firmly insisted upon that which had been chosen by the English
statutes, and which was purposely framed in such language as no Catholic could adopt.
A letter was transmitted from the assembly to the privy council, explanatory of the dispute which had grown out
of the intolerance of European
evident that Lord Baltimore could never hope for quiet in any attempt at establishing a colony within the jurisdiction of Virginia
But the country beyond the Potomac
seemed to be as yet untenanted by any but the scattered hordes of the native tribes.
, the Dutch
, and the Swedes, were preparing to occupy the country; and a grant seemed the readiest mode of securing the soil by an English settlement.21
The canceling of the Virginia
patents had restored to the monarch the ample authority of his prerogative over the soil; he might now sever a province from the colony, to which he had at first assigned a territory so vast; and it was not difficult for Calvert
—a man of such moderation, that all parties were taken with him;22
sincere in his character, disengaged from all interests, and a favorite with the royal family—to obtain a charter for domains in that happy clime.
The conditions of the grant conformed to the wishes of the first Lord Baltimore himself, although it was finally issued for the benefit of his son.
The fundamental charter23
of the colony of Mary-
land, however it may have neglected to provide for the power of the king, was the sufficient frank pledge of the liberties of the colonist, not less than of the rights and interests of the proprietary.
The ocean, the fortieth parallel of latitude, the meridian of the western
fountain of the Potomac
, the river itself from its source
to its mouth, and a line drawn due east from Watkin's Point
to the Atlantic
,—these were the limits of the territory, which was now erected into a province, and from Henrietta Maria
, the daughter of Henry IV.
and wife of Charles I., whose restless mind, disdaining contentment in domestic happiness, aspired to every kind of power and distinction, received the name of Maryland
The country thus described was given to Lord Baltimore, his heirs and assigns, as to its absolute lord and proprietary, to be holden by the tenure of fealty only, paying a yearly rent of two Indian arrows, and a fifth of all gold
ore which might be found.
Yet the absolute authority was conceded rather with reference to the crown, than the colonists; for the charter, like his patent, which, in April, 1623, had passed the great seal for Avalon, secured to the emigrants themselves an independent share in the legislation of the province, of which the statutes were to be established with the advice and approbation of the majority of the freemen or their deputies.
Representative government was indissolubly connected with the fundamental charter; and it was especially provided, that the authority of the absolute proprietary should not extend to the life, freehold, or estate of any emigrant.
These were the features which endeared the proprietary government to the people of Maryland
; and, but for these, the patent would have been as worthless as those of the London company, of Warwick
, of Gorges
, or of Mason
It is a singular fact, that the only proprietary charters, productive of considerable emolument to their owners, were those which conceded popular liberty.
For the benefit of the
colony, the statutes restraining emigration were dis-
pensed with; and, at the appointment of the Baron
, all present and future liege people of the English
king, except such as should be expressly forbidden, might freely transport themselves and their families to Maryland
Christianity, as professed by the Church of England, was protected; but beyond this, silence left room for equality in religious rights, not less than in civil freedom, to be assured.
A monopoly of the fisheries had formerly been earnestly resisted by the commons of England
: to avoid all dispute on this point, Calvert
, in his charter, expressly renounced any similar claim.
As a Catholic, he needed to be free from the jurisdiction of his neighbor; Maryland
was carefully separated from Virginia
, nor was he obliged to obtain the royal assent to the appointments or the legislation of his province, nor even to make a communication of the results.
So far was the English
monarch from reserving any right of superintendence in the colony, he left himself without the power to take cognizance of what transpired; and, by an express stipulation, covenanted, that neither he, nor his heirs, nor his successors, should ever, at any time thereafter, set any imposition, custom, or tax, whatsoever, upon the inhabitants of the province.
Thus was conferred on Maryland
an exemption from English taxation forever.
Sir George Calvert
was a man of sagacity, and an observing statesman.
