“Maryland History and Roman Catholic Claims” American Sentinel 11, 7, pp. 51, 52.

CECIL CALVERT, the second Lord Baltimore and lord proprietary of Maryland, was a Roman Catholic, and for this reason Roman Catholics take great credit to themselves for what they call “the establishment of religious liberty in Maryland.” The Monitor, of San Francisco, in its issue of Junuary [sic.] 18, says:—

We were always inclined to believe that the early history of Catholic Maryland offers at the same time the most magnanimous example of Catholic tolerance and liberality and the most ungrateful specimen of anti-Catholic bigotry. It will be remembered that when Calvert founded Maryland he threw open the colony to every sect and creed. The Puritan who fled from Virginian persecution found a welcome and secure home under the persecuted Baltimore. But when the royal house in England fell before the Covenanters the Puritans whom Calvert had sheltered turned on their host and established the reign of religious intolerance in his free colony. Baltimore reëstablished his authority and his first deed—the most glorious in our history—was to pass the famous act of religious toleration.

The fact is, as we have repeatedly shown, that the circumstances were such that Lord Baltimore could not do otherwise than to grant a good degree of religious toleration in his colony. England was at that time “Protestant” and Maryland was not settled by Roman Catholics but very largely by Protestants.

Of the landing of the first emigrants Bancroft says:—

Upon the 27th [of March, 1634], the emigrants, of whom at least three parts of four were Protestants, took quiet possession of the land which the governor had bought. 528

It is probable that the relative proportion of Catholics and Protestants in Maryland remained about the same, and though the government was in the hands of the lord proprietary, who was a Catholic, it would have been quite impossible for him, even had he desire to do so, to have denied toleration to so large a majority of his subjects.

Again Bancroft says:—

In the mixed population of Maryland, where the administration was in the hands of Catholics, and the great majority of the people were Protestants, there was no unanimity of sentiment out of which a domestic constitution could have harmoniously risen. 529

This was about the time of the conflict in England between the Parliament and Charles I., and Lord Baltimore had to look well to his rights in order to retain any authority at all. Leonard Calvert, the proprietary’s deputy, went to England in 1643 to consult with his brother, Lord Baltimore, about affairs of the colony. Claybourne was claiming Kent Island, and the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Puritans, who formed a large proportion of Lord Baltimore’s subjects, were restless under the authority of a Catholic, and were desirous of establishing Protestantism, so-called, as the religion of the colony.

In 1645, a petition was presented to the House of Lords, asking that the government of Maryland might be settled in the hands of Protestants. For some reason this petition was not acted upon, and “the politic Lord Baltimore,” says Bancroft, “had ample time to prepare his own remedies. Toappease Parliament, he removed Greene [the Roman Catholic Governor], and in August, 1648, appointed in his place Wm. Stone, a Protestant of the Church of England.” 530

It was in April of the following year that the act establishing religious toleration, was passed. Bancroft says: “To quiet and unite the colony, all the offenses of the late rebellion were effaced by a general amnesty; and, at the instance of the Catholic proprietary, the Protestant governor, Stone, and his council of six, composed equally of Catholics and Protestants, and the representatives of the people of Maryland, of whom [only] five were Catholics, at a general session of the assembly held in April, 1649, placed upon their statute books” 531 this act of toleration.

We do not deny that Lord Baltimore was a liberal minded man, or that he entertained charitable feelings toward Protestants. But even had such not been the case, his environment and the circumstances under which he received and held his charter were such that he could not well have taken any other course than that which he did take in granting to his subjects religious toleration. England was “Protestant” and the charter granted Lord Baltimore by Charles I., established in effect the Anglican Church as the church of Maryland. It gave the lord proprietary authority to found “churches and chapels, and places of worship in convenient and suitable places within the premises; and of causing the same to be dedicated and consecrated, according to the ecclesiastical laws of our kingdom of England.” 532

It will be seen at once that it was quite out of the question for Lord Baltimore to establish the Catholic religion in Maryland; he did the only thing that was possible for him to do under the circumstances to secure even toleration for those of his own faith: he established religious toleration for all who professed faith in Christ; and the fact that representative Catholics appeals to the history of Maryland, [52] in proof of the tolerant spirit of Catholicism, demonstrates the paucity of such evidence. That State seems to be the only spot of earth upon which Roman Catholics can base any plausible claim to having established religious freedom; and as we have seen, the facts of history do not bear out that claim even in this single instance. That a degree of religious toleration was established in Maryland was due not to the liberality of Rome but a combination of circumstances which Rome was not able to control.

(For a more exhaustive examination of this subject see the AMERICAN SENTINEL of Sept. 26, 1895.)

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