Annapolis Charter 300 1708-2008
—Commemorating the 1708 Royal Charter under Queen Anne to the City of Annapolis —
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
With these ringing words of resolve, the signers of the Declaration of Independence not only refined their vision of a free country, but knowingly signed their own death warrants had the struggle been lost.
Four Maryland men signed the Declaration of Independence, and each of them called Annapolis home for a time. Annapolis is the only city that boasts surviving houses of all its state's signers — links to the revolutionary era when American independence was won.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton spent part of his boyhood in Annapolis before he left for a European education. William Paca, Samuel Chase, and Thomas Stone all came to the colonial capital as young men to train for legal careers. Chase and Paca settled here; Stone went back to his native Charles County but returned later. All four men became patriot leaders before the Revolutionary War.
These men were visionaries, and had the moral courage to put their names on this public document, after which there could be no retreat. In August 1776, William Paca and Samuel Chase were thirty-five. Thomas Stone was thirty-three, and Charles Carroll
of Carrollton was thirty-eight. All had trained as lawyers. The four men had in common their relative youth and their legal training.
After declaring independence in 1776, the signers continued to serve Maryland and the new United States. Thomas Stone helped to draft the Articles of Confederation, America's first blueprint for a national government. William Paca was a three-term governor. Samuel Chase became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Charles Carroll served as a state and federal senator and outlived all of the country's signers; he died in 1831.
Glenn Campbell, Historic Annapolis Foundation
Clubbing in Annapolis
Gentlemen's clubs patterned on the coffee house clubs of England and Scotland met in colonial Annapolis. Years before 1776, three of Maryland's four future signers (Paca, Stone, and Chase; Carroll was in Europe) were members of the Forensic Club, which held serious debates on philosophical, ethical, and political topics. The club provided a forum where these promising young men could hone their reasoning and speaking skills, but its meetings also served up supper, wine, and great quantities of rum punch!
Photograph by Karen Engelke, 2005.
. . July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.
Portraits of the Maryland signers painted by Orlando Lagman in the 1970's were gifted by the University of Maryland to the City of Annapolis in 2006. The four oils, with an accompanying framed Declaration of Independence, hang in the City Hall campus as constant reminders of the bravery and dedication to liberty of our forefathers.
Samuel Chase began building his Annapolis home in 1769 but never lived in the house. Financial pressures forced him to sell the unfinished building in 1771 to Edward Lloyd, a wealthy Eastern Shore planter.
William Paca built his home on Prince George Street in 1763, on two lots purchased four days after his marriage to wealthy heiress Mary Chew. His was probably the first of Annapolis's Georgian mansions to be built as a unit in the elaborate five-part form.
Thomas Stone owned and lived in a Georgian home on Hanover Street, built c. 1761-64 for Thomas Rutland as rental property, when he signed the Declaration of Independence. IT continues as a private home today, and is known as The Peggy Steward House.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton was born in the house on Duke of Gloucester Street which his father, Charles Carroll of Annapolis, built in 1721.
The copy of the Declaration signed on July 4th did not survive; the copy signed on August 2nd has — and consequently, the block of signatures for the Maryland delegation has immortalized just four of the men who represented Maryland in the movement for independence: Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Samuel Chase, William Paca, and Thomas Stone.
With appreciation for their assistance: Historic Annapolis Foundation and the Office of the Mayor.
To Learn More about Maryland's Signers, You can Read:
American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, by Pualine Maier
Princes of Ireland, Planters of Maryland, by Ronald Hoffman
William Paca, by Gregory Stiverson & Phoebe Jacobsen
Architecture in Annapolis: A Field Guide, by Marsha M. Miller and Orlando Ridout V...and other books can be found at the Historic Annapolis Museum Store, Main Street, Annapolis, and other local bookstores.
This Annapolis Charter 300 project is being supported in part by a Preserve America grant administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior. This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinion, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.