The American Revolution is often viewed as the birth of modern democracy. But the representative democracy that Americans now enjoy only came about gradually, on a state-by-state basis. This lesson looks at the 1776 Maryland Constitution in order to show the limits of early American democratic ideals, and to bring out the various factions at the time that were fighting for new rights. The ruling Maryland gentry, for example, were loath to break from Britain, since many of their rights and privileges stemmed from the crown's government. Other Maryland delegates, however, believed the 1776 Convention to be the opportunity to expand voting rights to ordinary citizens, regardless of their property qualifications. In the end, Maryland's first constitution excluded some 40% of free households in the state, in contrast to neighboring Pennsylvania, which legislated the secret ballot and no property qualifications for either voting or being a political candidate. This lesson will allow students to explore their state's early history, placing the Revolution in a local context. Students will also learn about the difference between ideals and realities in the history of American political life.
Maryland's Revolution was not especially \"revolutionary\" because its leaders were wealthy men who were angry with Britain and unhappy about living in a monarchy but who also wanted to preserve their own power. The wealthy gentry had a stronghold on the political and economic decision making for the Maryland colony under the proprietorship. Maryland's political leaders were concerned about losing power to the ordinary citizens.
The ruling gentry such as Samuel Chase, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Thomas Johnson and William Paca, thought it best for everyone if they remained in power. It was the Hall - Hammond faction, eleven men at the Convention who consistently opposed the leadership of Chase, Paca, Carroll and Johnson, who had visions of a greater democracy in the state's constitution.
Not many Marylanders' agreed with the gentry's constitution. Many did not feel they were gaining much more representation in the newly formed government of Maryland than they had under British rule. The colonists expected more from the Revolution. In particular, many white men demanded the right to vote--especially if they were expected to fight a war for this new government.
If you were counted among the wealthy gentry, your perspective of the 1776 Maryland Constitution would most likely be favorable. For everyone else, democratic rights would evolve more gradually as the state's constitution was amended over time.
The traditional historical picture of the monastery has been as a separate entity under different laws, serving a parallel but removed part of the local community. However, my study is a local history of a provincial monastery in seventeenth century Riazan\\u2019. Using Solotchinskii monastery as a focus, I examine how the monastery functioned as a local religious institution of power, intersecting with the secular institutions. This explores a system of shared governance that came to assert the primacy of local power structures in opposition to the centralization of the Muscovite state. At the same time, the monastery served as a spiritual body and a substantial administrative organization that oversaw a diverse population on its estates. Two critical features provide a framework to this study: First, the foundation of Solotchinskii as a \\u201Cprincely\\u201D rather than \\u201Csaintly\\u201D institution routinely endowed by local elite (thus allowing me to trace the long-term relationship between monastic personnel and local elite and gentry). Second, the location of Solotchinskii makes it a unique study: it in Riazan\\u2019 province and was peripheral to the consolidation of the Muscovite state. This had a critical effect on the formation of political structures and boundaries of negotiation with respect to the multiple political and social polities, and created an atmosphere of compromise that conditioned Riazan\\u2019 to look for alternative methods of political expression. 59ce067264