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As the first law on religious tolerance in the British North America, it influenced related laws in other colonies and portions of it were echoed in the writing of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which enshrined religious freedom in American law.
The Maryland colony was founded by Cecil Calvert in 1634.
The Calvert family, who founded Maryland partly as a refuge for English Catholics, sought enactment of the law to protect Catholic settlers and those of other religions that did not conform to the dominant Anglicanism of Britain and her colonies.
They were also concerned that by swearing allegiance to Calvert, who was Catholic, they were being required to submit to the Pope, whom they considered to be the antichrist.Specifically, the bill, now usually referred to as the Toleration Act, granted freedom of conscience to all Christians.(The colony which became Rhode Island passed a series of laws, the first in 1636, which prohibited religious persecution including against non-Trinitarians; Rhode Island was also the first government to separate church and state.) Historians argue that it helped inspire later legal protections for freedom of religion in the United States.Following the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England, when the Catholic King James II of England was deposed and the Protestant William III ascended the throne, a rebellion of Maryland Puritan Protestants overthrew Calvert's rule.They quickly rescinded the Toleration Act and banned public practice of Catholicism, and it would never be reinstated under colonial rule.
Along with giving instructions on the establishment and defense of the colony, he asked the men he appointed to lead it to ensure peace between Protestants and Catholics.