The Southern Colonies

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Who was Lord Baltimore?

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There were two Lords Baltimore. The first was George Calvert, who served as Secretary of State to King James I of England. Upon resigning his position, he was rewarded with the title of Baron, or Lord Baltimore. Baltimore, a devout Roman Catholic, became interested in the American colonies, quickly realizing their potential as a haven for those fleeing religious persecution. At that time, Catholics in England were subjected to a wide range of legal disabilities, and Baltimore had had to keep his family's faith under wraps in order to avoid persecution by the fiercely Protestant state.

Initially, Baltimore was awarded a plot of land in what is now Newfoundland in Canada. But it was in the territory of Northern Virginia, where he really made his mark on history. For it was here that Baltimore received a Royal Charter from King Charles I, James I's son and heir, to establish a colony. In due course, this territory would form part of the state of Maryland, named after Charles I's French queen, Henrietta Maria.

Upon the first Lord's death, the title passed on to his son, Cecil Calvert. He inherited his father's land settlement, and under his stewardship Maryland became, as the first Lord had always intended, a haven of religious tolerance. The second Lord Baltimore oversaw the passing of the Maryland Toleration Act of 1649, which mandated tolerance for all Christians who believed in the Trinity. Though falling far short of what would now be considered religious tolerance, this measure was nonetheless radical for its time and further burnished the reputation of the New World as a place where people could practice their faith in peace, free from state persecution.

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