He had beheld the arbitrary administration of the colonies; and, against any danger of future oppression, he provided the strongest defence which the promise of a monarch could afford.
Some other rights were conferred on the proprietary — the advowson
of churches; the power of creating manors and
courts baron, and of establishing a colonial aristocracy on the system of sub-infeudation.
But these things were practically of little moment.
Even in Europe
, feudal institutions appeared like the decrepitude of age amidst the vigor and enterprise of a new and more peaceful civilization, they could not be perpetuated in the lands of their origin; far less could they renew their youth in America
Sooner might the oldest oaks in Windsor
forest be transplanted across the Atlantic
, than the social forms, which Europe
itself was beginning to reject as antiquated and rotten.
But the seeds of popular liberty, contained in the charter, would find, in the New World, the very soil best suited to quicken them into life and fruitfulness.
deserves to be ranked among the most wise and benevolent lawgivers of all ages.
He was the first in the history of the Christian world to seek for religious security and peace by the practice of justice, and not by the exercise of power; to plan the establishment of popular institutions with the enjoyment of liberty of conscience; to advance the career of civilization by recognizing the rightful equality of all Christian sects.
The asylum of Papists was the spot, where, in a remote corner of the world, on the banks of rivers which, as yet, had hardly been explored, the mild forbearance of a proprietary adopted religious freedom as the basis of the state.
Before the patent could be finally adjusted and pass
the great seal, Sir George Calvert
leaving a name against which the breath of calumny has hardly whispered a reproach.
The petulance of his adversaries
could only taunt him with being ‘an Hispamo-
His son, Cecil Calvert
, succeeded to his honors and fortunes.
For him, the heir of his father's intentions,26
not less than of his father's fortunes, the charter of Maryland
was published and confirmed;
and he obtained the high distinction of successfully performing what the colonial companies had hardly been able to achieve.
At a vast expense, he planted a colony, which for several generations descended as a patrimony to his heirs.
regarded the severing of her territory with
apprehension, and before any colonists had embarked under the charter of Baltimore
, her commissioners had in England
remonstrated against the grant as an invasion of her commercial rights, an infringement on her domains, and a discouragement to her planters.
, Lord Baltimore found a friend,--for Strafford
had been the friend of the father,27
—and the remonstrance was in vain; the privy council sustained the
proprietary charter, and, advising the parties to an amicable adjustment of all disputes, commanded a free commerce and a good correspondence between the respective colonies.28
Nor was it long before gentlemen of birth and quality resolved to adventure their lives and a good part of their fortunes in the enterprise of planting a colony under so favorable a charter.
Lord Baltimore, who, for some unknown reason, abandoned his purpose of conducting the emigrants in person, appointed his brother to act as his lieutenant; and, on Friday, the
twenty-second of November, with a small but favoring gale, Leonard Calvert
, and about two hundred people,
most of them Roman Catholic
gentlemen and their ser-
vants, in the Ark
and the Dove
, a ship of large burden, and a pinnace, set sail for the northern bank of the Potomac
Having staid by the way in Barbadoes
and St. Christopher
, it was not till February of the follow-
ing year, that they arrived at Point Comfort, in Virginia
; where, in obedience to the express letters of King Charles, they were welcomed by Harvey
with courtesy and humanity.
also appeared, but it was as a prophet of ill omen, to terrify the company by predicting the fixed hostility of the natives.
Leaving Point Comfort, Calvert
sailed into the Po
and with the pinnace ascended the stream.
A cross was planted on an island, and the country claimed for Christ
and for England
At about fortyseven leagues above the mouth of the river, he found the village of Piscataqua
, an Indian settlement nearly opposite Mount Vernon
The chieftain of the tribe would neither bid him go nor stay; ‘he might use his own discretion.’
