Governor Robert Eden and the American Revolution

Introduction

Sir Robert Eden by Florence MacKubin (1914) after Charles Willson Peale [MSA SC 1545-1108]. Sir Robert Eden served as governor from 1769-1776. He succeeded Horatio Sharpe and was Maryland's last royally appointed governor.  He was considered a more moderate than prior royal governors and was allowed to stay in Maryland after independence was declared. However, by April 1776 dispatches were intercepted by Virginia leaders that were addressed to Eden from Britain's Lord George Germaine and Dartmouth. These dispatches implicated him in transactions which were deemed to be hostile to America's liberty. American General Charles Lee sent the transactions to Congress in Philadelphia. General Lee backed by Congress ordered the Baltimore Committee of Observation to arrest Eden. The capture of Eden was thwarted by the Maryland Council of Safety, who had not been priory informed. Officials in Annapolis allowed Eden to embark for England.

Members of the Baltimore Committee of Observation were brought before the officials in Annapolis to answer for their actions. The Maryland Council of Safety, which consisted of such leaders as Charles Carroll the Barrister, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, William Paca, Samuel Chase, and future governor Thomas Johnson, felt that they had been slighted by the Baltimore Committee and Virginia.  The interviews of two key members of the Baltimore Committee of Observation reveal that there was a concern that the leaders in Annapolis were too hesitant to act in the best interest of Maryland.  This reluctance caused the Baltimore Committee to act on its own.  The fact that the Council allowed Eden to leave for England seemed to support this notion in the eyes of the Baltimore leaders. After the War Eden returned to Maryland. He died on September 2, 1786 at the age of 42 and is buried in Annapolis.

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades K-4:

STANDARD 3: The people, events, problems, and ideas that created the history of their state.

Standard 3E: The student understands the ideas that were significant in the development of the state and that helped to forge its unique identity.

3-4: Draw upon a variety of sources to describe the unique historical conditions that influenced the formation of the state. [Obtain historical data]

STANDARD 4: How democratic values came to be, and how they have been exemplified by people, events, and symbols. 

Standard 4A: The student understands how the United States government was formed and the nation’s basic democratic principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

K-4: Explain that the U.S. government was formed by English colonists who fought for independence from England. [Explain causes and consequences] 
K-4: Explain the importance of the basic principles of American democracy that unify us as a nation: our individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; responsibility for the common good; equality of opportunity and equal protection of the law; freedom of speech and religion; majority rule with protection for minority rights; and limitations on government, with power held by the people and delegated by them to their elected officials who are responsible to those who elected them to office. [Demonstrate and explain the influence of ideas] 

Primary Resources

  1. DESCRIPTION:  Governor Eden to the People of Maryland
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  August 29, 1775
    NOTE:  A letter from Governor Eden urging the residents of Maryland not to rebel against Britain.
    SOURCE:  MARYLAND STATE PAPERS (Red Books) MSA S 989-1; MdHR 4557-02; 1/6/3/34
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  2. DESCRIPTION:  * to Council of Safety
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  1775  
    NOTE:  Interception of Governor's correspondence to William Eden and Lord Darthmouth.
    SOURCE:  MARYLAND STATE PAPERS (Red Books) MSA S 989-2; MdHR 4557-03; 1/6/3/34
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  3. DESCRIPTION:  Hammond, Andrew S. ("Roebuck", Gwinn Island) to Eden
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  May 30, 1776
    NOTE:  Preparations for the evacuation of Gov. Eden.
    SOURCE: MARYLAND STATE PAPERS (Black Books) MSA S 987-11-12; MdHR 4629-69; 1/6/3/25 
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  4. DESCRIPTION:  Inventory of Governor Eden's estate
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  May 17, 1776
    SOURCE:  MARYLAND STATE PAPERS (Red Books) MSA S 989-6; MdHR 4557-07; 1/6/3/34
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  5. DESCRIPTION:  Letter, William Eden (Downing St.) to Robert Eden
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  November 15, 1775
    NOTE:  British reaction to American rebellion.
    SOURCE:  Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776. In Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  6. DESCRIPTION:   Letter, Charles Lee to Samuel Purviance
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: April 6,1776
    NOTE: This the letter sent to Samuel Purviance ordering him to seize Robert Eden.
    SOURCE: Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776. 
    In Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  7. DESCRIPTION:  In Council of Safety Annapolis 20 April 1776 Ordered, That Mr. William Lux, Deputy Chairman of the Committee of Observation for Baltimore County, attend the Council of Safety at the City of Annapolis on Monday the 22d Instant.
    NOTE:  In response to the attempted capture of Robert Eden by the Baltimore Committee of Observation, several of its members were ordered to appear before the Council of Safety in Annapolis.  They were instructed to bring with them the minutes from the Committee meetings that were relevant to the Eden affair. 
    SOURCE: Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776. In   Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  8. DESCRIPTION:  The examination of Mr William Lux deputy chairman of the Committee of observation for Baltimore County.
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: April 24, 1776
    NOTE: William Lux, chairman of the Baltimore Committee of Observation is interviewed by the Council of Safety concerning his actions in the Eden affair.
    SOURCE: Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776.
    In Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  9. DESCRIPTION:  Examination of Mr Samuel Purviance junior Chairman of the Committee of observation for Baltimore County
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: April 24, 1776
    SOURCE: Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776. In Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives

