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…
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…
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.
2. Ibid., 203; emphasis added.