It did not seem safe for the English
to plant the first settlement so high up the river; Calvert
descended the stream, examining, in his barge, the creeks and estuaries nearer the Chesapeake
; he entered the river which is now called St. Mary's, and which he named St. George
's; and, about four leagues from its junction with the Potomac
, he anchored at the Indian
town of Yoacomoco.
The native inhabitants, having suffered from the superior power of the Susquehannahs, who occupied the district between the bays, had already resolved to remove into places of more security in the interior; and many of them had begun to migrate before the English
, the spot seemed convenient for a plantation; it was easy
by presents of cloth and axes, of hoes and knives, to
gain the good will of the natives, and to purchase their rights to the soil which they were preparing to abandon.
They readily gave consent that the English
should immediately occupy one half of their town, and, after the harvest, should become the exclusive tenants of the whole.
Mutual promises of friendship and peace were made; so that, upon the twenty-seventh
day of March, the Catholics took quiet possession of the little place; and religious liberty obtained a home, its only home in the wide world, at the humble village which bore the name of St. Mary's.
Three days after the landing of Calvert
, the Ark
and the Dove
anchored in the harbor.
Sir John Harvey
soon arrived on a visit; the native chiefs, also, came to welcome or to watch the emigrants, and were so well received, that they resolved to give perpetuity to their league of amity with the English
The Indian women taught the wives of the new comers to make bread of maize; the warriors of the tribe instructed the huntsmen how rich were the forests of America
in game, and joined them in the chase.
And, as the season of the year invited to the pursuits of agriculture, and the English
had come into possession of ground already subdued, they were able, at once, to possess cornfields and gardens, and prepare the wealth of successful husbandry.
, from its surplus produce, could furnish a temporary supply of food, and all kinds of domestic cattle.
No sufferings were endured; no fears of want were excited; the foundation of the colony of Maryland
was peacefully and happily laid.
Within six months, it had advanced more than Virginia
had done in as many years.
The proprietary continued with great liberality to provide every thing that was
necessary for its comfort and protection, and spared
no costs to promote its interests; expending, with the aid of his friends, upwards of forty thousand pounds sterling.
But far more memorable was the character of the Maryland
Every other country in the world had persecuting laws; through the benign administration of the government of that province, no person professing to believe in Jesus Christ
was permitted to be molested on account of religion.30
Under the munificence and superintending mildness of Baltimore
, the dreary wilderness was soon quickened with the swarming life and activity of prosperous settlements; the Roman Catholics
, who were oppressed by the laws of England
, were sure to find a peaceful asylum in the quiet harbors of the Chesapeake
; and there, too, Protestants were sheltered against Protestant intolerance.
Such were the beautiful auspices under which Maryland
started into being; its prosperity and peace seemed assured; the interests of its people and its proprietary were united; and for some years its internal peace and harmony were undisturbed by domestic faction.
Its history is the history of benevolence, gratitude, and toleration.
Every thing breathed peace but Clayborne
Dangers could only grow out of external causes, and were eventually the sad consequences of the revolution in England
Twelve months had not elapsed before the colony
, in February, 1635, was convened for legislation.
Probably all the freemen were present in a strictly popular assembly.
The laws of the session
are no longer extant; but we know, that the neces-
sity of vindicating the jurisdiction of the province against the claims of Clayborne
was deemed a subject worthy of the general deliberation and of a decisive act.31
For he had been roused, by confidence in his power, to resolve on maintaining his possessions by force of arms.
The earliest annals of Maryland
are defaced by the accounts of a bloody skirmish on one of the rivers near the Isle of Kent
Several lives were lost in the affray; but Clayborne
's men were defeated.
