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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 xxxii

INTRODUCTION
On 8 July 1776, Chase wrote a third letter to Adams in which he
supposed that Maryland had proclaimed its own independence in ad-
vance of the colonies' united statement: "We have declared the Throne
vacant, and by the Omnipotence of our Power, in the Stile of the Papal
Chair, We have absolved the people from their Allegiance-this too
before You have done it. I hope the Congress will not be offended with
our advancing before we received their Orders." His fears were un-
founded. Adams' letter of 9 July informed Chase that Congress had in
fact declared independence on 4 July. Broadsides of the document,
printed by Philadelphian John Dunlap between 4 and 5 July, began to
circulate almost immediately. By 8 July, when the Declaration of Inde-
pendence was read to the people of Philadelphia from the yard of the
Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall), Congress had com-
mitted Americans to a decisive and, in the estimation of some, a seem-
ingly impossible course.25
On 3 July 1776 Maryland's Eighth Convention called for delegates to
be elected to a constitutional convention, which would be the last of
the nine extralegal conventions, to draft a new state constitution. This
practice was pursued with varying degrees of speed by the other colo-
nies. Convention elections were to take place on 1 August. Suffrage
requirements were identical to those under the proprietary regime,
which reflected the continued conservatism of the state's entrenched
elite interests. Males above twenty-one years with freeholds of no less
than fifty acres and estates valued at E40 sterling or more were allowed
to vote for representatives in the counties and Baltimore. Annapolis
had slightly differing requirements from these. One had to be a free-
man of at least twenty-one years who owned a lot in the city, who had
property valued at E20 sterling or more, or who had been an apprentice
in the city for at least five years and a householder. Each Maryland
county would elect four delegates. The exception was Frederick, which
was allotted four from each of its three districts. Annapolis and Balti-
more were allowed two delegates each. Elections for the Ninth Con-
vention were irregular in some locales. Democratic segments of the
citizenry objected to the use of longstanding property qualifications and
voted without the sanction of judges who supervised the elections. In
some cases, restless crowds deposed duly appointed judges and selected
different ones in their stead. Members of the Convention were generally
unmoved by appeals for widening the electorate, and they rejected at-
tempts of non-qualified voters to force the issue. The early days of the
revolutionary movement in Maryland represented the state's character
well-firm and forceful, but not radical. Wars had consequences. The
colonies' decision for independence would surely result in an imperial
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