Facts About the Maryland Colony

George Calvert, 1580-1632. Lord Baltimore, founder of the Maryland colony
George Calvert, 1580-1632. Lord Baltimore, founder of the Maryland colony.

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Year Maryland Colony Was Founded

1634; Was given the charter for founding in 1632

Maryland Colony Founded By

Motivation for Founding the Maryland Colony

George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore received a charter to found a colony east of the Potomac River from King Charles I. He was a declared Roman Catholic and wished to found a colony in the New World first for economic gain and soon after as a place where Catholics could live without fear of persecution. At that time, Catholics were being discriminated against. Roman Catholics were not allowed to hold public offices. As a further sign of anti-Catholic sentiment, the Great Fire of London that would occur in 1666 was blamed on Catholics.

The new colony was named Maryland in honor of Henrietta Maria who was the queen consort of Charles I. George Calvert had previously been involved in a settlement in Newfoundland but finding the land inhospitable, hoped this new colony would be a financial success. Charles I, for his part, was to be given a share of the income that the new colony created. However, before he could settle the land, George Calvert passed away. The charter was then taken up by his son, Cecelius Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore. The first governor of the colony would be Cecelius Calvert's brother, Leonard. 

Haven for Catholics? 

The first group of about 140 settlers came in two ships, the Ark and the Dove. Interestingly, only 17 of the settlers were, in fact, Roman Catholic. The rest were protestant indentured servants. They arrived at St. Clement's Island and founded St. Mary's. They became heavily involved in the cultivation of tobacco which was their primary cash crop along with wheat and corn. 

Over the first fifteen years, the number of Protestant settlers increased and there was a fear that religious liberty would be taken away from the Catholic population. The Act of Toleration was passed in 1649 by Governor William Stone to protect those who believed in Jesus Christ. However, this was not the end of the problem as this act was repealed in 1654 when outright conflict occurred and the Puritans took control of the colony. Lord Baltimore actually lost his proprietary rights and it was some time before his family was able to regain control. Anti-Catholic actions occurred in the colony all the way until the 18th century. However, with an influx of Catholics into Baltimore, laws were once again created to help protect against religious persecution. 

Maryland and the Revolutionary War

While no major fighting occurred in Maryland during the American Revolution, its militia helped in the fight alongside the rest of the Continental Army. Baltimore was the temporary capital of the colonies while Philadelphia was threatened with attack by the British. In addition, the Maryland State House in Annapolis was where the Treaty of Paris that officially ended the war was ratified. 

Significant Events

  • Maryland was a proprietorship which means that the proprietor had executive authority.
  • Tobacco was very profitable for the colony.
  • In 1649, the Act of Toleration was passed protecting those who were Christians. 

Important People

Lord Baltimore