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FOUNDATION OF MARYLAND .
AND THE ORIGIN OF THE
ACT CONCERNING RELIGION
April 21, 1649.
HREE theories are advanced to account for
the adoption of the principle of Religious
Liberty in the Foundation of Maryland. First. That Lord Baltimore, having acquired a principality, in order to develop it by speedy settlement, and promote his fortune, proclaimed and promised the largest liberality in grants of land and liberty of conscience to all who would emigrate to and colonize his new possessions.
" Lord Baltimore, as far as we can see, went into the task of colonization as a great English landed proprietor of the better sort administers
his estates, conscientiously, and with a due regard to the welfare of the persons on his territory, but without any special sense of responsibility towards the community."
“ Yet there can be no doubt of the fact of religious toleration in Maryland at the very outset, and there were two very good reasons for its existence. The all powerful Lord Proprietary and the principal men in Maryland were Catholics, and Catholicism was oppressed and hated in England. To oppress Catholics would have been gross folly on the part of the Protestant colonists, and to oppress Protestants would have been ruin to the proprietary. Religious toleration in Maryland must be attributed solely to the very common-place law of self interest; and that this theory is the correct one, the subsequent history of the Colony amply proves.” 2
Second. The Puritan theory that the Protestants having the numerical preponderance in the Colony in 1649, proclaimed freedom of conscience as the fundamental law of the new commonwealth, being moved thereto by a profound conviction of its justice and the example of the Puritans in England.
1 Doyle's English Colonies in America, London, 1882, p. 276.
2 Lodge's History of the English Colonies in America, New York, 1882, p. 97.
“It was in 1649 that the Maryland Act of Toleration was passed, which, however, prescribed the punishment of death for any one who denied the Trinity. Of the small legislative body which passed it, two-thirds appear to have been Protestant, the recorded numbers being sixteen and eight respectively.
“ The Colony was open to the immigration of Puritans and all Protestants, and any permanent and successful oppression by a handful of Roman Catholics was altogether impossible. But the Colonial Act seems to have been an echo of the order of the House of Commons at home, on the 27th of October, 1645, that the inhabitants of the Summer Islands, and such others as shall join themselves to them, "shall, without any molestation or trouble, have and enjoy the liberty of their consciences in matters of God's worship; and of a British ordinance of 1647.'" 1
Third. The Roman Catholic theory that Lord Baltimore, being a devout Catholic, actuated by a desire to provide a refuge for his oppressed co-religionists, founded a Catholic Colony, composed in the main of Roman Catholics, and by his own authority, with their co-operation and sympathy, and through the promptings and teach
1 Mr. Gladstone, in his “ Preface to Rome and the Newest Fashions in Religion,” p. 8,
ings of his Church, adopted and proclaimed the Law of Religious Liberty to all Christians of every creed and sect whatsoever, as the fundamental institution of the new State.
"Such was the Commonwealth founded by a Catholic, upon the broad moral law I have here laid down — that faith is an act of the will, and that to force men to profess what they do not believe is contrary to the law of God, and that to generate faith by force is morally impossible.” 1
An examination of the records of the Province of Maryland from 1635 to 1660; of those of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, which were partly given to the public in the “ Records of the English Province," edited and published in London, in 1878, by Henry Foley, S. J.; of some original manuscripts in the Records of Stoneyhurst; of the historical papers printed in “The Woodstock Letters," ? and of the latest investi
2 gations of this subject by Bancroft, Lodge and Doyle, proves that each of these theories is erroneous, and that while each contains some ingredients of truth, neither one sets forth the real causes which developed the early institutions of
1 Cardinal Manning in “ The Vatican Decrees in their bearing on Civil Allegiance," p. 88.
Clark's "Gladstone and Maryland Toleration,” p. 4. 2 See Appendix A.
Maryland. The facts and circumstances surrounding and accompanying the foundation of Maryland, demonstrate, beyond reasonable doubt, that Cecil Calvert, second Lord Baltimore, determined to devote his fortune and his life to founding a State in America, over which he and his posterity should preside, based upon the institutions of English liberty, and where all the guarantees and safeguards by which it had been secured and protected, from before Magna Charta until his time, should be enjoyed, and where they should be forever preserved. His object was not only to secure a refuge for persecuted Roman Catholics, hounded from every hundred in the three kingdoms, where they might enjoy their religion in peace, but the larger and nobler one, that a great State should grow up, where the rights, franchises and liberties of Englishmen, freedom of person, security of property, and liberty of conscience, the right to habeas corpus and trial by jury, to be taxed only by then selves, and to be unmolested in their homes and their families, should be secured and guaranteed to all its people forever.
Under the ancient institutions of England, beginning in the Germanic fatherland, developed and strengthened by generations of freemen, fortified and defended by ages of armed assertion and forcible maintainance, every man's house was