Why Was Maryland Founded?

The charter for the founding of Maryland was granted in 1632 to George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, by King Charles I of England, and the king's motivation was to extract a share of the region's income. George Calvert died before work on settlement had begun, leaving his son, Cecilius Calvert, to take control. Cecilius's primary motivation was to create a haven for persecuted Catholics from England.

Named for King Charles's queen consort, Henrietta Maria, Maryland was populated by its first wave of settlers in 1634. Arriving at St. Clement's Island aboard two boats, the Ark and the Dove, these early settlers were a mixture of hand-picked Protestants and Catholics.

As a result of the Catholic presence, conflict with the American Puritans was fierce. In response, a Toleration Act granting liberty and justice to anyone who believed in Christ, Catholic or Protestant, was passed in 1649 by Maryland Governor William Stone.

Puritans staged a coup in 1654, however, and Calvert lost control of Maryland altogether in 1655. Despite the state's founders having set out to create an environment of religious tolerance and co-existence, it was not until the 19th century that Catholics felt secure in the region. This shift occurred when a great number of Catholic immigrants moved to Baltimore and enacted laws to safeguard their freedom.