Writing It All Down: The Art of Constitution Making for the State and the Nation, 1776-1833

Archives of Maryland Documents for the Classroom
Maryland State Archives
350 Rowe Boulevard,
Annapolis, MD 21401

The Maryland Constitution 1776
by H.H. Walker Lewis


[1] Warren-Adams Letters, I, 221, Mass. Hist. Soc.; quoted in The Spirit of Seventy-Six, Edited by Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris (N.Y., 1958), 379.

[2] 7 Md. Hist. Mag. (1912)1-27.

[3] See Aubrey C. Land, The Dulanys of Maryland (Balto., 1955, 1968).

[4] See Bernard C. Steiner, Life and Administration of Sir Robert Eden (Balto., 1898; JHU Studies, XVI, Nos. 7-8-9).

[5] The Homony Club included leading lights of both the Proprietary and Country Parties, providing a common meeting ground in which friendly discussion and humor could soften the acerbities of political differences. In his Reminiscences of an American Loyalist (Boston, 1925), the Rev. Jonathan Boucher, rector of St. Anne's, who thought Annapolis "the genteelist town in North America" (p. 65), called the Homony Club "the best club in all respects I have ever heard of, as the sole object of it was to promote innocent mirth and ingenious humor" (p. 67). Of Sir Robert Eden he said: "With all his follies and foibles, which were indeed abundant, he had such a warmth and affectionateness of heart that it was impossible not to love him" (p. 67).

[6] 32 Md. Hist Mag. (1937) 200-Ol. The "Major" was Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer.

[7] Steiner, Eden, 94-95.

[8] J. Thomas Scharf, History of Maryland (1879), II, 76.

[9] See W. Stull Holt, "Charles Carroll, Barrister: The Man," in 32 Md. Hist. Mag. (1936) 112-26. This and succeeding issues of the Magazine contain many of his letters, although none about the 1776 Constitution. His Baltimore home, "Mount Clare," is still one of the show places in the City.

[10] 31 Md. Hist. Mag. (1936) 317.

[11] A considerable amount has been written about Charles of Carrollton, especially in the present bicentennial year. The most complete biography is still Kate Mason Rowland's two volumes, The Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 1737-1832 (N.Y., 1908). The period with which we are chiefly concerned is particularly well covered in the illuminating and readable biographical sketches by Sally Mason, Ronald Hoffman and Edward C. Papenfuse in the Balto. Museum of Art Exhibition Catalogue on C.C. of C., His Family, and His Md. (Balto., 1975).

[12] For background material, see especially: Charles Albro Barker, The Background of the Revolution in Maryland (New Haven, 1940), and Philip Axtell Crowl, Maryland During and After the Revolution (Balto., 1943; JHU Studies, LXI, No. 1), which picks up more or less where Barker leaves off. Both are top-flight and readable. Other useful references include: John V. L. McMahon, An Historical View of the Government of Maryland (Balto., 1831); Elihu S. Riley, A History of the General Assembly of Maryland 1635-1904 (Balto., 1905); Elisha P. Douglass, Rebels and Democrats (Chapel Hill, 1955), the Maryland portion of which draws heavily on Crowl; and Richard Walsh, "The Era of Revolution," Chapt. II in Maryland, A History 1632-1974 (Balto., 1974).

[13] Quoted in Scharf, Maryland, II, 31.

[14] Scharf, Maryland, II, 31.

[15] Barker, Background of Revolution, 276.

[16] Barker, 283, note 62.

[17] The Rev. Thomas Bacon is best known to lawyers as one of the early compilers of the laws of the Province.

[18] For more on the Rev. Bennett Allen, see Josephine Fisher in 38 Md. Hist. Mag. (1943) 299-322, 39 Md. Hist. Mag. (1944) 49-72. Among others with whom Allen feuded were the Dulanys, and many years later he killed Lloyd Dulany in a duel in Hyde Park, London. See Land, Dulanys, 328-29.

[19] Scharf, Maryland, II, 122.

[20] Maryland Gazette (Annapolis), Aug. 6 and Sept. 10, 1772.

[21] Maryland Gazette, Dec. 31, 1772; Jan. 14, Feb. 3, 25, Mar. 4, 11, 18, 25, Apr. 1, 8, 15, 29, 1773.

[22] Maryland Gazette, Mar. 18, 1773.

[23] Maryland Gazette, Mar. 4, 1773; see also account in Scharf, Maryland, II, 172 note 1.

[24] McMahon, 393-94.

