Charles Benedict Calvert

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Charles Benedict Calvert
Charles Benedict Calvert - photo portrait seated.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1861 – March 3, 1863
Preceded by George Wurtz Hughes
Succeeded by District abolished
Member of the Maryland House of Delegates
In office
Personal details
Born (1808-08-23)August 23, 1808
Riversdale, Maryland, U.S.
Died May 12, 1864(1864-05-12) (aged 55)
Riverdale Park, Maryland, U.S.
Political party Democratic (1839–1860)
Unionist (1861–1863)
Charlotte Augusta Norris
(m. 1839; his death 1864)
Children 6
Parents George Calvert
Rosalie Stier Calvert
Alma mater University of Virginia
Profession Businessman, landowner

Charles Benedict Calvert (August 23, 1808 – May 12, 1864) was an American politician who was a U.S. Representative from the sixth district of Maryland, serving one term from 1861–1863. He was an early backer of the inventors of the telegraph, and in 1856 he founded the Maryland Agricultural College, the first agricultural research college in America, now known as the University of Maryland. He was a direct descendant of the Lords Baltimore, proprietary governors of the Province of Maryland from 1631 until 1776.

Early life[edit]

Calvert was born on August 23, 1808 at his family's estate at Riversdale, Maryland. His mother was Rosalie Eugenia Stier (1778–1821), the daughter of a wealthy Flemish aristocrat, Baron Henri Joseph Stier (1743–1821) and his wife Marie-Louise Peeters. The Stiers had fled to America in the late eighteenth century as French Republican armies occupied their hometown of Antwerp. Calvert's father, the wealthy planter George Calvert (1768–1838), was the son of the Loyalist politician Benedict Swingate Calvert (c.1730–1788) - a natural son of the penultimate Proprietary Governor of Maryland, Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore - and his wife Elizabeth Calvert (1731 – 1788).


Calvert completed his preparatory studies at Bladensburg Academy of Maryland. Later, he received a certificate of completion from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in 1827, even though he attended the university spuriously, and engaged in agricultural pursuits and stock breeding.

Science and agriculture[edit]

Calvert inherited a plantation from his family, called Riverdale.[1] He "introduced scientific agriculture to the plantation, adopted ideas published in journals and newspapers, exhibited at county and state fairs, and introduced a number of his own innovations. He could implement these innovations because of the large number of slaves - as many as 55 in 1850 - at his command."[2]

Calvert was a strong backer of the inventors of the telegraph, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail. On April 9, 1844, Morse and Vail successfully tested their device by transmitting a message from the nation's capital to the Calvert home, Riversdale.[3] This test came 45 days before the more celebrated event when Morse sent the message "What hath God wrought?" from Washington to Baltimore, along telegraph lines that ran above the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line near Riversdale.

Calvert became president of the Prince George's County, Maryland Agricultural Society and the Maryland State Agricultural Society, and served as vice president of the United States Pomological Society.[4] He founded the first agricultural research college in America (later known as the Maryland Agricultural College at College Park, and presently known as the University of Maryland, College Park) which was chartered in 1856. Calvert was also one of the early advocates for the establishment of the United States Department of Agriculture.


Calvert served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates in 1839, 1843, and 1844.[5] In 1860, Calvert was elected as a Unionist to the Thirty-seventh Congress, serving from March 4, 1861 until March 3, 1863, but was not a candidate for renomination in 1862. He resumed agricultural pursuits until his death at Riversdale, and is interred in Calvert Cemetery.


  1. ^ Swick, Edgar H. (1931-01-16). The history and construction of the Calvert mansion in Riverdale, Maryland / by Edgar H. Swick. College Park University of Maryland. 
  2. ^ "Riversdale Plantation Historical Marker". Retrieved 2018-08-21. 
  3. ^ "Riversdale Mansion". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09.  Retrieved November 2010
  4. ^ Daily National Republican. "Respect to the Memory of the Late Hon. Charles B. Calvert." May 18, 1864: 1 (Second Edition).
  5. ^ United States. Congress. Office of the Historian. Biographical Directory of the United States 1774 - Present. Office of the Historian. (accessed December 7, 2012).


External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Benjamin Hallowell (educator)
President of the Maryland Agricultural College
1860 (acting)
Succeeded by
John Work Scott
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
George Wurtz Hughes
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 6th congressional district

March 4, 1861 – March 3, 1863
Succeeded by
seat abolished