Sir George Calvert, Lord Baltimore





Sir George Calvert has been alluded to as the founder of Maryland. He was a thorough courtier, and one of the most brilliant and able of the supporters of the royal prerogative. King James knighted him in 1617, and in 1619 he was commissioned one of the principal Secretaries of State. He was then thirty-seven years of age. For a few years afterward he was one of the most active of James's courtiers.

Calvert had taken great interest from early youth in the discovery and settlement of foreign countries. He was a member of the East India Company, and also of the London Company, by whom Virginia was colonized. The same year when the Mayflower came to America, he purchased a part of Newfoundland, and named his domain Avalon. He at once took vigorous measures for planting an English colony there, but failed. At about the same time his son Cecil married the beautiful Anne, daughter of the Earl of Arundel, who was a member of the Roman Catholic Church. This union brought him into more intimate relations with distinguished persons of that sect. Among them was Gondamar, the Spanish ambassador in London, and Tillieres, the French ambassador at the same court. The influence of these men soon wrought a change in Calvert's religious thoughts. He became an advocate for the Spanish match, on the floor of the House of Commons; and he inflamed the resentment of King James against that body by giving him a highly-colored account of their proceedings in the matter. Finally, in the summer of 1624, his adherence to the Church of Rome became so palpable, that he was compelled to abandon the Secretaryship. Early the following March, James gave him an Irish peerage by creating him "Baron of Baltimore in the County of Longford." Sixteen days afterward the monarch died. When his successor came to White Hall and the oath of allegiance and supremacy was offered to Lord Baltimore as one of the Privy Council, he declined to take it, and retired to Ireland bearing a cordial letter of introduction and good-will from his king to the Lord Deputy of that country.

The Roman Catholics of England were suffering much persecution at that time from the Puritans on one side, who were daily increasing in strength, and from the Churchmen on the other; and Lord Baltimore desired to provide an asylum for them in America. In the summer of 1627 he visited Avalon to inspect it in person, with a view of planting a Roman Catholic colony there. He went in a ship armed with twenty cannon, as a protection against the French. A few friends and some priests accompanied him. After remaining a few months he returned to England, and the next spring he sailed again for Newfoundland with his second wife and all his children, excepting the married ones.

The following winter was a very severe one. In the spring he sent his children home; and at the beginning of autumn, with his wife and retainers, he sailed for Virginia, arriving at Jamestown in October. When he appeared before Governor Harvey and his council, and was asked what his purpose was, he answered: "To plant and dwell." "Will you take the oath which we all have taken?" asked the governor. "I cannot with a good conscience," his lordship answered. "Then you must leave with the first ship hence to England," said Harvey. He did so, leaving his wife and retainers to winter in Virginia. He returned for them in 1630, and brought with him a patent from King Charles for a territory south of the James River, for the rigors of the climate and the barrenness of the soil of Avalon, and the menaces of the French, had determined him to abandon his domain on Newfoundland. The Virginia Company made so much opposition to his new charter that he was induced to surrender it and accept one for territory north and east of the Potomac River, and embracing the Chesapeake Bay, which he had explored.

Lord Baltimore desired to call that chartered domain Crescentia; but in deference to the king, when the charter was drawn up, the space for the name was left blank that his Majesty might fill it as he pleased. When Baltimore appeared before Charles to receive his signature to the document, the monarch asked: "What will you call the country?" His lordship referred the matter to his Majesty. "Then let us name it after the queen, said Charles. "What do you think of Mariana?" The expert courtier dissented, because that was the name of the Spanish historian who taught the heresy that "the will of the people is higher than the law of tyrants." The king, still disposed to compliment his queen, said: "Let it be Terra Maria" -Mary Land. So it was that in the charter the province was named Maryland, in honor of Queen Henrietta Mary. Before the great seal of England was affixed to the patent, Lord Baltimore died in London. His son Cecil, the successor to his estates and titles, received the charter a few months afterward, dated June 20, 1632. The territory defined in the patent extended along each side of Chesapeake Bay from the fortieth degree to the mouth of the Potomac, and westward along the line of that river.