[25] Neil Strawser, "Samuel Chase and the Annapolis Paper War," 57 Md. Hist. Mag. (1962) 177, at 191. See also, Francis F. Beirne, "Sam Chase, 'Disturber'," 57 Md. Hist Mag. (1962) 78-89.

[26] Maryland Gazette, Jan. 7, Feb. 4, 18, Mar. 11, Apr. 8, May 6, June 3, July 1. There have been several publications of the combined letters, the most recent being entitled Maryland and the Empire, 1 773. The Antilon-First Citizen Letters, Peter S. Onuf, Editor (Balto., 1974).

[27] McMahon, 392.

[28] See 10 Md. Hist. Mag. (1917) 276-80.

[29] As to the Peggy Stewart affair, see 5 Md. Hist. Mag. (1910) 235-45; William Eddis, Letters from America, Aubrey C. Land, Ed. (Cambridge, Mass., 1969), 91-97; Ronald Hoffman, A Spirit of Dissension (Balto., 1973) 133-36.

[30] Barker, 369.

[31] John Archer Silver, The Provisional Government of Maryland 1774-1777 (Balto., l895; JHU Studies, XII).

[32] Eddis, Letters, 147

[33] Eddis, Letters, 164.

[34] For an excellent, detailed description of the events leading up to independence, see Herbert E. Klingelhofer, "The Cautious Revolution: Maryland and the Movement Toward Independence; 1774-1776," 60 Md. Hist. Mag. (1965) 261-313.

[35] The ten dissenters included Deye, Fitzhugh, Hammond, Ridgely, and Williams, who throughout the Convention were the leaders, and the hard core, of the opposition to the drafting Committee's program. For descriptions of their activities see Hoffman, A Spirit of Dissension, as indexed under individual names and under "Hall-Hammond Faction."

[36] The term "Flying-Camp" was applied to the militia assembled in camp for active duty, presumably to denote their purported ability to march on short notice, whenever and wherever called.

[37] See Edward S. Delaplaine, Life of Thomas Johnson (N.Y., 1927), 184.

[38] The "Militia Resolves" and the "Instructions" are quoted in full in David Curtis Skaggs, Roots of Maryland Democracy, 1753-1776 (Westport, Conn., 1973), 223-28. Professor Skaggs has also gone to great pains to assemble personal data relating to the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

[39] Md. Hist. Mag. (1962) 187; John Sanderson, Ed., Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence (Phila., 1820-27), IX, 232. Hoffman, A Spirit of Dissension, portrays Hall as a leader of the radical group, but he did not vote with them at the Convention.

[40] Skaggs, Roots of Md. Democracy, 183 note 22, says that the Barrister was subsequently elected to replace Thomas Ringgold, deceased, but did not return to the Convention before adjournment.

[41] Md. Hist. Soc. MS 206, IV, No. 360.

[42] Md. Hist. Soc. MS 206, IV, No. 361.

[43] Md. Hist. Mag. (1910) 238-43

[44] Newton D. Mereness, Maryland as a Proprietary Province (N.Y., 1901), 216. As to Rezin Hammond, see 51 Md. Hist. Mag. (1956) 212-18.

[45] Charles Carroll of Carrollton's father had this to say about the Hammonds in a Nov. 26, 1773, letter to his son: "Dear Charley, The Hammonds... are all noted for not observing their word. Had I gone to Rezin Hammond I must have entered into a long disagreeable controversy with a noisy obstinate fool not to be convinced tho quite in the wrong. . ." 15 Md. Hist. Mag. (1920) 288; see also adverse comments on Rezin Hammond in Skaggs, Roots of Md. Democracy, 120-2l.

[46] Eddis, Letters, xv-xvii, 18-19, 86.

[47] Charles Francis Stein, History of Calvert County, Maryland (Balto., 1960), 116-17.

[48] Md. Hist. Soc. MS 206, IV, No. 360.

[49] James McSherry, History of Maryland (Balto., 1849), 202.

[50] Md. Hist. Soc. MS 206, IV, No. 366a.

[51] Md. Hist. Soc. MS 206, IV, No. 366b.

[52] Gabriel Duvall (1752-1844) was later a Justice of the U.S Supreme Court.

[53] It is stated in 66 Md. Hist. Mag. (1971) 424 that the Committee performed this feat in eight days, but this resulted from using Aug. 19 as the beginning date, whereas the Committee was in fact elected on Aug. 17.

[54] George A. Hanson, Old Kent: The Eastern Shore of Maryland (Balto., 1876), 146; Rowland, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, II, 190.

[55] 31 Md. Hist. Mag. (1936) 316.

