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 provincial government from 1774 to 1776 during the early days leading up to the American Revolution. After 1775, it was officially named the Assembly of Freemen.
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. 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
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.
July 26 – August 14 and December 7, 1775 – January 28, 1776
Declaration of the Association of the Freemen of Maryland
ASSOCIATION of the FREEMEN of MARYLAND
July 26, 1775.
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 uncontrollable 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 solemnly 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.
|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|
Note by Maryland Historical Society
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.
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.
- Annapolis Convention (1786)
- History of Maryland
- History of Maryland in the American Revolution
- List of delegates to the Maryland Constitutional Convention (1776)
- 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.
- 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.