The Maryland charter, it is said, was drawn up by the hand of the first Lord Baltimore. It was evidently copied, substantially, from the one granted by Charles to his Attorney-General, Sir Robert Heath, for "Carolina," a territory south of the Roanoke River. It gave greater democratic privileges to the settlers under it than any yet issued by monopolist or monarch. It declared that the territory was "out of the plenitude of royal power;" the people were exempted from taxation by the crown except by their own consent; and other important political privileges were secured to them. It silently allowed religious toleration. While it directed the dedication and consecration of "churches, chapels, and places of worship" in accordance with the prescriptions of the ecclesiastical laws of England, the matter of a state theology was left entirely untouched, and within the legislative power of the colonists themselves. This toleration was a wise provision. It promoted the growth of the colony when it was established, for those who were persecuted by the Puritans of New England and the Churchmen of Virginia, went thither and found a refuge and peace. The charter also provided that the proprietary should have "free, full, and absolute power to enact all laws necessary for the common good, not, however, with-out the 'advice, consent, and approbation of the freemen of the province' or their representatives convoked in general assembly." This was the first instance of any provision having been made in an American patent for securing to the citizen a share in legislation.

Armed with this charter, young Lord Baltimore set about the business of colonizing his domain, not for an asylum for his persecuted co-religionists, but chiefly for pecuniary gain. He appointed his half-brother, Leonard Calvert, governor; and on the 22d of November, 1633, that kinsman and his brother, "with very near twenty other gentlemen of very good fashion, and three hundred laboring men" (so Lord Baltimore wrote to Wentworth, after-ward Earl of Stafford), sailed from Cowes, in the Isle of Wight, in two ships, the Ark and Dove. The Calverts and the other "gentlemen" and some of the laborers were Roman Catholics, but a greater portion of the latter were Protestants, who took the oath of supremacy before leaving England. The emigrants were accompanied by two Jesuit priests, Fathers Andrew White and John Altham. They performed religious ceremonies at the point of departure, while a gentle east wind was blowing, "committing the principal parts of the ship to the protection of God especially, and of His most Holy Mother, and St. Ignatius, and all the guardian angels of Maryland."

The colonists took the tedious southern route by way of the Canaries and the West Indies. They had just escaped the perils of The Needles on the coast of the Isle of Wight, when the fear of the Turkish cruisers, then the terror of all Christian seamen, took possession of them. This fear was soon allayed by the appearance of a large English merchantman called The Dragon, well armed and bound for Angola, which would convoy them beyond the line of danger. When only two days out, they were overtaken by a furious gale. The Dragon turned back; the emigrant vessels went forward. The tempest increased when the night came on. The people of the Dove, the smaller vessel, notified the officers of the staunch Ark that in case of danger they would hang out a lighted lantern at the masthead. That signal of distress appeared at midnight for a few minutes, and then suddenly vanished. "All are lost!" thought the tenants of the Ark, and they grieved sorely. They had no doubt the Dove, with her precious freight of Christians, had gone to the bottom of the sea.

For three days the tempest swept the ocean, when suddenly the clouds gathered in fearful tumult, rain fell in torrents, and for a few minutes a dreadful hurricane threatened instant destruction to all in its path. It seemed as if "all the malicious spirits of the storm, and all the evil genii of Maryland had come forth to battle" against the good ship. Her mainsail was split from top to bottom; her rudder was unshipped, and she was left at the mercy of the winds and waves. In mortal terror the emigrants fell on their knees and prayed; and the Roman Catholics uttered vows in honor of "the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Immaculate Conception; of St. Ignatius, the patron saint of Maryland; St. Michael, and all the guardian angels of the same country." "I had betaken myself to prayer," says Father White, from whose narrative I have quoted, "when the sea was raging its worst, and (may this be to the glory of God) I had scarcely finished, when they observed that the storm was abating." After that the voyagers had delightful weather for three months, on the sea and on the land.

The Ark steered for Bonavista, one of the Cape de Verd islands, but altered her course and entered a harbor of the island of Barbadoes, on the eastern verge of the Antilles, where her people, all regarded as Roman Catholics, were coldly received, and charged extravagant prices for the provisions which they were compelled to purchase. The voyagers there learned that they had escaped a Spanish fleet lying at Bonavista, and also another peril in the port at which they had arrived. The slaves on the island had conspired to murder their masters, seize the first ship that should appear, and put to sea. The conspiracy had just been discovered, and its cruel purposes arrested. Their eyes were now greeted by the arrival there of the pinnace Dove, after a separation of six weeks. In the terrible gale she had put back while her lantern was at the masthead, and took refuge in the Scilly Isles, whence she sailed with a fair wind in search of her consort. After perilous wanderings over the waters, the Dove returned to the Ark.

