School Improvement in Maryland
Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic C. Conflict between Ideas and Institutions

Indicator 1. Examine the consequences of interactions among groups and cultures in Maryland

Objective a. Describe Maryland colonists' reactions to changing economic policies from England using events that led to the American Revolutionary War


In the years leading up to the American Revolution, Marylanders supported the New England colonies in their protests against England's changing economic policies while simultaneously fighting to weaken the power of the colony's proprietor. (As Proprietors, the Lords Baltimore appointed the colony's governor and other officials, collected rents and taxes, and generally had absolute authority over the colony.) In Maryland, political power was heavily concentrated in the hands of the gentry — wealthy landowners and, in urban areas, lawyers and merchants. It was these groups who were most affected by England's changing economic policies and who, consequently, led the resistance.

As the Sugar Act had very little impact on Marylanders, it roused no response. The first controversy was over the Stamp Act, which required tax stamps on all legal and commercial documents. In protest, Samuel Chase organized a group of men in Annapolis to hang and burn an effigy of the Maryland stamp collector, Zachariah Hood, and destroy his warehouse. Hood fled to New York. At a special session of the Maryland Assembly, the members delegated three men to attend the Stamp Act Congress in New York in support of the idea of "no taxation without representation." Daniel Dulany the Younger published a very influential piece against the Stamp Act. In order the prevent civil unrest, Maryland's Governor prevented the shipment of stamps from unloading in Maryland. Technically, without the stamps, all business in Maryland should have ceased. Before long, however, the newly formed Sons of Liberty had forced all county courts and government offices to open, and business was proceeding as usual even before Parliament repealed the Stamp Act. The Stamp Act protests were extraordinarily important in teaching Marylanders the usefulness of resistance and fostering the skills of the leaders of future resistance.

At the same time that Marylanders were resisting Parliament's economic policies, they also resisted the authority of the proprietor and his appointees. They protested the proprietor's power to appoint the colony's Anglican clergy and support their salaries through taxes on the colonists — even those colonists who belonged to other churches. Also, although the Townshend Acts did not impact Marylanders directly, they provoked a struggle for power between the elected representatives of the Maryland Assembly's Lower House and the Governor, appointed by the Proprietor. When the Governor directed the Lower House to ignore a letter from Massachusetts protesting the Townshend Acts and, when the delegates bristled at that, adjourned the Assembly, the delegates wrote a letter to the king in support of Massachusetts. Another power struggle between the Lower House of the Assembly and the Governor centered on tobacco inspection regulations and the attached fee schedule for payments to colonial officials and clergymen appointed by the Proprietor. The argument ended in a draw after three years of protest when the Assembly passed a bill that separated tobacco inspection laws from the fee structure, but the fee structure itself and payments to colonial officials remained intact.

The Tea Act and Port Act provoked dramatic resistance in Maryland. In October 1774, a ship called the Peggy Stewart arrived in Annapolis harbor carrying a load of tea. In the face of threats against his family and property, the ship's owner, Anthony Stewart, burned the ship. More significantly, Maryland sent delegates to the First Continental Congress and called the Maryland Convention in June 1774, an extralegal meeting of delegates from the counties that immediately began acting as the government of the colony. Committees of Observation and Committees of Correspondence in the counties publicized and enforced the measures passed by the Convention. In July 1775, the Convention formed an "Association of Freeman of Maryland" and required all Maryland males to sign an oath of loyalty to the extralegal government. The power of this new assembly was so great that the Maryland Governor made no attempt to oppose it. Interestingly, once the colonists themselves controlled government in Maryland, their rebelliousness against the king waned. In fact, Maryland delegates to the Continental Congress actually opposed independence until the last moment, when it became clear that a vote in favor of independence was inevitable.

Resources for Objective 5.C.1.a: