Calvert County's History

Calvert County is surrounded by water except at the north end of the county, where it meets Anne Arundel County. A bridge at Solomon's Island connects Calvert with St. Mary's County, and a bridge at Route 231 connects it with Charles County. The county is only 30 miles long north to south, and 5 to 9 miles wide.

The county's early economics were based on moderate-sized, self-sufficient plantations producing tobacco as a cash crop and its early settlers were the recipients of land grants from Lord Baltimore, indentured servants, or slaves from Africa.

The American Revolution

Isolated from the rest of the colonies, southern Maryland did not generally feel the tax and restrictions from England that led to the American Revolution. The tobacco planters' market was in England, and England was their source of manufactured goods. But in 1774, the "freeholders" of Calvert County did elect representatives to the Continental Congress and supported Maryland's various measures to establish self-government.

After the American Revolution, Calvert County's primary market was still England. During the War of 1812, southern Maryland was the target of attacks and landings for the march on Washington. Much of Calvert County's plantations and towns were demolished by the British army on its way to Washington, and rebuilding was a long process.

The Civil War

The plantation system died with the War Between the States. Devastated by the loss of its wealth and labor (slave) force, Calvert county was forced to reestablish its economy on a new basis. Tobacco was still the main cash crop, but the fishing grounds of the Chesapeake Bay increased in importance. The first large-scale commercial fishery was established in the southern part of the county by Captain Isaac Solomon in 1867.

The Watermen

Shipbuilding became an important industry. The fishing fleet at Solomon's grew to 500 vessls by 1880, almost all of which were built locally at Solomons. The distinctively Chesapeake Bay Bugeye was invented in Calvert County, as well as its smaller, one-masted version, the Skip-Jack. But, on the most part, Calvert County resisted the post-Civil War industrialization, and the old families maintained their social and political positions.

Some of the county's citizens who became famous were Roger Brooke Taney, a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Louisa Johnson Adams, wife of President John Quincy Adams, and Ann Mackall Smith Taylor, wife of President Zachary Taylor. Decendants of many of the original colonial families still live in the county and maintain political and economic control. A number of the family manors remain, some as homes, some as restaurants or bed and breakfast establishments.

Modern Calvert County

After the First World War, the automobile and road building brought Calvert County's isolation to an end. However, the efforts of the county government have prevented the county from becoming a Washington or Annapolis bedroom community so far.

principal but not the sole source of information: A History of Calvert County Maryland, by Charles Francis Stein, 1976.

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