Christian Colony of Maryland chartered June 20, 1632

Maryland colonial era mapAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

JUNE 20, 1632, King Charles I of England granted a charter for the Colony of Maryland, named for his CATHOLIC wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, stating:

“Charles, by the Grace of God, of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith…

Whereas our well beloved… subject Cecilius Calvert, Baron of Baltimore, in our Kingdom of Ireland… being animated with a laudable, and pious zeal for extending the CHRISTIAN RELIGION…

hath humbly besought leave of us that he may transport, by his own…expense, a numerous colony of the English Nation, to certain…parts of America… partly occupied by savages, having no knowledge of the Divine Being…

With the increasing worship and RELIGION OF CHRIST within said region…shall…be built…Churches, Chapels, and Places of Worship.”

Lord Baltimore Cecilius Calvert, a CATHOLIC, sent two ships, the Ark and the Dove, to settle the colony of Maryland.

He gave instructions to his brother, Leonard Calvert, the Governor of the expedition, 1634:

“To preserve peace and unity amongst all the passengers…treat the PROTESTANTS with as much mildness and favor as justice will require.”

Buying land from the Indians, they founded the St. Mary’s City, considered the birthplace of religious tolerance in the United States.

In 1649, they extended liberty to PROTESTANTS by issuing the Maryland Toleration Act, which stated:

“That no person…within this province…professing to believe in JESUS CHRIST shall…from henceforth be any ways troubled or molested…in respect of his or her religion.”

When the neighboring colony of Virginia drove out anyone who was not an ANGLICAN, settlers who were PURITAN fled to Maryland because of the Maryland Toleration Act.

Meanwhile, back in England, a Civil War broke out between PURITANS and ANGLICANS.

The PURITANS won and chopped off the head of ANGLICAN King Charles I in 1649.

At this time, an ANGLICAN named John Washington emigrated to Virginia. His great-grandson was George Washington.

In Maryland, PURITANS took over the colony in 1650 and passed laws against CATHOLICS, such as the Act Concerning Religion, October 20, 1654:

“That such as profess Faith in GOD by JESUS CHRIST, though differing in Judgment from from the Doctrine, Worship or Discipline…should not be restrained but protected in the Profession of the Faith and Exercise of their Religion…PROVIDED SUCH LIBERTY WAS NOT EXTENDED TO POPERY…

That none who profess and exercise the PAPISTIC, commonly known as the ROMAN CATHOLIC RELIGION, can be protected in this province.”

PURITANS lost control of England, and in 1658, Lord Baltimore was restored to being Maryland’s Governor.

In 1688, the last CATHOLIC King of England, James II, was driven out during “the Glorious Revolution,” and William and Mary ruled as ANGLICANS.

In Maryland, ANGLICANS took control of the colony, and CATHOLICS were again denied freedom of conscience, as stated in an Act to Prevent the Growth of Popery, September 30, 1704:

“That whatsoever POPISH Bishop, Priest or Jesuit, shall baptize any child…other than such who have POPISH Parents or shall say Mass…shall forfeit…fifty pounds Sterling…and shall also suffer six months imprisonment…

And be it further enacted…if any PAPIST…shall keep school or take upon themselves the education…or boarding of youth…such persons…shall upon conviction be transported out of this Province.”

QUAKERS, SCOTCH PRESBYTERIANS, GERMAN MORAVIANS, MENNONITES and other PROTESTANT DISSENTERS began moving into Maryland.

The wealthiest man in Maryland, Charles Carroll, Sr., sailed to France in 1752, to obtain land from CATHOLIC King Louis XV in the Louisiana Territory in order to move Maryland CATHOLICS there.

Then the Revolutionary War started and everything changed.

The different colonies in America, with their different denominations, realized they had to work together in order to defeat the ANGLICAN King George III.

Maryland, at first, resisted the Revolution, as almost every member of the ANGLICAN clergy supported King George III.

Charles Carroll, son of the wealthiest landowner in the colony, was the sole CATHOLIC to sign the Declaration of Independence. He wrote to Rev. John Stanford, October, 9, 1827:

“To obtain religious as well as civil liberty I entered jealously into the Revolution, and observing the Christian religion divided into many sects, I founded the hope that no one would be so predominant as to become the religion of the State.

That hope was thus early entertained because all of them joined in the same cause, with few exceptions of individuals.”

In 1776, Maryland’s original State Constitution generously granted religious freedom to every denomination of PROTESTANTS and CATHOLICS:

“ARTICLE 33: That, as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to him; all persons, professing the CHRISTIAN RELIGION, are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty;

wherefore no person ought by any law to be molested in his person or estate on account of his religious persuasion or profession, or for his religious practice…

yet the Legislature may, in their discretion, lay a general and equal tax for the support of the CHRISTIAN RELIGION.”

Maryland’s original Constitution continued:

“ARTICLE 55. That every person, appointed to any office… shall… take the following oath:

I…do swear, that I do not hold myself bound in allegiance to the King of Great Britain, and that I will be faithful, and bear true allegiance to the State of Maryland; and shall also subscribe a declaration of his belief in the CHRISTIAN RELIGION.”

In 1851, Maryland’s Constitution stated:

“ARTICLE 34. That no other test or qualification ought to be required…than such oath of office as may be prescribed by this Constitution…and a declaration of belief in the CHRISTIAN RELIGION; and if the party shall profess to be a JEW, the declaration shall be of his belief in a future state of rewards and punishments.”

In 1864, Maryland’s Constitution stated:

“ARTICLE 37. That no other test or qualification ought to be required…than such oath of allegiance…to this State and the United States…and a declaration of belief in the CHRISTIAN RELIGION; or in the existence of GOD, and in a future state of rewards and punishments.”

In 1867, Maryland’s Constitution stated:

“ARTICLE 37. That no religious test ought ever to be required…other than a declaration of belief in the existence of GOD.”

In 2002, Maryland’s Constitution stated:

“ARTICLE 37. That no religious test ought ever to be required…other than a declaration of belief in the existence of GOD.”

In 1835, French political writer Gustave de Beaumont, a contemporary of Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote in, Marie ou L’Esclavage aux E’tas-Unis:

“In the United States, the law is never atheistic…All of the American constitutions proclaim freedom of conscience and the liberty and equality of all the confessions…

Maryland’s Constitution also declares that all of the faiths are free, and that no one is forced to contribute to the maintenance of a particular Church.

However, it gives the legislature the right to establish a general tax…for the support of the CHRISTIAN RELIGION…Maryland Law declares that, to be admitted to public office, it is necessary to be a CHRISTIAN.”

In October of 1789, George Washington wrote to the Quakers’ yearly meeting for Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey & Delaware:

“GOVERNMENT being, among other purposes, instituted to PROTECT the persons and CONSCIENCES of men from oppression…the liberty enjoyed by the People of these States of WORSHIPING ALMIGHTY GOD agreeable to their CONSCIENCES is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights.”

George Washington wrote to the Congregation of New Church in Baltimore, Maryland, January 27, 1793:

“Every person may here WORSHIP GOD according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened Age and in this land of equal liberty it is our boast that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the laws.”


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.


If you haven’t yet, invest in one or Bill Federer’s latest books

Invite Bill Federer to speak: 1-888-USA-WORD [email protected] www.AmericanMinute.com