[56] Goldsborough attended the beginning of the Convention but was not recorded in any of the votes involving the Declaration of Rights or Form of Government. Searching for possible explanations, one finds that while studying law at the Middle Temple in London he married an English girl and was "never in favor of separation from England." 10 Md. Hist. Mag. (1915) 10. There is also the following reference to him at the preceding Maryland Convention in a letter from Benjamin Rumsey to B. E. Hall dated May 20, 1776: "We have had a small Fracas here 6 days ago. Mr. R. Goldsborough called Col. Lloyd a Fool for asserting in Philadelphia that the Instructions given by the last Convention were not agreeable to the people here. And to his Face he pulled Mr. Goldsborough by the Nose today..." Quoted in 60 Md. Hist. Mag (1965) 302. It is understandable that this might have dampened his enthusiasm.

[57] Md. Hist. Soc. MS 206, IV, No. 365.

[58] Md. Hist. Soc. MS 206, IV, No. 366b.

[59] For an interesting analysis of the Constitution see John C. Rainbolt, "A Note on the Maryland Declaration of Rights and Constitution of 1776," 66 Md. Hist. Mag. (1971) 420-35. Professor Rainbolt attempts to analyze the voting patterns of the Delegates on the basis of geography, economic status, democratic leanings, land ownership, slave-holdings, etc. It is the view of the present writer that this and similar analyses are wide of the mark, and that personalities and leadership qualities played a greater part in the results than sociological factors.

[60] Bernard Schwartz, The Bill of Rights: A Documentary History (N.Y, 1921), I, 276.

[61] Ibid., I, 279.

[62] For a more detailed discussion of the tax articles of the Declaration of Rights, see Lewis, 13 Md. Law Review (1953) 83-112.

[63] This clearly reflected the tax concepts expressed in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, the pertinent portion of which had been published that same year.

[64] It seems curious that the provision for removal of judges should have been included in the Declaration of Rights, rather than in the Form of Government as it is in the present Constitution.

[65] Ewing's position was later vindicated. The present (1867) Constitution uses the word "shall."

[66] The provision did not work out in practice. The results are described as follows in Allan Nevins, The American States During and After the Revolution, 1775-1789 (N.Y., 1924), 431: "But one serious effort was made to give effect to this power. After the peace, petitions began to come from certain vestries lamenting a decline in piety and morals; and the legislature early in 1785 laid a bill providing for a general church tax before the people. A huge uproar arose against the measure.. . That fall it was decisively beaten."

[67] After publication of the Committee's draft of Form of Government, a long poem appeared in the Maryland Gazette of October 24, 1776, calling it, among other things, a triple-headed monstrosity, the heads being the Legislature, the Governor, and the Council. Entitled "The Song of the Man in the Moon," it read in part:

[68] Aside from violating an individual's privacy, via voce voting made it easy for purchasers and pressure groups to be sure the voter was doing what he promised.

[69] The spirit of tolerance was not long lived. The strains of the Revolution increased the pressures for punitive action against loyalists, confiscation of property, further debasement of the currency, etc., and widened the chasm between conservatives and radicals. See Nevins, Amer. States, 1775-1789, 308-23.

[70] Letter of Oct. 20, 1776, Md. Hist. Soc. MS 206, IV, No. 368b. Only two days earlier he had written: "We began yesterday on our Plan of Government, and from the alterations that were made in it yesterday and this morning, I am satisfied we shall have a very bad government in this State." Ibid., No. 368a. But when Carroll wrote this he had additional cause for depression. He had just heard that his father was suffering from a serious leg ailment. He wrote: "I am much concerned to hear that you are indisposed ... I suppose it is the same kind of humour you was troubled with a year or two ago. The same remedies I hope will have the same effect. I send you up some rattle snakes which Mrs. Thos. Picton has sent for you ..." Whether because of or in spite of the remedy prescribed, Carroll's father survived to age 80, and then was killed by a fall.

[71] Letter of Dec. 29, 1817, to Virgil Maxcy, quoted in Rowland, Life of C.C. of C., I, 190-91.

[72] Charles A. Beard, The Enduring Feralist (N.Y., 1948), 27O-71. For many years No. 63 was attributed to Alexander Hamilton, but present scholars seem agreed that it was written by Madison.

[73] McMahon, 383-86.

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The Documents for the Classroom series of the Maryland State Archives was designed and developed by Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse and Dr. M. Mercer Neale and was prepared with the assistance of R. J. Rockefeller, Lynne MacAdam and other members of the Archives staff. MSA SC 2221-04. Publication no. 3918. 1993 Maryland State Archives.

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