So, your teacher has asked you to submit an essay on the history of Maryland? Or perhaps you need to prepare for your upcoming history exams and need to revise the state’s complex history.
As the deadline approaches, you’ll start sifting through your textbooks and scour the internet for some references and history help. But the deeper you dig, the more confused you’re going to feel. This is because Maryland boasts a vast and fascinating history that dates back to as early as 1,000 B.C.
Featuring numerous waterways and a stunning Atlantic coastline, Maryland is one of the most fascinating states in the U.S. From the scenic Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Shore to the stunning Appalachian mountains and the bustling city of Baltimore – Maryland is an embodiment of diverse natural landscapes and cultures.
And the state’s yesteryears are just as colorful. What started as a British colony in the early 17th century went on to play a significant role in the War of 1812. But Maryland’s tumultuous past can be overwhelming if you try to write an essay summarizing its history.
In this blog, we’ve handpicked some of the most important and intriguing facts from Maryland’s history to help you find some inspiration for your assignments. Let’s take a look.
1. The First Marylanders Were Native Americans
That’s right! Much like other regions of North America, the Paleo-Indians or Native Americans were the first inhabitants of Maryland. They most likely ventured to Maryland to hunt mammoth, caribou, and bison.
Based on the artifacts found in the state, archaeologists believe that the first settlements date back to more than 13,000 years ago. By 1,000 B.C., Maryland’s population comprised more than 8,000 Paleo-Indians belonging to different tribes, such as the Lenape, Nanticoke, Shawnee, and Powhatan tribes.
2. Maryland Became a British Colony in 1634
After the initial settlement of the Native Americans, Maryland caught the eye of European explorers, notably Giovanni de Verranzo and Captain John Smith. The state even became home to a fur trading post, which was established on Kent Island in 1631. But it wasn’t until 1934 that Maryland was formally colonized.
The colonization of Maryland started with George Calvert, the 1st Baron Baltimore, requesting King Charles I for proprietary rights to the land on the east of the Potomac River that would eventually be known as the Province of Maryland. Calvert’s primary object was to establish a safe colony for Roman Catholics who were persecuted in England.
Following George Calvert’s death in April 1632, King Charles I granted the royal charter to Maryland Colony to Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, on June 20 of the same year. Cecilius Calvert coined the name of the colony to honor Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of King Charles I.
Eventually, the first settlers to Maryland commenced their journey from the Isle of Wight on November 22, 1633, aboard two ships, the Ark and the Dove. The group, led by Leonard Calvert, Cecilius’s brother, set foot on St. Clement’s Island in Maryland on March 25, 1634. That’s why this date is celebrated as Maryland Day every year.
3. St. Mary’s City Was the Colonial Capital of Maryland
Annapolis, formerly known as Providence, wasn’t recognized as the official capital of Maryland until 1695. Instead, Leonard Calvert established St. Mary’s City as the colonial capital after purchasing land from the Yaocomico Indians. The city was designed to reflect the ruling government’s views on religious freedom.
4. The U.S. National Anthem Was Written in Maryland
Francis Scott Key, a Maryland-based lawyer and amateur poet, penned the words to his poem “The Defence of Fort McHenry” in 1814. The poem was widely published and soon came to be known as “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
Composer John Stafford Smith set it to the tune of “To Anacreon Heaven”, which further increased its popularity. Eventually, it was adopted as the U.S. national anthem on March 3, 1931.
The visual of the lone U.S. flag hovering over Fort McHenry after relentless attempts of the British troops to invade the fort inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem as a tribute. This happened during the War of 1812.
5. Baltimore Received the First Long-Distance Telegram
When Samuel B. Morse had to demonstrate how the telegraph worked to the Members of Congress in Washington D.C., he chose to send a 19-letter telegram to his assistant in Baltimore.
The message, which read “What hath God wrought”, was the first-ever long-distance telegram. It was transmitted over a distance of more than 40 miles. The event marked the beginning of a new era in communication technology.
Do you know any other historical facts and trivia about Maryland? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.