Front Page Titles (by Subject) 63: Act for Establishing the House of Assembly and the Laws to Be Made Therein - Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History
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63: Act for Establishing the House of Assembly and the Laws to Be Made Therein - Donald S. Lutz, Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History 
Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History, ed. Donald S. Lutz (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1998).
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Act for Establishing the House of Assembly and the Laws to Be Made Therein
Text, complete and with the original spelling, taken from Browne, Archives of Maryland: Vol. i, 81–82.
There had been an assembly of some sort in Maryland since 1635, but this document begins the recorded history of representative government in the colony. The proprietary government in Maryland was much like that in Pennsylvania, which is to say the governor representing the proprietor had almost unlimited power. The charters for both colonies, however, required that the proprietor pass laws with the advice and approbation of the freemen. In Pennsylvania William Penn took this part of the charter seriously, whereas in Maryland the absentee proprietor did not. His appointed governor, called Lieutenant General, essentially used the legislature created by this document as a rubber stamp. It is emblematic in the document below that certain specific individuals were invited to the Assembly by the Lieutenant General, while the freemen at large were not called but instead allowed to show up as they wished. Nevertheless, the mere existence of the legislature and the realities of colonial existence led the freemen to demand more and more real power. Gradually the legislature evolved into a true representative body, beginning with an act of the assembly that defined more clearly the relationship between the governor and the Assembly and laid out an orderly, systematic electoral process (see An Act Concerning the Calling of General Assemblies ).
Memorandum That at the first meeting of the Assembly on the 25th day of February 1638 was Enacted and ordeined one Act as followeth
An Act For the Establishing the house of Assembly and the Laws to be made therein
Whereas the Kings Majestie by his Letters pattents hath given and granted full free and absolute power and authority to the Lord Proprietary of this province to make and ordeine any laws apperteining to the state of this Province by and with the advice assent and approbation of the freemen of the same or of the greater part of them or of their Deligates or deputies in such sort and forme as to the said Lord proprietarie should seem best. By Vertue Whereof Severall writts or Summons have been directed to certain Gentlemen to appear personally at this Assembly and to the rest of the free men inhabiting within the Severall hundreds of this Colony and the Isle of Kent to elect their delegates or deputies in their names and steeds to be present at the same and accordingly all the freemen of the said severall hundreds and of the Isle of Kent (some few excepted) have elected certain persons to that end and the same their Election have subscribed and returned upon record and their said Dellegates and Deputies are now assembled accordingly. Be it therefore Enacted and ordeined by the said Lord Proprietarie of and with the advice assent and approbation of the Freemen and of the delegates and deputies assembled at this present Assembly that the said Severall Persons so elected and returned as aforesaid shall be and be called Burgesses and shall supply the places of all the freemen consenting or subscribing to such their election in the same manner and to all the same intents and purposes as the Burgesses of any burrough in England in the Parliament of England useth to Supply the place of the Inhabitants of the Burroughe whereof he is Elected Burges and that the said Gentlemen and Burgesses and such other Freemen (not having Consented to any the Elections as aforesaid) as now are or shall be at any time Assembled or any twelve or more of them whereof the Lieutenant Generall and Secretary of the Province to be allwaies two shall be called the house of Assembly; and that all Acts and ordinances assented unto and approved by the said house or by the Major part of the Persons assembled and afterward assented unto by the Lieutenant Generall in the name of the said Lord proprietarie and shall be adjudged and established for laws to all the same force and effect as if the said Lord proprietary and all the freemen of this Province were personally present and did assent to and approve of the same ...
[Approved by the freemen, and the Lieutenant General in behalf of the Lord Proprietor, March 12, 1638.]