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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)
11 (2015)

Introduction,   pp. xxi-lvi


Page xxxi

INTRODUCTION
for securing the liberties of America." As long as Maryland's own in-
ternal governing and police powers were not jeopardized, the new in-
structions declared, the colony consented to be bound by the majority's
decision to declare independence.22
Following up on his earlier letter, Chase wrote to Adams on 5 July
1776 expressing hope that "the decisive blow is struck"-that inde-
pendence had been accomplished. The situation might have turned
out differently. Chase's signature on the Olive Branch Petition of 8 July
1775, along with those of fellow Marylanders Thomas Johnson, Mat-
thew Tilghman, William Paca, and Thomas Stone, who were then serv-
ing in Congress, and forty-four delegates from other colonies, testified
to the initial aim to repair the breach that had developed between
Britain and the American colonies. As neither side was willing to con-
cede the validity of the other's claim, such a petition was a vain attempt
at reconciliation. Less than a year after the petition, Chase's letter of
5 July claimed that "Oppression, Inhumanity and Perfidy have com-
pelled Us to it [i.e., independence]." "Blessed be Men who effect the
Work, I envy you! How shall I transmit to posterity that I gave my as-
sent?" A peaceful coexistence with Britain was hoped for, according to
Chase, but that country had lost "every Virtue" and been "corrupted
with every Vice." Britain could no longer be trusted to exercise power
over the colonies.23
On 6 July 1776, four days after the Continental Congress voted to
approve Richard Henry Lee's resolution for independence and two
days after Congress finished revising a draft of the Declaration of In-
dependence, Maryland's Eighth Provincial Convention, which met be-
tween 21 June and 6 July, adopted a declaration of independence of
its own: "The king of Great-Britain has violated his compact with this
people," the text stated, "and that they owe no allegiance to him." The
document shared certain similarities with Thomas Jefferson's more mel-
lifluous creation, like a register of the king's abuses of colonists' rights,
but the text did not approach Jefferson's high-flying prose. The docu-
ment appealed to the justice and necessity of its action. "No ambitious
views, no desire of independence, induced the people of Maryland to
form an union with the other colonies." Maryland's "original and only
motive," the document read, was "To procure an exemption from par-
liamentary taxation, and to continue to the legislatures of these colo-
nies the sole and exclusive right of regulating their internal polity."
The colony's "duty and first wish" was "To maintain inviolate our lib-
erties, and to transmit them unimpaired to posterity." Maryland's final
consideration was its historic connection to Great Britain, which was
dear to its inhabitants but not principal in their minds.24
XXXi


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