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Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Moore, Timothy D. (Historian); Lannér-Cusin, Johanna E.; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Reid, Jonathan M.; Flamingo, Margaret R.; Fields, David P. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Maryland (1)
(2015)

Introduction,   pp. xxi-lvi


Page xxi

Introduction
Founding the Proprietary Colony
The founding and establishment of the propriety government of
Maryland was the product of competing factors-political, commercial,
social, and religious. It was intertwined with the history of one family,
the Calverts, who were well established among the Yorkshire gentry and
whose Catholic sympathies were widely known. George Calvert had been
a favorite of the Stuart king, James I. In 1625, following a noteworthy
career in politics, including periods as clerk of the Privy Council, mem-
ber of Parliament, special emissary abroad of the king, and a principal
secretary of state, Calvert openly declared his Catholicism. This decla-
ration closed any future possibility of public office for him. Shortly
thereafter, James elevated Calvert to the Irish peerage as the baron of
Baltimore. Calvert's absence from public office afforded him an op-
portunity to pursue his interests in overseas colonization. Calvert ap-
pealed to Charles I, son of James, for a land grant.'
Calvert's appeal was honored, but he did not live to see a charter
issued. In 1632, Charles granted a proprietary charter to Cecil Calvert,
George's son and the second baron of Baltimore, making him Mary-
land's first proprietor. Maryland's charter was the first long-lasting one
of its kind to be issued among the thirteen mainland British American
colonies. Proprietorships represented a real share in the king's author-
ity. They extended unusual power. Maryland's charter, which consti-
tuted Calvert and his heirs as "the true and absolute Lords and Pro-
prietaries of the Region," might have been "the best example of a
sweeping grant of power to a proprietor." Proprietors could award land
grants, confer titles, and establish courts, which included the preroga-
tive of hearing appeals. They could also make laws and levy taxes, sub-
ject to the consent of the freemen. True lords temporal within their
own domains, the Calverts had been endowed with authority to carry
out the functions of government as they saw fit. The colony was their
fief.2
By default Maryland served as a haven for Catholics in British North
America, but the Calverts intended it primarily as a proprietary venture.
The Calverts had an interest in attracting to the colony as many pro-
ductive people as possible. Success depended on it. "Lord Baltimore
was neither a political philosopher nor a prophet," writes William War-
ren Sweet. "He was rather a practical and hardheaded investor in a
great land venture, in which his whole fortune was at stake." According
xxi


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