In the years immediately preceding the Declaration of Independence Maryland pursued much the same course as did other leading colonies in the struggle—a vessel with tea on board was even burned to the water’s edge—and yet when it came to the decisive act of declaring independence there was hesitation. As the contest against the proprietor had been nearly won, the majority of the best citizens desired the continuance of the old government and it was not until the Maryland delegates in the Continental Congress were found almost alone in holding back that their instructions not to vote for independence were rescinded. The new constitution drawn and adopted in 1776 to take the place of the charter was of an aristocratic rather than a democratic nature. Under it the property qualification for suffrage was a freehold of 50 acres or £30 current money, the property qualifications for delegates £500, for senators £1000, and for governor £5000. Four delegates were chosen from each county and two each from Baltimore and Annapolis, the same as under the proprietary government, population not being taken into account. Senators were chosen by a college of fifteen electors elected in the same manner as the delegates, and the governor by a joint ballot of the two houses of assembly. In 1802 negroes were disfranchised, and in 1810 property qualifications for suffrage and office were abolished. The system of representation that, with the rapid growth of population in the north-east sections, especially in the city of Baltimore, placed the government in the hands of a decreasing minority also began to be attacked about this time; but the fear of that minority which represented the tobacco-raising and slave-holding counties of south Maryland, with respect to the attitude of the majority toward slavery prevented any changes until 1837, when the opposition awakened by the enthusiasm over internal improvements effected the adoption of amendments which provided for the election of the governor and senators by a direct vote of the people, a slight increase in the representation of the city of Baltimore and the larger counties, and a slight decrease in that of the smaller counties. Scarcely had these amendments been carried when the serious financial straits brought on by debt incurred through the state’s promotion of internal improvements gave rise to the demand for a reduction of governmental expenses and a limitation of the power of the General Assembly to contract debts. The result was the new constitution of 1851, which fully established representation in the counties on the basis of population and further increased that of Baltimore. The constitution of 1851 was however chiefly a patchwork of compromises. So, when during the Civil War Maryland was largely under Federal control and the demand arose for the abolition of slavery by the state, another constitutional convention was called, in 1864, which framed a constitution providing that those who had given aid to the Rebellion should be disfranchised and that only those qualified for suffrage in accordance with the new document could vote on its adoption. This was too revolutionary to stand long and in 1867 it was superseded by the present constitution. In national affairs Maryland early took a stand of perhaps far-reaching consequences in refusing to sign the Articles of Confederation (which required the assent of all the states before coming into effect), after all the other states had done so (in 1779), until those states claiming territory between the Alleghany Mountains and the Mississippi and north of the Ohio—Virginia, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut—should have surrendered such claims. As those states finally yielded, the Union was strengthened by reason of a greater equality and consequently less jealousy among the original states, and the United States came into possession of the first territory in which all the states had a common interest and out of which new states were to be created. In the War of 1812 Frederick, Havre de Grace, and Frenchtown were burned by the British; but particularly noteworthy were the unsuccessful movements of the enemy by land and by sea against Baltimore, in which General Robert Ross (c. 1766-1814), the British commander of the land force, was killed before anything had been accomplished and the failure of the fleet to take Fort McHenry after a siege of a day and a night inspired the song The Star-spangled Banner, composed by Francis Scott Key who had gone under a flag of truce to secure from General Ross the release of a friend held as a prisoner by the British and during the attack was detained on his vessel within the British lines. In 1861 Maryland as a whole was opposed to secession but also opposed to coercing the seceded states. During the war that followed the west section was generally loyal to the north while the south section favoured the Confederacy and furnished many soldiers for its army; but most of the state was kept under Federal control, the writ of habeas corpus being suspended. The only battle of much importance fought on Maryland soil during the war was that of Sharpsburg or Antietam on the 16th and 17th of September 1862. As between political parties the state has usually been quite equally divided. From 1820 to 1860, however, the Whigs were in general a trifle the stronger; and from 1866 to 1895 the Democrats were triumphant; in 1895 a Republican governor was elected; in 1896 Maryland gave McKinley 32,232 votes more than it gave Bryan; and in 1904 seven Democratic electors and one Republican were chosen; and in 1908 five Democratic and three Republican.
The proprietors of Maryland were: Cecilius Calvert, second Lord Baltimore (1605[?]-1675) from 1632 to 1675; Charles Calvert, third Lord Baltimore (1629-1715) from 1675 to 1715; Benedict Leonard Calvert, fourth Lord Baltimore (1684?-1715) 1715; Charles Calvert, fifth Lord Baltimore (1699-1751) from 1715 to 1751; Frederick Calvert, sixth and last Lord Baltimore (1731-1771) from 1751 to 1771; Henry Harford, from 1771 to 1776.
|Governors of Maryland.|
|Richard Ingle (usurper)||1645|
|Edward Hill (chosen by the council)||1646|
|William Fuller and others||1654-1658|
|Charles Calvert, third Lord Baltimore||1675-1676|
|Cecilius Calvert (titular) and Jesse Wharton (real)||1676|
|Charles Calvert, third Lord Baltimore||1679-1684|
|Benedict Leonard Calvert (titular) and council (real)||1684-1688|
|William Joseph (president of the council)||1688-1689|
|Protestant Associators under John Coode||1689-1692|
|Sir Lionel Copley||1692-1693|
|Sir Edmund Andros||1693-1694|
|Thomas Tench (president of the council)||1702-1704|
|Edward Lloyd (president of the council)||1709-1714|
|Benedict Leonard Calvert||1727-1731|
|Charles Calvert, fifth Lord Baltimore||1732-1733|
|Benjamin Tasker (president of the council)||1752-1753|
|Robert Eden (nominal) and Convention and Council of Safety (real)||1774-1776|
|Thomas Sim Lee||1779-1782|
|John Eager Howard||1788-1791|
- Appointed by the commissioners of parliament.
- Died in office.