Lord Baltimore afterwards accused them of ‘piracy and murder,’ and, in 1638, Leonard Calvert
, taking forcible possession of Kent Island
, executed one or two persons on the charge, though at the time Clayborne
was in England
, prosecuting his claims before the king.32
When a colonial assembly was next convened, it
passed an act of attainder against Clayborne
; as if he had not only derided the powers of the proprietary, but had scattered jealousies among the Indians, and infused a spirit of disobedience into the inhabitants of Kent Island
Now that he was away, his estates were seized, and were declared forfeited to the laws, which he had contemned as invalid.33
attempted to gain a hearing for his wrongs; and, partly by strong representations, still more by the influence of Sir William Alexander
, succeeded, for a season, in procuring the favorable disposition of Charles.
But when the whole affair came to be referred to the commissioners for the plantations, it was found, that, on
received principles, the right of the king to confer the soil and the jurisdiction of Maryland
could not be
controverted; that the earlier license to traffic did not
vest in Clayborne
any rights which were valid against the charter; and therefore that the Isle of Kent
belonged absolutely to Lord Baltimore, who alone could permit plantations to be established, or commerce with the Indians to be conducted, within the limits of his territory.34
Yet the people of Maryland
were not content with vindicating the limits of their province; they were jealous of their liberties.
The charter had secured to them the right of advising and approving in legislation.
Did Lord Baltimore alone possess the right of originating laws?
The people of Maryland
rejected the code which the proprietary, as if holding the exclusive privilege of proposing statutes, had prepared for their government; and, asserting their equal rights of legislation, they, in their turn, enacted a body of laws, which they proposed for the assent of the proprietary:—so uniformly active in America
was the spirit of popular liberty.
How discreetly it was exercised, cannot now be known; for the laws, which were then enacted, were never ratified, and are therefore not to be found in the provincial records.35
In the early history of the United States
, nothing is
more remarkable than the uniform attachment of each colony to its franchises; and popular assemblies burst every where into life with a consciousness of their importance, and an immediate capacity for efficient legislation.
The first assembly of Maryland had vindicated the jurisdiction of the colony; the second had asserted its claims to original legislation; the third,
which was now convened, examined its obligations,
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
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.37
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
The constitution had not yet attained a fixed form; thus far it had been a species of democracy under a hereditary patriarch.
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
writ; while the people were to choose as many dele-
gates as ‘the freemen should think good.’
As yet there was no jealousy of power, no strife for place.
While these laws prepared a frame of government for future generations, we are reminded of the feebleness and poverty of the state, where the whole people were obliged to contribute to ‘the setting up of a watermill.’39
The restoration of the charter of the London
pany would have endangered the separate existence of Maryland
; yet we have seen Virginia
, which had ever been jealous of the division of its territory, defeat the attempt to revive the corporation.
Meantime, the legislative assembly of Maryland, in the grateful en-
joyment of happiness, seasonably guarded the tranquillity of the province against the perplexities of an ‘interim,’ by providing for the security of the government in case of the death of the Deputy Governor
Commerce also was fostered; and tobacco, the staple of the colony, subjected to inspection.
Nor was it long before the inhabitants recognized
Lord Baltimore's ‘great charge and solicitude in maintaining the government, and protecting them in their persons, rights, and liberties;’ and therefore, ‘out of desire to return some testimony of gratitude,’ they freely granted ‘such a subsidy as the young and poor estate of the colony could bear.’40 Maryland
, for all its divisions, was the abode of happiness and liberty.
Conscience was without restraint; a mild and liberal proprietary conceded every measure which the welfare of the colony required; domestic union, a happy concert between all the branches of government, an increasing
emigration, a productive commerce, a fertile
soil, which Heaven had richly favored with rivers and deep bays, united to perfect the scene of colonial felicity and contentment.
Ever intent on advancing the interests of his colony, Lord Baltimore invited the Puritans of Massachusetts
to emigrate to Maryland
, offering them lands and privileges, and ‘free liberty of religion;’ but Gibbons
, to whom he had forwarded a commission, was ‘so wholly tutored in the New England
discipline,’ that he would not advance the wishes of the Irish peer; and the people, who subsequently refused Jamaica
, were not now tempted to desert the Bay
for the Chesapeake
But secret dangers existed.
