George Calvert, a secretary of state to James I, was forced to resign his position due to his conversion to Roman Catholicism (which was technically illegal to practice), but was given the title of the first Lord Baltimore (named after the Irish city) by the king due to his previous service. He campaigned for a charter in the mid-Atlantic region of North America in order to set up a colony for disaffected English Catholics. His charter was eventually granted, although shortly after his death, and it was instead given to his son, Cecil Calvert. Maryland's charter set up a proprietary colony under the Lord Baltimore, with the condition that he govern with the advice and assent of the freemen of the province. Maryland was not an English (or British - there was a union of crowns, but not parliaments between England and Scotland) colony (in the traditional sense of a colony), but a self-governing territory.
After landing in Maryland in 1634, in what is now St. Mary's County, the settlers soon set up their capital nearby, in what they would call St. Mary's City. The capital of Maryland moved in 1695 (1694 if you are using the Julian calendar as they did at the time) to Annapolis, but today a historic park has been set up at the location.
|State House Reconstruction|
A reconstruction of a Catholic chapel is at the site, demonstrating the importance of religion to the lives of the early settlers. The ruling Calvert family was Catholic, but the majority of early Marylanders were Protestants, including Puritans who were fleeing from religious oppression in Anglican-ruled Virginia. Maryland was more tolerant than most places at the time, but only towards trinitarian Christians. Blasphemy was a capital offense, although there are no recorded executions for it.
I was a bit surprised, but happy to see, that they actually were growing and curing tobacco, despite the fact that it is a State park. Maryland can be such a horribly "liberal" (actually authoritarian) state and many would love to tax or prohibit tobacco out of existence. Many have the rather fascist view that you are not smart enough to decide what substances you should ingest, whether that be tobacco, marijuana, or trans-fats. I almost didn't want to post pictures of the growing tobacco out of fear that some mentally challenged legislator might seek to introduce legislation requiring them to remove the tobacco from the tobacco plantation in some sort of Stalinist purge.
earmarks, or anything else that you wanted to know about 17th century farming. Around the plantation there are also lots of trails that will take you around the surrounding woods.
Parking at the location is free and there are plenty of available spaces. It closes down in the winter, but opens back up in the spring. Check the Historic St. Mary's website for details. Entry to the State park was $10. There was a nice gift shop there as well, although I didn't buy anything.