The Founding Of Maryland
Calvert's attempted settlement in Newfoundland.—The northern end of Chesapeake Bay was soon occupied by a rival tobacco colony, the proprietary province of Lord Baltimore. In 1609 George Calvert became a stockholder of the Virginia Company, and ten years later was made secretary of state by James I. His new office gave him an opportunity to begin an independent colony. In 1620 he bought the southeastern peninsula of Newfoundland from Sir William Vaughan, to whom it had previously been granted, and the following year sent out a few colonists. In 1623 the king granted him a charter for his colony, which was called Avalon. Two years later Calvert resigned the secretaryship. In spite of the fact that he had recently become a Catholic, he was raised to the Irish peerage with the title of Baron of Baltimore. In 1627 he visited Newfoundland with his family, but the inclemency of the climate convinced him of the undesirability of Avalon.
Application for land in Virginia.—In 1629 Baltimore applied for a grant in Virginia, to which colony he immediately proceeded. There he met with a cold reception and shortly departed for England, where he made every effort to obtain a charter. The Virginians opposed him strongly, but in April, 1632, his suit was successful and the grant was made. George Calvert died the same month and the charter was drawn in the name of his son Cecilius.
Settlements In Maryland, 1634.
The charter.—The province was named Maryland in honor of Henrietta Maria, the wife of Charles I. In general it extended from the fortieth parallel to the southern bank of the Potomac River, and from the meridian which crossed the source of that river to the Atlantic; but the description of boundaries was so indefinite, because of the lack of precise geographical knowledge, that many disputes soon arose over ownership of territory.
The government of Maryland was modeled upon that of the Palatinate of Durham, a feudatory on the border of Scotland in which the bishop had almost absolute powers; but the lord proprietor of Maryland was restricted by several clauses in the charter. He was given the right to ordain, make, and enact laws, provided they were approved by the freemen of the province, or by a majority of them, or by their delegates, and were not contrary to the laws of England. Baltimore was given very large judicial powers, such as the creation of courts and the pardoning of criminals. He was also given the right to make ordinances, provided they did not deprive any person of use, limb, or property. The proprietor could collect taxes, make grants of lands, and create manors, over which the lord of the manor would have the rights of a feudal baron. The proprietor was also given control of ecclesiastical matters such as the power of appointing ministers and founding churches, which were "to be dedicated and consecrated according to the Ecclesiastical Laws of our Kingdom of England." The charter did not prohibit him from permitting the establishment of other churches, an omission which Baltimore used to assist the Catholics. The proprietor's motives, however, were not entirely religious; he no doubt desired to found an asylum for people of his own faith, but he was also a keen business man and desired to increase his worldly goods.
The first settlers.—In October, 1633, Baltimore sent two small vessels, the Ark and the Dove, to Maryland. On board there were about twenty gentlemen, most of whom were Catholics, and probably two hundred laborers, the majority of whom were Protestants. Among the influential members were the governor, Leonard Calvert, the brother of Lord Baltimore, and the two councilors who were to assist him in the government. Three Jesuit priests accompanied the expedition, which arrived at the mouth of the Potomac in March, 1634. The site for a settlement was selected nine miles up St. George's River, a small stream which flows into the north side of the Potomac near its mouth, the place being named St. Mary's. The location was favorable, for it was surrounded by fields cleared by the Indians. The tribes in the neighborhood had been at war with the Susquehannas, and were glad to sell their lands and move across the Potomac.
Trouble with Virginia.—William Claiborne had been the principal opponent of George Calvert, when he attempted to obtain the charter for Maryland. In 1631 Claiborne had established a settlement on Kent Island in Chesapeake Bay, which fell within the bounds of Maryland. In 1634 Governor Calvert informed Claiborne that he would not molest the settlement, but that the owner of Kent Island must be considered as a tenant of the proprietor. Claiborne laid the matter before the Virginia council, which decided that the Maryland charter infringed upon the rights of Virginia. A miniature war followed which was ended by a decision of the king, who ruled that the Virginia charter of 1609 had become null when the crown took over the colony in 1624, and that Kent Island belonged to Maryland.
Religious, economic, and social life.—The religious life of the colony was greatly influenced by the presence of the Jesuits. Father White and his colleagues labored incessantly to convert the Protestant colonists and to establish missions among the Indians. In 1641 the Catholics made up about one-fourth of the population but included most of the influential families. The economic life of the colony developed much like that of Virginia, although unaccompanied by the great hardships of the James River settlements. Nor did the Indians prove as troublesome, although from 1639 to 1644 an expedition was sent against them each year. Tobacco cultivation became the principal occupation. The plantations developed along the rivers and the shore of the bay, for many years extending but a few miles inland. The manors usually contained from one thousand to two thousand acres, although a few contained five thousand acres or more, the lords of the manors being granted lands in proportion to the number of colonists they provided. Many of the large grants were later divided, and small proprietors increased in number. There was practically no town life, the seat of government containing only a few houses. There were few mills and no factories. Few roads were built, the water courses and the bay affording the principal means of communication.
The government.—Cecilius Calvert never visited the colony, but he appointed all the important officers, who resided in the province. The chief of these was the governor, to whom the proprietor delegated most of his powers. He was at the head of military affairs. As chancellor he was the keeper of the seal and issued patents for land, commissions for office, and other legal documents. As chief magistrate he appointed officers for the preservation of peace and the administration of justice, and had power to issue and enforce ordinances, to establish ports, fairs and markets, to remit fines, and pardon all offenses except high treason. He could summon the legislative assembly, prepare bills for its consideration, assent to the laws, and dissolve the assembly. He also acted as chief justice. Leonard Calvert occupied the position until 1647. Assisting the governor was a council. In 1636 it contained three members, but was gradually increased in size in later years. Before this body the governor brought matters of importance, such as the creation of offices, establishment of courts, granting of pardons, levying of taxes, issuing of ordinances, and military expeditions.
The legislative assembly at first was made up of all the freemen, but as the colonists took up more distant lands, a custom of giving proxies grew up. The first assembly met in 1635, but about all that is known of it is that it attempted to initiate legislation, to which the proprietor objected. The second assembly, which met in 1638, consisted of the governor and council, freemen especially summoned by the governor, freemen present of their own will, and proxies. The governor presented a code approved by the proprietor, but it was rejected by the assembly. The same year the proprietor temporarily yielded the right of initiating legislation, authorizing the governor to consent to laws enacted by the assembly until the proprietor could examine them. In 1639 the local divisions, which were called hundreds, sent representatives. This assembly fixed its own membership, which was to be composed of councilors, persons especially summoned, and burgesses elected in hundreds. The assembly sat at times as a law court, but most of the cases were brought before the governor and his councilors, who acted as associate justices, or before the local courts.
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