The aborigines, alarmed at the rapid increase of the Europeans, vexed at being frequently overreached by their cupidity, com-
menced hostilities; for the Indians, ignorant of the remedy of redress, always plan retaliation.
After a war of frontier aggressions, marked by no decisive events, peace was reestablished on the usual terms of submission and promises of friendship, and rendered durable by the prudent legislation of the assembly and the firm humanity of the government.
The preemption of the soil was reserved to Lord Baltimore, kidnapping an Indian made a capital offence, and the sale of arms prohibited as a felony.42
A regulation of intercourse with the natives was the surest preventive of war; the wrongs of an individual were ascribed to the nation; the injured savage, ignorant of peaceful justice, panted only for revenge; and thus the obscure villany of some humble ruffian, whom
the government would willingly punish for his out-
rages, might involve the colony in the horrors of savage warfare.
But the restless Clayborne
, urged, perhaps, by the
conviction of having been wronged, and still more by the hope of revenge, proved a far more dangerous enemy.
Now that the civil war in England
left nothing to be hoped from royal patronage, he declared for the popular party, and, with the assistance of one Ingle
, who obtained sufficient notoriety to be proclaimed a traitor to the king,43
he was able to promote a
By the very nature of the proprietary frame of government, the lord paramount could derive physical strength and resources only from his own private fortunes, or from the willing attachment of his lieges.
His power depended on a union with his people.
In times of peace, this condition was eminently favorable to the progress of liberty; the royal governors were often able, were still more often disposed, to use oppressive and exacting measures; the deputies of the proprietaries were always compelled to struggle for the assertion of the interests of their employer; they could never become successful aggressors on the liberties of the people.
Besides, the crown, always jealous of the immense powers which had been carelessly lavished on the proprietary, was usually willing to favor the people in every reasonable effort to improve their condition, or limit the authority of the intermediate sovereign.
At present, when the commotions in England
left every colony in America
almost unheeded, and Virginia
and New England
were pursuing a course of nearly independent legislation, the power of the proprietary was
almost as feeble as that of the king.
The other colo-
nies took advantage of the period to secure and advance their liberties: in Maryland
, the effect was rather to encourage the insubordination of the restless; and Clayborne
was able to excite an insurrection.
Early in 1645, the rebels were triumphant; unpre-
pared for an attack, the governor was compelled to fly, and more than a year elapsed before the assistance
of the well-disposed could enable him to resume his power and restore tranquillity.
The insurgents distinguished the period of their dominion by disorder and misrule, and most of the records were then lost or embezzled.44
Peace was confirmed by the wise clemency
of the government; the offences of the rebellion were concealed by a general amnesty;45
and the province was rescued, though not without expense,46
from the distresses and confusion which had followed a short but vindictive and successful insurrection.
The controversy between the king and the par-
liament advanced; the overthrow of the monarchy seemed about to confer unlimited power in England
upon the imbittered enemies of the Romish church
; and, as if with a foresight of impending danger, and an earnest desire to stay its approach, the Roman Catholics
, with the earnest concurrence of their governor and of the proprietary, determined to place upon their statute-book an act for the religious
freedom which had ever been sacred on their soil.
‘And whereas the enforcing of the conscience in matters of religion’—such was the sublime tenor of a part of the statute—‘hath frequently fallen out to be of dangerous consequence in those commonwealths where it
has been practised, and for the more quiet and peace-
able government of this province, and the better to preserve mutual love and amity among the inhabitants, no person within this province, professing to believe in Jesus Christ
, shall be any ways troubled, molested, or discountenanced, for his or her religion, or in the free exercise thereof.’
Thus did the early star of religious freedom appear as the harbinger of day; though, as it first gleamed above the horizon, its light was colored and obscured by the mists and exhalations of morning.
