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The Great Republic by the Master Historians
The Settlement of Maryland
by Bancroft, Hubert H.


[The country near the head of Chesapeake Bay was first explored by Captain John Smith. It afterwards formed part of the grant that was made by Charles I. to Sir George Calvert, by title Lord Baltimore, a Roman Catholic nobleman. Inspired by the same feeling that had moved the Puritans, he sought to establish a refuge in America for men of his religious faith, who were persecuted in England. With this purpose he planted, in 1621, a Catholic colony in Newfoundland. But the unfavorable soil and climate, and annoyances from the hostile French, soon ended his hopes in that quarter. He next visited Virginia, but found there a religious intolerance hostile to his purposes. The territory finally granted him extended from the upper Chesapeake to the fortieth degree, the latitude of Philadelphia.

The charter given to Lord Baltimore, unlike any previously granted, secured to the emigrants equality in religious rights and civil freedom, and an independent share in the legislation of the province. The colony was formed in 1634 by two hundred emigrants, mostly Roman Catholics, who entered the Potomac and purchased of the Indians a village on the St. Mary's River, about ten miles from its junction with the Potomac. The policy of paying the Indians for their land, and their subsequent equitable treatment, inaugurated peaceful relations, though these did not remain long undisturbed. The treaty of Calvert with the Indians, though less dramatic, resembled in principle the celebrated one made many years afterwards by William Penn. Its character is clearly stated by J.T. Scharf in his excellent "History of Maryland."]

Instead of treating the aborigines as wild beasts, or savages towards whom no moral law was binding, he dealt with them as with men whose rights had a claim to respect. He raised no sophistical question whether savages could acquire or transfer any rights in the soil, or whether it was worth while to pay them any price for what they were preparing to abandon. The quantity of goods given them is not known; but the compensation was satisfactory, and there is no reason for alleging that it was not ample. The land ceded was mostly forest hunting- grounds; and the former possessors left them only to remove to others chosen in the boundless wilderness. The articles given in exchange were not trinkets and cheap gewgaws to pamper savage vanity, nor the maddening draught that has been the bane of the race, nor the arms that would render their internal wars more deadly and hasten their extermination; they were not merely of intrinsic worth, but of absolutely inestimable value to the Indian, who could procure nothing comparable to them, and was at once raised a degree in civilization by their acquisition. The possession of an axe of steel instead of his rude tool of stone multiplied his strength and efficiency a hundredfold. If the whites occupied his fields, they gave him, in improved implements, the means of raising larger crops, with less labor, in his new abode; if they restricted his hunting- grounds, they taught him to dispense with his rude garment of skin, and clothed him in the warmer fabric of the loom.

The Indians, on their side, faithfully performed their part of the contract. They shared at once their cabins with the strangers and prepared to abandon them and the cultivated fields as soon as the corn was harvested. In the mean time they mingled freely with the colonists, who employed many of their women and children in their families. From them the wives and daughters of the settlers learned the modes of preparing maize and other products of the soil. While the colonist of New England ploughed his field with his musket on his back, or was aroused from his slumber by the hideous war-whoop to find his dwelling in flames, the settlers of St. Mary's accompanied the red warrior to the chase and learned his arts of woodcraft; and the Indian coming to the settlement with wild turkeys or venison found a friendly reception and an honest market, and, if belated, wrapped himself in his mantle of skins or duffield cloth and lay down to sleep by the white man's fireside, unsuspecting and unsuspected.

Such were the happy results of the truly Christian spirit that animated the first Maryland colonists.

[Trouble with the Indians began as early as 1641, in the incursions of the Susquehannoughs, a fierce tribe, which had always been hostile to the colonists. These savages had now acquired the possession and learned the use of fire-arms. The sale of arms and ammunition to them had been made penal in the colony, but the Swedes and Dutch on the Delaware freely supplied them with these dangerous articles. There resulted a war with the Indians, which extended from 1642 to 1644. In the mean time Calvert was given great trouble by William Claiborne, a Virginian who had in 1631 establishing a trading-station on the island of Kent and one near the mouth of the Susquehanna, and who for years continued to contest the rights of the lord proprietary. He even organized a rebellion, and for a time drove the governor from the province.

Maryland has the honor of being the first country to establish the principle of religious toleration to people of all faiths. George Calvert "was the first," says Bancroft, "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 religious toleration which already existed by charter was further established by a law of the Maryland Assembly, of April 2, 1649. Rhode Island had previously passed a similar law. We quote the significant section of this important enactment.]

"And whereas the inforcing of the conscience in matters of religion hath frequently fallen out to bee of dangerous consequence in those commonwealths where it hath beene practiced, and for the more quiet and peaceable government of this province, and the better to preserve mutuall love and unity among the inhabitants here, Bee it, therefore, also by the lord proprietary, with the advice and assent of this assembly, ordained and enacted, .. that no person or persons whatsoever within this province or the islands, ports, harbours, creeks, or havens thereunto belonging, professing to believe in Jesus Christ, shall from henceforth be any waies troubled, molested, or discountenanced, for or in respect of his or her religion, nor in the free exercise thereof within this province or the islands thereunto belonging, nor any way compelled to the beliefe or exercise of any other religion against his or her consent, so as they be not unfaithfull to the lord proprietary, or molest or conspire against the civil government, estabblished or to be estabblished in this province under him or his heyres; and that all and every person or persons that shall presume contrary to this act and the true intent and meaning thereof, directly or indirectly, eyther in person or estate, wilfully to wrong, disturbe, or trouble, or molest any person or persons whatsoever within this province, professing to believe in Jesus Christ, for or in respect of his or her religion, or the free exercise thereof within this province, .. shall be compelled to pay treble damages to the party so wronged or molested, and for every such offence shall also forfeit 20s. sterling in money or the value thereof, .. or if the party so offending as aforesaid, shall refuse or bee unable to recompence the party so wronged or to satisfie such fine or forfeiture, then such offender shall be severely punished by publick whipping and imprisonment during the pleasure of the lord proprietary or his lieutenant or chiefe governour of this province for the time being, without baile or mainprise."

