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From 1634 to 1838, the Governor and Council formed the executive branch of the government. Both the governor and council were originally commissioned by the proprietor and served at his pleasure. The governor administered the central government, appointed civil and military officials, granted land patents, and collected proprietary rents and revenues. The council advised the governor and served as other proprietary officers. Throughout the colonial period, the Governor and Council also acted in legislative and judicial capacities. Between 1650 and 1675 they comprised the Upper House of the General Assembly. Thereafter, the council sat alone as the Upper House until 1776. The governor and council sat as judges of the Provincial Court from 1634 to 1674 and of the Court of Appeals from 1650 to 1776. Moreover, the governor usually served as chancellor to the Chancery Court and, during the royal period (1692-1715), every governor was commissioned to head an Admiralty Court within the province. The Maryland Constitution of 1776 eliminated the legislative and judicial responsibilities of the Governor and Council. It also provided for their annual election by the General Assembly. The governor was limited to no more than three sucessive one-year terms. The Governor and Council acquired new responsibilities under the state Constitution. Central among them was the supervision of elections (Constitution of 1776, art. 42). In 1777, the Governor and Council validated county sheriff elections (Chapter 19, Acts of 1777). A later law directed the Governor and Council to inspect and examine election returns of congressional and presidential elections (Chapter 61, Acts of 1790, sec. 9). The council was abolished by constitutional amendment in 1838 and thereafter the governor, elected by popular vote, exercised sole executive authority in the state (Chapter 197, Acts of 1836, ratified 1837). Record keeping duties formerly performed by the council were assumed by the newly created Secretary of State.

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