Lois Jones crafted this suggestion into her announcement of the 16th Annual Maryland Colonial Society Essay Contest which was entitled "A Maryland Mosaic ... the Art of Coming Together."
Colorful, rich and vibrant, the diverse origins of Maryland's many immigrants were inlaid with seams of golden opportunity, artfully fused together in a strong bond of mutual purpose.
As a State, we have drawn our strength from the very ethnic differences that could divide. Yet, we fit each piece of individual heritage into place to form a pattern of progress which is shaded by moderation, highlighted by tolerance. Our "Maryland Mosiaic" is a masterpiece of encompassing ethnic diversity transformed into a triumphant rendering of creative cooperation, understanding and forbearance.
The objective of this year's contest was to encourage the teachers and their students to explore the nature of that mosaic and to focus on an aspect of the history of the mosaic that seemed especially important.
The essay submissions were from the farthest corners of the state and reflect much of the cultural mosaic that was central to the subject of the contest.
This year's winner, Sara Peoples, is from the Tome School in North East Maryland where her teacher, Duane Wirdel, praised her enthusiasm for the topic and her diligence in pursuing her chosen theme: "The Influences of Protestantism and Catholicism on Colonial Maryland."
Sara was intrigued by the fact that two such antagonistic groups as English Catholics and English Protestants could come together in one colony and learn to live together. She recognized that the history of that attempt was not always progressive, nor was cooperation ever achieved without often bitter rancor and even, as in the battle of the Severn, armed conflict. Yet those who worked hardest for toleration ultimately prevailed. As Sara points out in her conclusion:
Because of the toleration offered by the Maryland colony it was a haven for all sorts of religious discontents,not only Catholics, but Protestants as well who lived in peace together while they were free from the influence of the English government.
Fortunately for all of us, what was true then, remains true today, although the outside influences on us have changed dramatically, and often seem much harder to avoid. Today, the words, now inscribed permanently on Cecil Calvert's memorial plaque in the Church of St. Giles in the Fields, London, ring as true, as they did in the early years that Sara studied:
Every person who repaireth thither [to Maryland], intending to become an inhabitant finds himself secure as well in the quite enjoyment of his prosperity, as of his Conscience.
Sara, we thank you for your carefully researched and well-written tribute to the Mosaic that was and still is Maryland. As of today your work is published on the World Wide Web at the Maryland State Archives web site. On behalf of the Maryland Colonial Society it is my pleasure to present you with this check as the first prize in the 1997 Maryland Colonial Society Essay Contest for your essay entitled The Influences of Protestantism and Catholicism on Colonial Maryland."
Return to Colonial Essay Contest page
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