Today in History: March 25
On March 25, Marylanders celebrate the 1634 arrival of the first colonists to the land that King Charles I of England had chartered to Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore. Named for the king's wife, Henrietta Maria, Maryland was the first proprietary colony in what is now the United States. As the head of a proprietary colony, Lord Baltimore had almost absolute control over the colony in return for paying the king a share of all gold or silver discovered on the land.
From its founding, Maryland was seen as 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 in receipt of foreign traffic and commerce 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.
Learn more about the history of the state of Maryland:
- The Capital and the Bay: Narratives of Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Region, ca. 1600-1925 captures a distinctive region as it developed between the onset of European settlement and the first quarter of the twentieth century. Search on the term Maryland in this collection to see items such as A Relation of Maryland which was originally printed in 1635.
- To view more maps of the state, search on Maryland in Panoramic Maps, 1847-1929 and in Map Collections. For more panoramic photographs, search on Maryland in Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991.
- 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. Highlighted are over 200 objects including early American books, manuscripts, letters, prints, paintings, artifacts, and music. Scroll to the middle of the America as Refuge section to find a richly illustrated history of Roman Catholics in Maryland.
…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, (Baltimore, Maryland, J. Murphy & Co., 1899), 39.
The Capital and the Bay, ca. 1600-1925.