Following the Declaration of Independence, Maryland held a constitutional convention to create a state government. Men owning fifty acres of land or property worth 40 pounds were given the opportunity to select delegates to this convention. The constitution they produced resembled in structure the colonial government minus the proprietor. It also reflected the conservative nature of the delegates. All white men possessing property worth at least 20 pounds could vote, but only those worth 500 pounds could hold office in the lower house of the new state legislature. Seats in the upper house, in the executive council, as delegates to the Continental Congress, and as local sheriffs were open only to those worth 1,000 pounds, and the governor’s chair was available only to those worth 5,000 pounds. Finally, the convention did not ask Maryland voters to ratify the constitution but issued the document as already in force. The less affluent agreed to these restrictions because the first state assembly designated as legal tender for all debts the paper money that had already lost a portion of its original value. This eased payment of debts for the poor, and they acquiesced to the state constitution.
James E. Klein See also: Baltimore; Calvert, Cecilius; Calvert, George (First Lord Baltimore); Catholic Church; Chesapeake; Maryland (Chronology). Bibliography Burnard, Trevor. Creole Gentlemen: The Maryland Elite, 1691 1776. New York: Routledge, 2002. Land, Aubrey C. Colonial Maryland: A History. Millwood, NY: KTO, 1981. Linck, Joseph C. Fully Instructional and Vehemently Influenced: Catholic Preaching in Anglo-Colonial America. Philadelphia: Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2002. Morgan, Philip D. Slave Counterpoints: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake & Lowcountry. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.