The greatest of English poets, when he represents the ground teeming with living things at the word of the Creator, paints the moment when the forms, so soon to be instinct with perfect life and beauty, are yet emerging from the inanimate earth, and when but
The tawny lion pawing to get free;
————then springs, as broke from bonds,
And rampant shakes his brinded mane.
So it was with the freedom of religion in the United States
The clause for liberty in Maryland
extended only to Christians, and was introduced by the proviso, that ‘whatsoever person shall blaspheme God, or shall deny or reproach the Holy Trinity
, or any of the three persons thereof, shall be punished with death.’47
No where in the United States
is religious opinion now deemed a proper subject for penal enactments.
The only fit punishment for error is refutation.
God needs no avenger in man. The fool-hardy levity of shallow infidelity proceeds from a morbid passion for notoriety, or the malice that finds pleasure in annoyance.
laws of society should do no more than reprove the
breach of its decorum.
Blasphemy is the crime of despair.
One hopeless sufferer commits suicide; another curses Divine Providence for the evil which is in the world, and of which he cannot solve the mystery.
The best medicine for intemperate grief is compassion; the keenest rebuke for ribaldry, contempt.
But the design of the law of Maryland
was undoubtedly to protect freedom of conscience; and, some years after it had been confirmed, the apologist of Lord Baltimore could assert, that his government, in conformity with his strict and repeated injunctions, had never given disturbance to any person in Maryland
for matter of religion;48
that the colonists enjoyed freedom of conscience, not less than freedom of person and estate, as amply as ever any people in any place of the world.49
The disfranchised friends of prelacy from Massachusetts
, and the Puritans from Virginia
, were welcomed to equal liberty of conscience and political rights in the Roman Catholic
province of Maryland
An equal union prevailed between all branches of
the government in explaining and confirming the civil liberties of the colony.
In 1642, Robert Vaughan
, in the name of the rest of the burgesses, had desired, that the house might be separated, and thus a negative secured to the representatives of the people.
Before 1649, this change had taken place; and it was confirmed by a statute.51
The dangerous prerogative of declaring martial law was also limited to the precincts of the camp and the garrison;52
and a perpetual act declared, that no tax should be levied upon the freemen
of the province, except by the vote of their dep-
uties in a general assembly. ‘The strength of the proprietary’ was confidently reposed ‘in the affections of his people.’53
Well might the freemen of Maryland place upon their records a declaration of their gratitude, ‘as a memorial to all posterities,’ and a pledge that succeeding generations would faithfully ‘remember’ the care and industry of Lord Baltimore in advancing ‘the peace and happiness of the colony.’54
But the revolutions in England
could not but affect the destinies of the colonies; and while New England
vigorously advanced their liberties under the salutary neglect, Maryland
was involved in the miseries of a disputed government.
The people were ready to display every virtue of good citizens; but doubts were raised as to the authority to which obedience was due, and the government, which had been a government of benevolence, good order, and toleration, was, by the force of circumstances, soon abandoned to the misrule of bigotry and the anarchy of a disputed sovereignty.
When the throne and the peerage had been subverted in England
, it might be questioned whether the mimic monarchy of Lord Baltimore should be permitted to continue.
When hereditary power had ceased in the mother country, might it properly exist in the colony?
It seemed uncertain, if the proprietary could maintain his position; and the scrupulous Puritans hesitated to take an unqualified oath of fealty, with which they might be unable to comply.55
Englishmen were no longer lieges of a sovereign, but members of a commonwealth; and, but
for the claims of Baltimore
enjoy the benefits of republican liberty.
Great as was the temptation to assert independence, it would not have prevailed, could the peace of the province have been maintained.
But who, it might well be asked, was the sovereign of Maryland
Her ‘beauty and extraordinary goodness’ had been to her a fatal dowry; and Maryland
was claimed by four separate aspirants.
was ever ready to revive its rights to jurisdiction beyond the Potomac
, and Clayborne
had already excited attention by his persevering opposition;57
Charles II., incensed against Lord Baltimore for his adhesion to the rebels and his toleration of schismatics, had issued a commission to Sir William Davenant
was the active deputy of Lord Baltimore; and parliament had already appointed its commissioners.
