Maryland Declares Independence

On July 6, 1776, the Convention of Maryland finally broke formal ties with Britain and the Calvert family that had ruled the colony since the 1630s. Maryland’s Revolutionary leaders were slow in taking this step, just as they had been slow to expel their colonial governor a week earlier, and in assenting to armed struggle against England.

The members of the Convention—the province’s self-appointed legislature, meeting without approval from their colonial rulers—enumerated their grievances against Great Britain, offering a list familiar to anyone who read the Declaration of Independence this weekend. Citing unjust taxation, subversion of justice, and coercive and vengeful acts against the colonies, with the “inexorable resolution of reducing these colonies to abject slavery,” the Convention declared

Compelled by dire necessity, either to surrender our properties, liberties and lives, into the hands of a British king and parliament, or to use such means as will most probably secure to us and our posterity those invaluable blessings,

We the delegates of Maryland, in convention assembled, do declare, that the king of Great Britain has violated his compact with this people, and that they owe no allegiance to him; we have therefore thought it just and necessary to empower our deputies in congress to join with a majority of the united colonies in declaring them free and independent states…[1]

Even then, Maryland’s hesitant leaders wished it to be known they were not eager revolutionaries:

No ambitious views, no desire of independence, induced the people of Maryland to form an union with the other colonies. To procure an exemption from parliamentary taxation, and to continue to the legislatures of these colonies the sole and exclusive right of regulating their internal polity, was our original and only motive. To maintain inviolate our liberties, and to transmit them unimpaired to posterity, was our duty and first wish; our next, to continue connected with, and dependent on Great Britain…[2]

The Convention’s resolution was published in the Maryland Gazette five days later, alongside the Declaration of Independence itself. That issue can be viewed here;  the declarations are on page 3.

Notes:
1. The Declaration of the Delegates of Maryland, published in Proceedings of the Conventions of the Province of Maryland, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 78, pps. 201-203.

2. Ibid., 203; emphasis added.

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3 Responses to Maryland Declares Independence

  1. David L. Smith says:

    Governor Eden’s departure from Maryland was more of an assisted departure rather than an expulsion. He was about to be arrest by agents from Baltimore’s Committee of security and his departure was arranged by well known and patriotic Annapolitans who desired to prevent his arrest.

    That’s my view. David L Smith, aka LtCol Tench Tilghman.

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    • That’s fair–“expulsion” may be a bit harsh. I talked about that a bit in the last post, and my impression is that while Eden’s exit had been designed to let him leave with grace, dignity, and friendship, it didn’t really end that way.

      The situation deteriorated because of the servants and the deserter who took refuge on the ship, and by the end it wasn’t just the radicals in Baltimore who were after Eden–the Convention and the Council of Safety both expressed the feeling that
      “Captn Montagu of the Fowey ship of war has broke the Truce,” and that any earlier understanding with Eden was over.

      Either way, Eden got a nicer exit than lots of other colonial officials did in other parts of America. Charles Lee complained “What poor mortals are these Maryland Council men! I hope the Congress will write a letter to the People of that Province at large advising ’em to get rid of their damn’d Government. Their aim is to continue feudal Lords to a Tyrant.”

      Thanks for the comment and for following the blog!
      Owen

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      • David L. Smith says:

        Thanks for you response and point of view. During the Bicen at the Washington Monument in Baltimore Saturday, I encountered your past colleague Michele and extended my thanks to her and you folks for the great contributions to Maryland’s historic record. I and many others are grateful. D.L. Smith

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