  10. DESCRIPTION:  Letter, John Hancock to the Council of Safety
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  April 16, 1776
    NOTE:  A letter from John Hancock informing the Council of Safety of the suspicion regarding Robert Eden.  It also ordered the seizure of Eden and his papers.
    SOURCE: Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776. In Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  11. DESCRIPTION: Letter, Robert Eden to Charles Carroll, John Hall and William Paca
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  April 17, 1776
    SOURCE: Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776. In Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  12. DESCRIPTION:  Letter, Council of Safety to Robert Eden
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  April 18, 1776
    SOURCE: Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776. In  Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  13. DESCRIPTION:  Letter, Council of Safety to the Deputies for Maryland in Congress
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  April 18, 1776
    SOURCE: Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776. In Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

  14. DESCRIPTION:  Letter, Lord Dartmouth to Robert Eden
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:  July 5, 1775
    SOURCE: Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776. In Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY:
      Maryland State Archives

  15. DESCRIPTION:  Letter, Lord G. Germain to Robert Eden
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:   December 22, 1775
    SOURCE:  Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776. In Archives of Maryland Online
    REPOSITORY:  Maryland State Archives

Additional Media Resources

Founding.com: A User's Guide to the Declaration of Independence

Sir Robert Eden (1741-1784) Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series) MSA SC 3520-391

Additional Instructional Resources

Spy Games

History Firsthand Primary Source Research in Elementary School

Secondary Resources

Barker, Charles A. Background of the Revolution in Maryland.  Reprint. Hamden, Conn:  Archon Books, 1967 [c1947].

Beirne, Rosamond Randall.  "Portrait of a Colonial Governor:  Robert Eden, I---His Entrance" Maryland Historical Magazine (Sep. 1950): 153-175.

Beirne, Rosamond Randall.  "Portrait of a Colonial Governor:  Robert Eden, II---His Exit, " Maryland Historical Magazine (Dec. 1950): 294-311.

"Correspondence of Governor Robert Eden," Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. II (1907), 1-13, 66-67, 97-110, 227-244, 293-309.

Hoffman, Ronald.  A Spirit of Dissension: Economics, Politics, and the Revolution in Maryland.  Baltimore:  The John Hopkins University Press, 1973.

Skaggs, David Curtis. “Maryland’s Impulse towards Social Revolution: 1750-1776.” The Journal of American History, 54, no. 4 (1968):  771-786.

Steiner, Bernard Christian.  Life and Administration of Sir Robert Eden. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1898.

Associated Heritage and Preservation Organizations

Hammond-Harwood House
19 Maryland Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21401
Government House
State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401
410-974-3531
The Barracks 
43 Pinckney Street, Annapolis, MD 21401
410-267-7619

Note: Typical dwelling of a colonial artisan or tradesman. Furnished to depict a lifestyle of Revolutionary War soldiers. Open by appointment.

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Credits

Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was researched and developed by Rose Marie King.

 

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