In the ordinance59
for the reduction of the rebellious
had not been included; if Charles II.
had been inconsiderately proclaimed by a temporary officer, the offence had been expiated;60
and, as assurances had been given of the fidelity of Stone
to the commonwealth, no measures against his authority were designed.61
Yet the commissioners were in-
structed to reduce “all the plantations within the Bay
of the Chesapeake
” and it must be allowed, that Clayborne
might find in the ambiguous phrase, intend-
ed perhaps, to include only the settlements of Virginia
, a sufficient warrant to stretch his authority to Maryland
The commissioners accordingly entered the province; and, after much altercation with Stone
him of his commission from Lord Baltimore,
and changing the officers of the province, they at last established a compromise.
, with three of his council, was permitted to retain the executive power till further instructions should arrive from England
The dissolution of the Long Parliament threatened
a change in the political condition of Maryland
; for, it was argued, the only authority, under which Bennett
had acted, had expired with the body from which it was derived.64
In consequence, Stone
and his friends, reinstated the rights of Lord Baltimore
in their integrity; displacing all officers of the contrary party, they introduced the old council, and declared the condition of the colony, as settled by Bennett
, to have been a state of rebellion.65
A railing proclamation to that effect was published to the Puritans in their church meeting.
The measures were rash and ill advised.
No sooner did Clayborne
and his colleague learn the new revolu-
tion, than they hastened to Maryland
; where it was immediately obvious, that they could be met by no effectual resistance.
Unable to persuade Stone
, ‘in a peaceable and loving way,’ to abandon the claims of Lord Baltimore, they yet compelled him to surrender his commission and the government into their hands.
This being done, Clayborne
appointed a board of ten commissioners, to whom the administration of Maryland
Intolerance followed upon this arrangement; for parties had necessarily become identified with religious
sects; and Maryland
itself was the prize contended
for. The Puritans, ever the friends of popular liberty, hostile to monarchy, and equally so to a hereditary proprietary, contended earnestly for every civil liberty; but had neither the gratitude to respect the rights of the government, by which they had been received and fostered, nor magnanimity to continue the toleration, to which alone they were indebted for their residence in the colony.
A new assembly, convened at Patux-
ent, acknowledged the authority of Cromwell
; but it also exasperated the whole Romish party by their wanton disfranchisement.
An act concerning religion confirmed the freedom of conscience, provided the liberty were not extended to ‘popery, prelacy,67
or licentiousness’ of opinion.
, a friend to religious toleration, and willing that the different sects, ‘like the cedar, and the myrtle, and the oil-tree, should be planted in the wilderness together,’ never approved the ungrateful decree.
He commanded the commissioners ‘not to busy themselves about religion, but to settle the civil government.’68
When the proprietary heard of these proceedings, he was indignant at the want of firmness which his lieutenant had displayed.69
The pretended assembly was esteemed ‘illegal, mutinous and usurped;’ and Lord Baltimore and his officers determined, under the powers which the charter conferred, to vindicate his supremacy.70
Towards the end of January, on the ar-
rival of a friendly ship, it was immediately noised abroad, that his patent had been confirmed by the protector; and orders began again to be issued for the entire restoration of his authority.
Papists and others71 72
were commissioned by Stone
to raise men in arms,
and the leaders of this new revolution were able to surprise and get possession of the provincial records.
They marched, also, from Patuxent
towards Anne Arundel
, the chief seat of the republicans, who insisted on naming it Providence
The inhabitants of Providence
and their partisans gathered together with the zeal that belongs to the popular party, and with the courage in which Puritans were never deficient.
Vain were proclamations, promises, and threats.