[The act here given also punishes with fine whoever shall denominate any person as "an Heretick, Schismatick, Idolater, Puritan, Presbyterian, Independent, Popish Priest, Jesuit, Jesuited Papist, Lutheran, Calvinist, Anabaptist, Brownist, Antinomian, Barrowist, Roundhead, Separatist, or other name or terme in a reproachful manner, relating to matters of religion," or shall blaspheme or deny any of the persons of the Holy Trinity, or speak reproachfully of the Virgin Mary, or shall break the Sabbath by drunkenness, swearing, disorderly recreation, or work except when absolutely necessary.

The enactment here described was one worthy to be printed in letters of gold, as an example of remarkable breadth of view and spirit of tolerance for the age of religious bigotry in which it was passed. Its principle was not long permitted to continue in force. During the Puritan ascendency in England the government was taken from the proprietor, and the Catholics of Maryland were disfranchised, excluded from the Assembly, and declared not entitled to the protection of the law. In January of the following year (1655), Stone, the lieutenant of Lord Baltimore, resumed his office, and a civil war ensued, which is worth describing, as the first instance of civil war in America.]

Lord Baltimore, learning the surrender of Governor Stone, and that the affairs of the province were administered by commissioners appointed by Claiborne, and his associates, in the latter part of 1654, despatched a special messenger.. with a severe rebuke to the governor for so tamely yielding his authority, and an order to him to resume it immediately.

The ship arrived in January, 1655, N. S., and Captain Stone proceeded to issue commissions to officers, and to organize an armed force in the county of St. Mary's. In a short time he found himself at the head of about one hundred and thirty men.

[With this force he recovered the records of the province, and captured a magazine of arms and ammunition from the Puritans.]

About the twentieth of March, Stone set out with his little army for Providence. He had pressed into his service eleven or twelve small vessels for the transportation of part of his forces, and part marched by land along the bay shore.. Governor Stone, with his little fleet and army, entered the outer harbor of Providence (Annapolis harbor) late in the evening of March 24..

Stone had no sooner drawn up his force in array upon the shore, than the Golden Lyon and Captain Cut's vessel opened fire upon them, killing one man, and compelling him to retire a little up the neck of land. In the mean time, Captain Fuller, at the head of one hundred and seventy men, embarked in boats, and, having gone "over the river some six miles distant from the enemy," landed, and made a circuit around the head of the creek, proposing to take Stone's force in flank and rear. On their approach the sentry fired a gun, and an engagement followed, which is thus described by Leonard Strong, one of Fuller's council, in his pamphlet, "Babylon's Fall."

"Captain Fuller, still expecting that then, at last, possibly they might give a reason of their coming, commanded his men, on pain of death, not to shoot a gun, or give the first onset; setting up the standard of the commonwealth of England, against which the enemy shot five or six guns and killed one man in the front before a shot was made by the other. Then the word was given: In the name of God, fall on; God is our strength -- that was the word for Providence: the Marylanders' word was Hey for Saint Maries. The charge was fierce and sharp for the time; but, through the glorious presence of the Lord of hosts manifested in and towards his poor oppressed people, the enemy could not endure, but gave back, and were so effectually charged home that they were all routed, turned their backs, threw down their arms, and begged mercy. After the first volley of shot, a small company of the enemy, from behind a great tree fallen, galled us, and wounded divers of our men, but were soon beaten off. Of the whole company of the Marylanders there escaped only four or five, who ran away out of the army to carry news to their confederates. Captain Stone, Colonel Price, Captain Gerrard, Captain Lewis, Captain Kendall, Captain Guither, Major Chandler, and all the rest of the councillors, officers, and soldiers of the Lord Baltimore, among whom, both commanders and souldiers, a great number being Papists, were taken, and so were all their vessels, arms, ammunition, provision; about fifty men slain and wounded. We lost only two in the field; but two died since of their wounds. God did appear wonderful in the field and in the hearts of the people; all confessing Him to be the only worker of this victory and deliverance."

Strong's pamphlet is, no doubt, strongly colored by partisanship, but, whatever the exact details, the Puritans were completely victorious.. "Two or three days after the victors condemned ten to death, and executed foure, and had executed all, had not the incessant petitioning and begging of some good women saved some, and the souldiers others; the governor himself being condemned by them, and since beg'd by the souldiers; some being saved just as they were leading out to execution."

[In 1658, on the restoration of monarchy in England, the proprietor regained his authority in Maryland. A new disturbance between Protestants and Catholics occurred in 1689, at the period of the English revolution, and Lord Baltimore was deprived of his rights by the king in 1691. Religious toleration was abolished, and the Church of England established as the state religion. After more than twenty years, the infant heir of Lord Baltimore, then a Protestant, was restored to his proprietorship, and Maryland remained a proprietary government until the Revolution.]

J. Thomas Scharf

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