The emigrants left Barbadoes after a short sojourn there, passed several islands of the Antilles, near one of which they encountered canoes full of naked and painted cannibals, and late in February they sailed in between the Capes of Virginia. They touched at Point Comfort and then went up to Jamestown, where royal letters borne by Calvert secured for them a friendly reception from Governor Harvey. Nine days they tarried pleasantly there, and then sailed for the Chesapeake and entered the broad mouth of the Potomac River. They were delighted with the great stream and the scenery on its banks, and gave to it the name of St. Gregory, in honor of the canonized Pope of that name. "Never have I beheld a larger or more beautiful river," wrote Father White. "The Thames seems a mere rivulet in comparison with it; it is not disfigured by any swamps, but has firm land on each side. Fine groves of trees appear, not choked with briers or bushes or undergrowth, but growing at intervals as if planted by the hand of man, so that you can drive a four-horse carriage, wherever you choose, through the midst of the trees. Just at the mouth of the river we saw the natives in arms. That night fires blazed throughout the whole country, and since they had never seen so large a ship, messengers were sent in all directions, who reported that a canoe, like an island, had come with as many men as there were trees in the woods."

The colonists sailed up the Potomac to the Heron Islands, and on Black-stone (which they named St. Clements) they landed at a little past the middle of March. The air was balmy, and sweet with opening spring flowers, and birds were filling the groves with rich melody. The shy natives came to them one after another, and were disarmed of all hostility by the kindness of the Britons. There, on the feast of the Annunciation (March 25th), the priests, in full canonicals, performed religious services, and administered the Lord's Supper for the first time in all that Indian region. Then the whole company followed Governor Calvert and the priests in procession, bearing a huge cross which they had fashioned from a tree, and planted the symbol of Christianity and civilization at a chosen spot. The Roman Catholics, on bended knees, recited the "Litanies of the Sacred Cross" according to the Italian ritual. On the verge of the forest shadows, as wondering spectators of the strange scene, stood groups of Indian men, women and children, clad in scanty and picturesque garments, with their emperor and his queen. He was at the head of a tribe called the Piscataways, and ruled over several small principalities, as did Powhatan, in Virginia.

Calvert proceeded at once to pay a visit of ceremony to the emperor to make a treaty of friendship and secure his influence over the surrounding tribes in favor of the colonists. In the Dove and another pinnace which they had procured at Jamestown, the governor, with Father Altham and a part of the emigrants, sailed up the river, leaving the Ark at anchor. Indians appeared here and there along the shores for a few minutes, and then disappeared in the woods, fleeing in alarm. They finally reached the village of Potomac, near Mount Vernon, whose king was a youth, and the people were ruled by his uncle as regent. Their fears were soon overcome, and Father Altham, through an interpreter from Jamestown, explained that their object in coming was to teach the Indians to lead better lives, and to live with them as brothers. The old sachem welcomed them, saying: "We will use one tables-my people shall hunt for my pale-faced brother, and all things shall be in common between us."

The colonists, pleased with this peaceful conquest, went on to Piscataway, where they found five hundred warriors ready to dispute their landing. A parley ensued which ended in the emperor's venturing on board the Dove, where he was soon satisfied that his visitors were peaceful and powerful. He readily gave them permission to settle anywhere within his empire, near him or more distant. Calvert thought it better to settle nearer the mouth of the Potomac, and returned to St. Clements. There he found the natives very friendly and familiar, and watching with marvelling eyes the building of a brigantine, of timber brought over from England. They supposed the floating vessels had been each hollowed out of a single tree, as were their own canoes, and concluded England must be a mighty country where such big trees grew. They were awed by the flash and roar of the cannon, supposing them to be lightning and thunder under the control of the visitors.

