The Founding of Maryland
About the same time as Gorges was making laws for his little kingdom of New Hampshire another English gentleman was doing much the same somewhat farther south. This was Lord Baltimore.
The first Lord Baltimore was a Yorkshire gentleman named Calvert; he was a favourite of James I, who made him a baron, and he took his title from a tiny village in Ireland.
Like so many other men of his time Lord Baltimore was interested in America, and wanted to found a colony there. First he tried to found one in Newfoundland. There he received a large grant of land which he called Avalon after the fabled land in the story of King Arthur, and he had a kind of fairy vision of the warmth and sunny delights which were to be found in his new land.
But instead of being warm and sunny he found that Newfoundland was bleak and cold, so his fairy vision shriveled and died, and be came home and asked for a grant of land on the Potomac instead. In 1632 King James gave Lord Baltimore what he asked and called the land Maryland in honour of his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria.
But before the grant was sealed “with the King’s broad seal” Lord Baltimore died. Not he, therefore, but his son, Cecilius, was the first “Lord Proprietary” of Maryland, and for his broad lands all he had to pay to King James was two Indian arrows, to be delivered at Windsor Castle every year on Tuesday in Easter week. He had also to pay one-fifth part of all the gold and silver which might be found within his borders. But no gold or silver was found in the colony, so there was nothing to pay.
Lord Baltimore did not himself go to America, but sent his brother, Leonard Calvert, as Governor. Maryland was not founded like the Puritan colonies for religious purposes, but like New Hampshire, merely for trade and profit. But in those days religion and religious strife entered into everything. So it did into the founding of Maryland.
For Lord Baltimore was a Catholic, and in England Roman Catholics in their turn, as well as dissenters, were persecuted, and Lord Baltimore hoped to found a refuge for them in his new possessions in America. So although, in the charter given by a Protestant King the Church of England was recognised as the state religion, in reality there was great religious freedom in Maryland, and for a time it was there only that Catholics found freedom in America.
But in order to secure toleration for the Catholic religion Lord Baltimore found himself obliged to tolerate all others. So men of all creeds came to settle in Maryland and find freedom.
The people of Virginia were very far from pleased when they heard of the new colony about to be planted so near them. For part of the land which had been given to Lord Baltimore they claimed as their own, and they looked upon the newcomers as intruders on their territory and resolved to maintain their rights. They did all they could to prevent the new settlers coming. Nevertheless, in spite of everything, Leonard Calvert set sail with his colonists, many of whom were well-to-do people, in two ships called the Ark and the Dove.
They had a prosperous voyage and landed in Virginia full of doubt lest the inhabitants, who were very angry at their coming, should be plotting something against them. But the letters which they carried from the King seemed to appease the anger of the Virginians for a little, and the newcomers sailed on again to their own destination in Chesapeake Bay.
So at length they reached the “wished-for country” and Calvert landed with solemn state to take possession of the land in the name of God and the King of England.
As he stepped ashore a salute was fired from the boats. Then, reverently kneeling, the colonists listened while Mass was said for the first time in English America. Mass being over, they formed a procession at the head of which a rough wooden cross was carried. Then when they reached a spot chosen beforehand they planted the cross, and, kneeling round it, chanted the Litany of the Sacred Cross with great fervour.
And thus a new colony was begun.
With the Indians Calvert made friends, for he was both just and kind to them, paying them for their land in hoes, hatchets, coloured cloths and the beads and gew-gaws they loved. So in those early days there were no Indian wars and massacres in Maryland.
But although at peace with the Native Americans, the Marylanders were not at peace with their fellow white men. For the Virginians could not forget that Lord Baltimore had taken land which they had looked upon as their own. They had done their best to hinder him coming at all. And now that he had come they did their best to drive him away again. They tried to stir up mischief between the newcomers and the Indians by telling the Indians that these newcomers were Spaniards, and enemies of the English nation. They complained to the people in power at home, and did everything they could to make Maryland an uncomfortable dwelling place for those they looked upon as interlopers.
The chief enemy of the Marylanders among the Virginians was a man named William Clayborne. Before the coming of these new colonists he had settled himself upon the Isle of Kent, which was within their bounds, and now he absolutely refused either to move or to recognise the authority of Calvert as Governor; for he claimed the Isle of Kent as part of Virginia.
Calvert on his side insisted on his rights, and as neither would give way it came at length to fighting. There was bloodshed on both sides, now one, now the other getting the upper hand. Each appealed in turn to King, Parliament, or Protector, and so for more than twenty years the quarrel went on. But when the great Cromwell came to power he took Lord Baltimore’s part, Catholic though he was. And at length in 1657, weary perhaps of the struggle, each side gave way a little and there was peace between the two colonies.
But in spite of the constant trouble with Clayborne the colony grew and prospered, for there was greater religious freedom to be found there than anywhere else either in England or America. And in the seventeenth century religion bulked more largely in an Englishman’s thoughts than almost anything else. Then in 1649 the Governor issued an Act called the Toleration Act, which has made him famous. It gave freedom to every one to follow his own religion save Jews and Unitarians, and for those days it was a wonderfully liberal and broad-minded Act. It threatened with a fine of ten shillings any one who should in scorn or reproach call any man such names as popish priest, Roundhead, heretic. It declared that no person whatsoever within the Province professing to believe in Jesus Christ should be in any way troubled or molested for his or her religion.
This was the first law of its kind ever brought into force in America, and although suspended once or twice for short periods it remained almost continuously in force for many years.
Maryland becomes a royal province, 1691 Time went on and the great estate of Maryland passed from one Lord Baltimore to another. Although founded as a refuge for Catholics there were far more Protestants than Catholics within the colony. And when William III, the Protestant King, came to the throne he deprived Baltimore of his rights, and made Maryland a royal province. The Church of England was then established, and Catholics forbidden to hold services. Thus Lord Baltimore’s dream of providing a refuge for the oppressed was at an end.
But in 1715 Benedict, the fourth Lord Baltimore, became a Protestant, and Maryland was given back to him. It remained in possession of his family until the Revolution.