Maryland, Catholic Church in

views updated


One of the 13 original colonies and seventh to ratify the Constitution of the United States (April 28, 1788), Maryland is situated on the Atlantic seaboard, bounded on the north by Pennsylvania and Delaware, on the east by Delaware and the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Virginia and West Virginia, and on the west by West Virginia. Annapolis is its capital, and Baltimore, Cumberland, and Hagerstown are the state's chief industrial centers. Fishing predominates in the Chesapeake Bay area, and farming and mineral processing are important in the state's economy. In recent decades many high technology and other service industry companies that conduct business with the federal government have set up operations in the state in order to be close to the nation's capital.

History. The founding of the palatinate and proprietary colony of Maryland (1634), named in honor of Henrietta Maria, queen of Charles I of England, was the work of the first Lord Baltimore, George Calvert, and of his son and heir, Cecil Calvert (see calvert).

Colonial Period. In the charter signed in 1632 by the second Lord Baltimore, the proprietor was granted broad and generous powers, with provision made also for a representative form of government through an assembly of all freemen. Despite opposition from the Virginia Company and the Puritans, the expedition, under Leonard Calvert as governor, sailed from Gravesend on the Ark and the Dove with 128 persons aboard, the usual oaths being administered. Approximately 72 others joined the expedition before the vessels sailed on Nov. 22, 1633, from Cowes on the Isle of Wight. Since the oath contained material objectionable to Catholics, it is likely that many if not most of those boarding at Cowes were Catholics. Two Jesuits, Andrew white and John Altham, accompanied the expedition; White's Relatio Itineris constitutes a prime source for the early history of the colony, which was founded in March of 1634 at St. Mary's, between the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.

From the beginning Calvert insisted on religious tolerance and separation of Church and State; all Christians were welcomed to the colony, and Jews were tacitly admitted. Treaties were made with the Native Americans, and for some years relations with them remained friendly. A problem arose, however, when a large element in Virginia headed by William Claiborne, who had already established trading posts on Kent Island in Chesapeake Bay within Baltimore's jurisdiction, refused to recognize Maryland's authority. It took two expeditions (1635 and 1638) to reduce the island; but subsequently (1645), when Richard Ingle, posing as a champion of Parliament and the Protestant cause, attacked and terrorized Calvert's colonists, the governor fled for a time to Virginia. White and his Jesuit companions were seized, their property sequestered, and the priests sent in chains to England to stand trial.

After Leonard Calvert reconquered his colony, increasing numbers of Puritans from Virginia sought and obtained refuge in Maryland, settling mainly near Annapolis, then called Providence. The toleration act of 1649, entitled "An Act Concerning Religion," was designed to protect Catholics and others from the rising Puritan hostility in the colony and in England. In fact, however, it was less liberal than Baltimore's previous religious policy (see toleration acts of 1639 and 1649, maryland). By 1651 the Puritan element was strong enough to overthrow the authority of Baltimore; and until 1657 the colony, beset by turmoil and invasion, was in the hands of parliamentarians and Puritans. Help came to Cecil Calvert when Oliver cromwell began to question the acts of his adherents in Maryland and in 1657 returned the palatinate to Baltimore. When Charles, the heir of Cecil Calvert, became governor in 1660, there were about 12,000 colonists in Maryland, a total that increased to 20,000 during the next 10 years. The tobacco economy became established in the whole Chesapeake area, and there were a few iron furnaces; but the main industry was agriculture.

Under Charles, who became the proprietor in 1675 at the death of his father, the colony enjoyed an era of relative peace and prosperity until the revolution of 1688 in England. Thereafter, the proprietary government in Maryland was overthrown, and it became a royal colony, with Sir Lionel Copley as first royal governor (1691). After his arrival in 1692, the assembly abolished the practice of religious toleration and established the Anglican Church, which lasted until the revolution. In 1702 a limited toleration was granted to Dissenters and Quakers. A test act was imposed against Catholics in 1692, and an act of 1704 forbade Catholics to practice their religion. In 1715 and in 1729 laws provided that the Catholic survivor of a marriage should have any children removed from his care for the purpose of Protestant upbringing. In 1718 a severe law forbade to Catholics the franchise and the holding of governmental posts. A law in 1756 provided, among other disabilities, that any property then held by priests should be taken from them; the law provided also for double taxation on all Catholics.

Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary Years. Charles, Lord Baltimore, died on Feb. 20, 1715, at the age of 85. He was succeeded by his son, Benedict Leonard, who had renounced his faith in favor of Anglicanism. When Benedict died April 15, 1715, his son, Charles II, Lord Baltimore, became proprietor under the terms of the original charter, and Maryland ceased to be a royal colony and again became proprietary. The famous boundary dispute between the Lords Baltimore and the Penns involved prolonged litigation and was not settled until the two proprietors engaged Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, who, between 1763 and 1767, determined the line, later named after them. In the stirring times between 1763 and 1775, Maryland played the usual colonial role, repudiating the Stamp Act and passing resolves denouncing taxation without representation and claiming that the Assembly alone could tax the province. The colony took

part also in the nonimportation agreement and in the formation of committees of correspondence. Annapolis had its own tea party in October 1774, with the burning of the Peggy Stewart. During the administration of the last proprietary governor, Sir Robert Eden (176876), the famous debate took place between Daniel Dulany and Charles carroll of Carrollton over the question of officers' fees. When Carroll, a Catholic, had the better of the argument, not only was the popular side greatly strengthened but sympathy was won for the Catholic cause.

