Annapolis Convention (1774–1776)

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The Annapolis Convention was an Assembly of the Counties of Maryland that functioned as the colony's revolutionary government from 1774 to 1776. After 1775, it was officially named the Assembly of Freemen.

Background[edit]

Sir Robert Eden, last colonial Governor of Maryland, who found his authority overthrown by the Annapolis Convention.

In 1774, the committees of correspondence that had sprung up throughout the colonies were being drawn to the support of Boston, as they reacted to the closing of the port and increase of the occupying military force. Massachusetts had asked for a general meeting or Continental Congress to consider joint action. To forestall any such action, the royal governor of Maryland, Robert Eden prorogued the Assembly on April 19, 1774.[citation needed] This was the last session of the colonial assembly ever held in Maryland. But, the assembly members agreed to meet in June at Annapolis after they went home to determine the wishes of the citizens in the counties they represented.

Over the next two and a half years, the Convention met nine times and operated as the state or colony level of Government for Maryland. Throughout the period, they maintained some standing Committees that continued their function between sessions.

Sessions of the Convention[edit]

1774 sessions[edit]

The first convention lasted four days, from June 22 to June 25, 1774. All sixteen counties were represented by a total of 92 members. They elected Matthew Tilghman as their chair. Within that short time, they agreed:

  • That each county should have one vote.
  • Passed resolutions supporting Boston, and ordered supplies sent to them.
  • The Convention would continue from time to time as needed.
  • A Committee of Correspondence would continue between sessions, and members were named.
  • They would support non-importation agreements if the Continental Congress called for them.
  • Elected delegates to the first Continental Congress.

Other sessions were held on November 21 – November 25, and December 8 – December 12.

1775 sessions[edit]

July 26 – August 14 and December 7, 1775 – January 28, 1776

Declaration of the Association of the Freemen of Maryland[edit]

(No 13.)
ASSOCIATION of the FREEMEN of MARYLAND
July 26, 1775.[1]

The long premeditated, and now avowed design of the British Government, to raise a revenue from the property of the colonists without their consent, on the gift, grant and disposition of the Commons of Great Britain; the arbitrary and vindictive statutes passed under color of punishing a riot, to subdue by Military force, and by famine, the Massachusetts Bay; the unlimited power assumed by parliament to alter the charter of that province, and the constitution of all the colonies, thereby destroying the essential securities of the lives, liberties and properties of the colonists; the commencement of hostilities by the ministerial forces, and the cruel prosecution of the War against the people of the Massachusetts Bay, followed by General Gage's proclamation, declaring almost the whole of the Inhabitants of the united colonies, by name or description, rebels and traitors are sufficient causes to arm a free people in defence of their liberty, and to justify resistance, no longer dictated by prudence merely, but by necessity, and leave no alternative but base submission or manly opposition to uncontroulable tyranny. The Congress chose the latter, and for the express purpose of securing and defending the united colonies, and preserving them in safety, against all attempts to carry the above-mentioned acts into execution by force of arms.

Resolved, that the said colonies be immediately put into a state of defence, and now supports, at the joint expense, an army to restrain the further violence, and repel the future attacks of a disappointed and exasperated enemy.

We therefore inhabitants of the Province of Maryland, firmly persuaded that it is necessary and justifiable to repel force by force, do approve of the opposition by Arms to the British troops, employed to enforce obedience to the late acts and statutes of the British parliament, for raising a revenue in America, and altering and changing the charter and constitution of the Massachusetts Bay, and for destroying the essential securities for the lives, liberties and properties of the subjects in the united colonies. And we do unite and associate, as one band, and firmly and solemnly engage and pledge ourselves to each other, and to America, that we will to the utmost of our power, promote and support the present opposition, carrying on, as well by Arms, as by the continental association, restraining our commerce.

And as in these times of public danger, and until a reconciliation with Great Britain, on constitutional principles is effected (an event we most ardently wish may soon take place) the energy of government may be greatly impaired, so that even zeal unrestrained, may be productive of anarchy and confusion; We do in like manner unite, associate, and solemly engage in maintenance of good order, and the public peace, to support the civil power in the due execution of the laws, so far as may be consistent with the present plan of opposition; and to defend with our utmost power all persons from every species of outrage to themselves or their property, and to prevent any punishment, from being inflicted on any offenders, other than such, as shall be adjudged by the civil magistrate, continental congress, our convention, council of safety, or committees of observation.

