On March 25, 1634, the first group of settlers landed in what is now southern Maryland, an event commemorated each year on Maryland Day. The land was chartered by King Charles I of England to Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore. Named for the king’s wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, Maryland was the first proprietary colony in what was to become the United States. Lord Baltimore had almost absolute control over the colony in return for paying King Charles a share of all gold or silver discovered on the land.
Maryland became a safe haven for Catholics escaping religious persecution in England. In 1649, Governor William Stone, under the direction of Lord Baltimore, passed an act ensuring religious liberty and justice to all who believed in Jesus Christ.
Annapolis was named the capital of Maryland in 1694 and is home to the nation’s oldest statehouse. Built in 1772, the Maryland State House is still in use. Annapolis is also the home of the U.S. Naval Academy, founded in 1845. The city of Baltimore, founded in 1729, remains one of the busiest ports in the nation with respect to handling foreign tonnage and the dollar amount of cargo handled.
Maryland entered the Union in 1788 as the seventh state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. During the War of 1812, when British troops bombarded Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, one of the city’s young lawyers, Francis Scott Key, witnessed the attack and penned the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner.” Nearly fifty years later, when Americans fought the Civil War, Maryland saw one of the war’s bloodiest battles on September 17, 1862, by Antietam Creek at Sharpsburg.
…in this place on our b: Ladies day in lent, we first offered, erected a crosse, and with devotion tooke solemne possession of the Country…
Father White (a priest who accompanied the Maryland colonists), “A Briefe Relation of the Voyage Unto Maryland,” in The Calvert Papers, Number Three, 1899, p. 39. Capital and the Bay: Narratives of Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Region, 1600 to 1925.
- Capital and the Bay: Narratives of Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Region, 1600-1925 captures a distinctive region as it developed between the onset of European settlement and the first quarter of the twentieth century.
- To view more maps of the state, search for Maryland in Panoramic Maps and in General Maps. For more panoramic photographs, search for Maryland in Panoramic Photographs.
- For a thorough introduction to the role religion played in the founding of the American colonies, visit the online exhibition Religion and the Founding of the American Republic. More than 200 objects are highlighted, including early American books, manuscripts, letters, prints, paintings, artifacts, and music. Scroll to the middle of the America as a Religious Refuge section to find a richly illustrated history of Roman Catholics in Maryland.