Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit


Publication Date

Spring 1999


This essay examines three questions, in each case using the colony and state of Maryland as a case study. First, why did some states adopt the penitentiary so much earlier than others? Pennsylvania opened one in 1790, but South Carolina waited until 1868 to do so. Given the variations in timing, did different states establish penitentiaries for different reasons? That seems to have been the case, as a comparison of Maryland's path to the penitentiary with that of other jurisdictions will demonstrate. Second, was the penitentiary truly revolutionary? Perhaps in some places, but not in Maryland. Third, did the diverse paths to the penitentiary produce equally diverse forms of the penitentiary? At least in the case of Maryland, that seems not to have been the case.


This article was originally published in Journal of the Early Republic. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


Journal of the Early Republic


© 1999 Society for Historians of the Early American Republic