Calvert And Maryland
( Originally Published 1900 )
Sir George Calvert, who had been private secretary to Lord Cecil in Queen Elizabeth's reign, and also held office under King James, upon retiring was created Baron of Baltimore in Ireland, and purchased part of Newfoundland, which he called Avalon. He sent out a colony and afterwards visited Avalon; but, being discouraged by the cold climate, he abandoned the colony, and persuaded the next king, Charles I., to give him land on both sides of Chesapeake Bay north of the Potomac. Before the deed was signed, however, Baron Baltimore died, and his son, Cecilius Calvert, succeeded him and received the grant. This was one of the greatest gifts of land ever made, ex-tending northward from the Potomac River, including all Maryland, a broad strip of what is now Pennsylvania, all of Delaware, and a good deal of West Virginia. The charter made the grant a Palatinate, giving Lord Baltimore and his heirs absolute control of the country, freedom to trade with the whole world and make his own laws, or allow his colonists to do this. The price was the delivery of two Indian arrows a year, at the Castle of Windsor, and one-fifth of all the gold and silver found. This grant was dated on June 20, 1632, and the name first in-tended by Calvert for his colony was Crescentia; but in the charter it was styled Terra Marie, after Queen Henrietta Maria, or "Mary's Land." The expedition came out the following winter, leaving the Isle of Wight in November in two vessels, named the "Ark" and the "Dove," under command of Leonard Calvert, Cecil's brother, there being two hundred emigrants, nearly all Roman Catholics, like their chief, and mostly gentlemen of fortune and respectability. While the colony was Catholic, Cecil Calvert inculcated complete toleration. In his letter of instructions he wrote : " Preserve unity and peace on shipboard amongst all passengers ; and suffer no offence to be given to any of the Protestants; for this end cause all acts of the Roman Catholic religion to be done as privately as may be ;" and he also told his brother, the Governor, "to treat all Protestants with as much mildness and favor as justice would permit," this to be observed " at land as well as at sea." In March, 1633, they entered the Chesapeake and sailed up to the Potomac River, landing at an island and setting up a cross, claiming the country for Christ and for England.
The " Ark" anchored, and the smaller "Dove" was sent cruising along the shore of the Potomac above Point Lookout, "to make choice of a place probable to be healthfull and fruitfull," which might be easily fortified, and " convenient for trade both with the English and savages." The little " Dove" sailed some distance up the Potomac, examining the shore, and encountered various Indians, who were astonished when they saw the vessel, diminutive, yet so much larger than their canoes, and said they would like to see the tree from which that great canoe was hollowed out, for they knew nothing of the method of construction. The colonists talked with the Indians, having an interpreter, and Leonard Calvert asked a chief: " Shall we stay here, or shall we go back l" To this a mysterious answer was made : " You may do as you think best." Calvert did not like this, and decided to land nearer the bay, so his vessel dropped down the river again, and they finally landed on a stream where they found the Indian village of Yoacamoco. The Indians were very friendly, sold part of their village for some axes and bright cloth, gave up their best wigwams to Calvert and his colonists, and in one of these the Jesuit fathers held a solemn service, dedicating the settlement to St. Mary; and thus was founded the capital of the new Palatinate of Maryland. Under Calvert's wise rule the colony prospered, kept up friendliness with the Indians, enjoyed a lucrative trade, and, after a long struggle, ultimately managed to make Claiborne abandon the settlement on Kent Island, which be-came part of Maryland. To the northward of them was the estuary of the Patuxent River, meaning "the stream at the little falls." St. Mary's County is the peninsula between the Patuxent and the Potomac, terminating at Point Lookout, and a quiet and restful farming country to-day. Leonardstown, on the Patuxent, named after Leonard Calvert, is the county-seat; but the ancient village of St. Mary's, the original colony and capital, afterwards superseded by Annapolis, still exists, though only a few scattered bricks remain to mark the site of the old fort and town. At St. Inigoe's is the quaint colonial home of the Jesuit fathers who accompanied Calvert, and its especial pride is a- sweet-toned bell, brought out from England in 1685, which still rings the Angelus. At Kent Island scarcely a vestige remains of Claiborne's trading-post and settlement.