The governor now explored the Wicomico River emptying into another (which they called St. George) twelve miles upward, and anchored at an Indian village of the same name, where he and his company were hospitably entertained that night, after holding a friendly conference with the reigning sachem, who gave up his own mat to Calvert to sleep on. The interpreter explained the object of the visit. The sachem said but little, but told them to examine the country. The governor did so the next day. Pleased with the situation, the soil and the forest growth, he determined to plant his first settlement there, and make Wicomico the capital. He possessed delegated power to take possession of the country without leave or reward, in accordance with the custom of the strong mailed hand of Europeans at that time, whose creed ran-"We believe that Might makes Rights," but he believed it to be more noble and wise to be just. He believed, too, that there was more worldly profit in honor than in dishonor-that "honesty" was "the best policy," and found it so. He entered into a treaty with the sachem for the purchase of a large portion of his domain. It was concluded; and Calvert gave the Indians some English cloth, axes, hoes, rakes, knives, and some trinkets for the women of little real value, for about thirty miles of territory, including the village; and he named the domain "Augusta Carolina." The Indians gave up to the colonists, for their immediate use, one-half of their village. Their houses were of "an oblong, oval shape," with a window in the roof which admitted light and also permitted the smoke to escape from the fire built in the centre of the room. They also agreed to give to the settlers one-half of their corn-grounds, which they were then planting, reserving the residue for their own use until the harvest should be gathered, when the whole of the purchased domain was to be given up to the Britons. They mutually agreed that if an injury should be done by one party, full satisfaction should be given by the other; and there was a tacit understanding that they should be allies in war. The king regarded this as essential; indeed it was the most cogent argument in favor of his making a treaty, for he wished a powerful ally, his territory having been desolated and his subjects driven from their homes, by the powerful "Susquehanocs" of the North.

On the 27th of March, 1634, Calvert took formal possession of the territory. The vessels came from St. Clements with the remainder of the emigrants, and when they landed, a cannon was fired to commemorate their arrival at the end of their weary wanderings. They built a store-house and a small battery and planted a portion of the soil. Then the governor, on a warm day in April, proceeded with a part of the company to a chosen spot fragrant with wild-flowers, about a mile from the river, where he laid out a capital city that was dedicated, with imposing religious ceremonies, to "the Blessed Virgin Mary," and was named St. Mary's. There the settlers immediately began to build, and were aided by the really gentle Indians. While they were so engaged, they were visited by Governor Harvey, of Virginia, who came in a pinnace with some of his councillors. Governor Calvert received him on board the Ark with great ceremony, and gave a banquet there to which several of the neighboring chiefs were invited. To the king of Patuxent, reigning eastward of St. Mary's, special attention was paid, for he was a conspicuous friend of the white people. He was seated at table between the two governors, when on of his followers seeing him there, and suspecting there was some evil design against his sovereign, would have leaped overboard, swam ashore, sped to his people and aroused them to arms with possible disastrous consequences, had he not been restrained by those near him, and assured by the king that all was right. When the warrior's suspicions were allayed and he was pacified, the monarch of the Patuxent addressed the other chiefs present, saying: "I love the English so well, that if they should go about to kill me, and I had so much breath as to speak, I would command the people not to avenge my death; for I know they do no such thing, except it were through mine own fault."

These settlers seem to have been exempted from the distresses which had befallen the earlier emigrants to other colonies. The surrounding native inhabitants were friendly; they had a genial climate; general good health prevailed; they had abundance of food, and the soil yielded to moderate tillage abundant fruit. They were vested with peculiar civil privileges; were not hampered by ecclesiastical restrictions; and a year after they had established their capital at St. Mary's, a legislative assembly, composed of the whole people-a purely democratic legislature-convened there. As their numbers increased by emigration, this method of legislation was found to be inconvenient, and in 1639 a representative government was established, the people being allowed to send as many delegates as they pleased. Then was founded the republican commonwealth of Maryland. It had been founded in justice, and by the exercise of kindness toward the native inhabitants; and, but for the wickedness of ambitious men, the white people and the Indians might have lived together in perfect harmony, for the Indians were easily and powerfully impressed with a sense of gratitude for good treatment. This trait was exhibited by the king of the Piscataways, the most powerful tribe in Maryland. He was taken sick and forty conjurers tried to cure him by conjurations. He grew worse, when Father White asked and obtained permission to treat him. The priest gave him some medicine and bled him, when the king soon recovered his health. Grateful for the blessing, he begged the priest to baptize him, his queen, and their daughter, to prepare them to enter the Christian Church. In a chapel built of bark for the occasion, they and some chiefs were baptized; and in the afternoon the king and his queen were married according to Christian rites. Their daughter, as I have observed elsewhere, was sent to St. Mary's, to be educated.





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