Mat. Tilghman
John Reeder Junr Benn Hall H. Griffith Benect Edwd Hall
Richd Barnes John Contee Th. Sprigg Wootton Ths Bond
Jereh Jordan W. Bowie Richd. Brooke Richd Dallam
Jn. A. Thomas O. Sprigg John Hanson Jr Ignatius Wheeler Jr.
W. Smallwood Jos. Beall Joseph Chapline Wm. Webb
Danl Jenifer Thos Gantt Junior Thos. Cramphin Jr John Veazey Junr
R. Hooe Walter Bowie Upton Sheredine Jno. D. Thompson
J. H. Stone David Crauford Benj. Nicholson John Cox
Will. Harrison Stephen West Wm. Buchanan Peter Lawson
S. Hanson of Sam. Tho. Sim Lee J. Toy Chase Nat. Ramsey
Jno. Dent J. Rogers John Cradock William Currer
Edwd Gantt Samuel Chase Thomas Harrison Chas Rumsey
Samuel Chew Th. Johnson Junr Darby Lux W. Ringgold Junr
Edwd Reynolds Brice B. Worthington John Moale Thos Smyth
Benj. Mackall 4th Rezin Hammond Robt Alexander Joshh Earle
Josia Beall J. Hall Chas Ridgely son of Wm Th. B. Hands
Robt. Tyler William Paca Saml. Handy Thos Ringgold
Rhos Contee Matthias Hammond Sadok Purnell J. Nicholson Jr.
Joseph Sim Chas. Carroll Wm. Morris
Turbutt Wright Chas. Carroll of Carrollton Thos Stone
Jas. Tilghman of Annapolis Ephraim Howard of Hy
Th. Wright Thomas Dorsey
Jas Hollyday Robert Goldsborough
Rd Earle Henry Hooper
Soln Wright James Murray
Jas Loyd Chamberlaine Thos Ennalls
Nic. Thomas Nath. Potter
Edwd Lloyd Will, Richardson
Peregrine Tilghman Richd Mason
Wm Hindman Joshua Clark
R. Tilghman Jun. Peter Adams
Rams Benson John Stevens
F. Baker Wm Hopper
  Henry Dickinson
  Wm Waters
  Wm Rolleston
  George Dashiell
  John Waters
  Gustavus Scott
Note by Maryland Historical Society[edit]

The original engagement of the Associators, preserved under glass at Annapolis, consists of two pieces, apparently torn apart, and pasted down on card-board. On our p. 67 the order of names and arrangement of columns have been preserved, though not the spacing; and the division of the pieces falls just below the names of Joseph Sim, Thomas Dorsey, and Charles Ridgely.

On comparing these signatures with the Journal, 29 names will be found to be missing, viz: Philip Richard Fendall I (1734–1805) of Charles Co.; Alexander Somerville of Calvert; George Lee and Dr Richard Brooke of Prince George's; Thomas Tillard and John Dorsey of Anne Arundel; Walter Tolly, James Gittings, and Charles Ridgely of John, of Baltimore; Charles Beatty, Baker Johnson, Jacob Funk, Samuel Beall, and Wm. Deakins, Jr., of Frederick; Samuel Durham, Saml. Ashmead, John Beall Howard, Francis Holland, Benjamin Rumsey, and James McComas, of Harford; Joseph Gilpin and William Rumsey, of Cecil; Richard Lloyd of Kent; John Wallace and John Brown, of Queen Anne's; Robert Harrison of Dorchester; Benson Stainton of Caroline; Josiah Polk of Somerset; Peter Chaille of Worcester.

Now when we note that amongst these 29 were some of the most active and assiduous members of the Convention, and that 21 of them had, as the Journal shows, no leave of absence, it is impossible to resist the conclusion that a portion of the document has been lost. It will be observed that the arrangement is generally by counties, and the break in the paper comes between Prince George's and Queen Anne's, between Ann Arundel and Dorchester, and between Baltimore and Worchester; a fact which confirms the editor's belief that a piece has fallen out between the upper and lower portions as now joined.[2]

1776 sessions[edit]

May 8 – May 25, June 21 – July 6, and August 14 – November 11

The eighth session decided that the continuation of an ad hoc government by the convention was not a good mechanism for all the concerns of the province. A more permanent and structured government was needed. So, on July 3, 1776 they resolved that a new convention be elected that would be responsible for drawing up their first state constitution, one that did not refer to parliament or the king, but would be a government "...of the people only." After they set dates and prepared notices to the counties they adjourned. On August 1 all freemen with property elected delegates for the last convention.

The ninth and last convention was also known as the Constitutional Convention of 1776. They drafted a constitution, and when they adjourned on November 11, they would not meet again. The Conventions were replaced by the new state government.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ William Hand Browne, ed. (1892). Archives of Maryland / Journal of the Maryland Convention July 26 – August 14, 1775 / Journal and correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety August 29, 1775 – July 6, 1776. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society. pp. 66–67. 
  2. ^ William Hand Browne, ed. (1892). Archives of Maryland / Journal of the Maryland Convention July 26 – August 14, 1775 / Journal and correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety August 29, 1775 – July 6, 1776. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society. viii–ix. 

External links[edit]