The party of Stone
was attacked and utterly discomfited; he himself, with others, was taken, and would have been put to death but for the respect and affection borne him by some among the insurgents whom he had formerly welcomed to Maryland
He was kept a prisoner during part of the administration of Cromwell
while three of the principal men of the province, sentenced to death by a council of war, were presently executed.74
A friend to Lord Baltimore, then in the province, begged of the protector no other boon than that he would ‘condescend to settle the country by declaring his determinate will.’75
And yet the same causes which led Cromwell
to neglect the internal concerns of Virginia
, compelled him to pay but little attention to the disturbances in Maryland
On the one hand, he respected the rights of property of Lord Baltimore; on the other, he protected his own political partisans, corresponded with his commissioners, and expressed no displeasure at their exercise of power.76
The right to the jurisdiction of Maryland
therefore, a disputed question.
, and the others, appointed by Clayborne
, actually possessed authority; while Lord Baltimore, with the apparent sanc-
tion of the protector, commissioned77 Josias Fendall
to appear as his lieutenant.
had, the preceding year, been engaged in exciting an insurrection, under pretence of instructions from Stone
; he now appear-
ed as an open but unsuccessful insurgent.
Little is known of his disturbance, except that it occasioned a heavy public expenditure.78
Yet the confidence of Lord Baltimore was continued
, who received anew an appointment to the government of the province.
For a season, there was a divided rule; Fendall
was acknowledged by the
Catholic party in the city of St. Mary's
; and the commissioners were sustained by the Puritans of St. Leonard's. At length, the conditions of a compromise were settled; and the government of the whole prov-
ince was surrendered to the agent of the proprietary.
Permission to retain arms; an indemnity for arrears; relief from the oath of fealty; and a confirmation of the acts and orders of the recent Puritan
assemblies;— these were the terms of the surrender, and prove the influence of the Puritans.79
was a weak and impetuous man; but I cannot find any evidence that his administration was stained by injustice.
Most of the statutes enacted during his government were thought worthy of being perpetuated.
The death of Cromwell
left the condition of England
uncertain, and might well diffuse a gloom through the counties of Maryland
years the unhappy province had been distracted by
dissensions, of which the root had consisted in the claims that Baltimore
had always asserted, and had never been able to establish.
What should now be done?
was in a less settled condition than ever.
Would the son of Cromwell
permanently hold the place of his father?
Would Charles II.
Did new revolutions await the colony?
new strifes with Virginia
, the protector, the proprietary, the king?
Wearied with long convulsions, a general assembly saw no security but in asserting the power
of the people, and constituting the government on the expression of their will.
Accordingly, just one day
before that memorable session of Virginia
, when the people of the Ancient Dominion
adopted a similar system of independent legislation, the representatives of Maryland
, convened in the house of Robert Slye
, voted themselves a lawful assembly, without dependence on any other power in the province.
The burgesses of Virginia
had assumed to themselves the election of the council; the burgesses of Maryland
refused to acknowledge the rights of the body claiming to be an upper house.
yielded to the public will; in Maryland
permitted the power of the people to be proclaimed.
The representatives of Maryland
, having thus successfully settled the government, and hoping for tranquillity after years of storms, passed an act, making it felony to disturb the order which they had established.
No authority would henceforward be recognized, except the assembly, and the king of England
The light of peace .promised to dawn upon the province.
Thus was Maryland
, like Virginia
, at the epoch of
the restoration, in full possession of liberty, based upon the practical assertion of the sovereignty of the people.
, it had so nearly completed its institutions, that, till the epoch of its final separation from England
, it hardly made any further advances towards freedom and independence.
Men love liberty, even if it be turbulent; and the colony had increased, and flourished, and grown rich, in spite of domestic dissensions.
Its population, in 1660, is variously estimated at eight thousand,81
and at twelve thousand.82
The country was dear to its inhabitants.
There they desired to spend the remnant of their lives; there they coveted to make their graves.83