Calvert, Leonard

Calvert, Leonard, the first governor of Maryland, whom we may designate as the "Roger Williams" of that state, on account of the position he took on the matter of religious liberty. He was sent to America by his brother, Cecil Calvert, the proprietor of the territory embraced in what became the state of Maryland. About two hundred Roman Catholic families accompanied him. The colonists landed at Point Comfort, Va., Feb. 24, 1634. Sailing up the Potomac, they came to an island which Calvert named St. Clements, of which he took possession " in the name of the Saviour of the world and of the king of England." Pursuing his way, he came to Piscataway, on the Maryland side. Here he had an interview with an Indian chief, and subsequently with others of the aborigines, with whom treaties of friendship were made; and the settlement was commenced under auspicious circumstances. The colony began its existence, as did that of Rhode Island, with a declaration of the broadest principles of civil and religious liberty. Christianity was established without putting the state under the control of any one denomination of Christians. The new commonwealth became the asylum to which those in other parts of the country, especially New England, who endured persecution for conscience sake, fled. Governor Calvert erected a mansion at St. Mary's, for the use of himself and those who might succeed him in office. When the monarchy was overthrown in England by the execution of Charles I, and the Commonwealth was set up in its place, it was not to be expected that the Roman Catholic governor of an English province would be suffered to remain in power. Calvert was displaced and a new governor appointed in his place. He died in 1676. See Belknap, Amer. Biog. ii, 372,380; Allen, Amer. Biog. s.v. (J. C. S.)

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