In June 1774, at the convention at Annapolis, delegates were appointed to the Continental Congress, one of whom was Charles Carroll. On June 28, 1776, the Maryland delegation was empowered to vote for independence. The first state constitution was adopted in 1776; sec. 33 of the Bill of Rights stated that all persons professing the Christian religion were equally entitled to protection of law. In the war that followed, Maryland regiments fought from Bunker Hill to Yorktown; the "Old Line State" is a fitting description of the military services of the Maryland Line during the revolution. The clashing interests of Maryland and Virginia resulted in the Mount Vernon and Annapolis meetings, which in turn resulted in the great Philadelphia Constitutional Convention (May 1787). One of the signers of this document was a third prominent carroll, daniel. Maryland ratified this document, and Charles Carroll was elected senator from Maryland. In 1791 Maryland ceded to the U.S. government its present site, the District of Columbia. During the War of 1812, the attack on Ft. McHenry in Baltimore harbor inspired Frances Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner." Between 1815 and 1860 the state expanded as a commercial and maritime entity, attracting a large and steady stream of immigrants. In turn a strong nativist sentiment developed, and in 1854 the American party elected a mayor of Baltimore (see nativism, american).

The fateful presidential election of 1860 reflected clearly the divided sentiment of Maryland, a border state. With secession Maryland's position was difficultgrowing industrial and commercial ties bound the state to the North and the Union; its large and wealthy tidewater was the home of slavery and agriculture. A Marylander, James Ryder Randall, living in New Orleans, gave the state its song, "Maryland, My Maryland," a consequence of the bloody riots in Baltimore on April 19, 1861. The former slave, renowned abolitionist, and civil rights leader, Frederick Douglass, was born in Maryland.

Harriet Tubman, the intrepid free black woman, who led hundreds of slaves to freedom, was also a native of the state. In the state constitution drawn up in 1864 provisions were made to end slavery, for increased representation for Baltimore, and for a state system of education. Since the Civil War the growth of the state has paced that of the nation, although after World War II, the state's growth exceeded that of the country. The steel industry, ship building, and aircraft manufacturing contributed heavily to the growth and expansion of the Baltimore area. The expansion of the federal government in Washington during the second half of the 20th century has precipitated rapid population growth in the neighboring Maryland counties. Combined, the Baltimore-Washington corridor is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. Improved facilities in transportation and communication have done much to weld Maryland's population and scattered areas into one.

After the Revolution the total population of Maryland was about 319,700, of whom approximately 15,000 were Catholics. The Archdiocese of Washington, erected in 1939, includes in its boundaries five Maryland counties, along with the nation's capital. The Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, erected in 1868, includes eight Maryland counties on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. The bishops of these three dioceses comprise the Maryland Catholic Conference and together they have lobbied the state government on education and social justice issues. The projected population of the state of Maryland in 2000 was 5,314,450, and it was estimated that the Catholic percentage has remained at approximately 20 percent for some time.

Education. From the foundation of Maryland, the Jesuits have been in the forefront of Catholic education in Maryland. Bishop John Carroll's designs and hopes for a college for his diocese were realized when Georgetown opened in what is now part of the District of Columbia in 1791. Four Sulpicians, including F. C. Nagot, landed in Baltimore in July 1791, and on October 3, St. Mary's Seminary opened. The Sulpicians opened St. Mary's College in 1799 as a preparatory seminary. This institution closed in 1852 to be succeeded by Loyola College. Mt. St. Mary's Seminary and College was opened in 1808. For women, the Georgetown Visitation Academy opened in what is now the District of Columbia in 1799 and St. Joseph's College, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's establishment, opened in 1808 at Emmitsburg. The Christian Brothers opened Rock Hill College, Ellicott City, in 1865. In the course of time additional educational institutions were opened by various congregations, including a college at Woodstock (1867) by the Jesuits for training their own members, Calvert Hall College (1845) and La Salle Institute in Cumberland by the Christian Brothers, and Mt. St. Joseph's College by the Xaverian Brothers. Prominent among the earlier girls' schools are the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (1873), conducted by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and Mt. St. Agnes College (1867), conducted by the Sisters of Mercy. The state currently has three Catholic colleges: Mt. St. Mary's, Loyola, and Notre Dame of Maryland, which remains a college for women. These three colleges had a total enrollment of 11,428 students at the end of the millennium.

Bibliography: r. t. conley, The Truth in Charity: A History of the Archdiocese of Washington (Signe 2001). t. w. spalding, The Premier See: A History of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, 17891989 (Baltimore 1989). p. k. guilday, The Life and Times of John Carroll: Archbishop of Baltimore, 17351815, 2 v. (New York 1927). a. m. melville, John Carroll of Baltimore (New York 1955). r. brugger et al., Maryland: A Middle Temperament, 16341980 (Baltimore 1996). r. walsh and w. l. fox, Maryland: A History, 16321974 (Baltimore 1974).

[j. j. tierney/

r. t. conley]

About this article

Maryland, Catholic Church in

Updated About content Print Article


Maryland, Catholic Church in