WITH the colonization of Maryland, in 1634, a new form of government, known as the proprietary system, was introduced into America. In 1632 Charles I granted a large territory lying north of Virginia to George Calvert, Lord Baltimore. Calvert desired to open in the new world a refuge for Roman Catholics, men of his own faith who -- like the Puritans -- suffered at home from interference with the free exercise of their religion. The new province was named Maryland in honor of Charles' Catholic queen, Henrietta Maria. As Lord Proprietor, Baltimore had various powers: to enact laws, -- which, however, must agree with the laws of England and be approved by a majority of the freemen of the province; to create courts and to exercise the right of pardon; to make ordinances, provided that these did not deprive men of life, limb or property; to make manorial grants with feudal powers to the manor lords; to collect taxes, to found churches, and to appoint ministers.
From Gravesend in 1633 the Ark and the Dove set sail, bearing two Calverts "with very near twenty gentlemen of very good fashion," most of whom were Catholics, and about "three hundred laboring men well provided in all things," who were chiefly Protestants. At the Isle of Wight they took on two Jesuit Fathers, named White and Altham. By Baltimore's instructions the ships were to take the long West Indian route and avoid the Virginian coast, for Virginia was already heartily protesting against the Proprietor's patent. The voyagers should reach the mouth of the Potomac early in March, if no ill befell them on the way.
The spirit in which Lord Baltimore planted this first Catholic colony on American soil is exemplified in the rule of conduct which he gave to his Catholic colonists, a rule the wisdom and rightness of which have not grown old with time, nor have been limited in application to the behavior of one sect.
"His Lordship required his said Governor and Commissioners that in their voyage to Maryland they be very careful to preserve unity and peace amongst all the passengers on ship-board, and that they suffer no scandal nor offence to be given to any of the Protestants, whereby any just complaint may hereafter be made by them in Virginia or in England, and that, for that end, they cause all acts of Roman Catholic Religion to be done as privately as may be, and that they instruct all the Roman Catholics to be silent upon all occasions of discourse concerning matters of religion: and that the said Governor and Commissioners treat the Protestants with as much mildness and favor as justice will permit. And this to be observed at land as well as at sea." More than toleration, which is at best a negative state of mind, this rule called for the active exercise of that charity which alone neutralizes the bitter in life. It was an ideal worth laying as the moral corner-stone of a new colonial structure.