Maryland: The Free State

Maryland, also known as “Old Line State” and “Free State,” joined the Union on April 28, 1788 as the seventh of the original thirteen colonies. It is located in the Mid-Atlantic region and borders Virginia and Washington DC in the Southwest, West Virginia in the West, Pennsylvania in the North and Delaware in the Northeast. The District of Columbia, the capital of the US, is an enclave in the western part of the state. Annapolis has been the capital of the state since 1694, it is also a very important center of trade for the surrounding agricultural region. Its economy is based mainly on the production of radar devices and underwater equipment for military purposes, as well as research and development in the communications sector. The US Marine Academy (1845) is in Annapolis, as well as Saint John’s College (1784). A city landmark is the State House (1772-1780), the oldest parliament building in the U.S. The Treaty of Paris, which ended the American War of Independence, was ratified here in 1783.

The relatively small state is also a state of extremes: there is the metropolis of Baltimore, and then there are the remote hills of the Appalachian Mountains, and peaceful little fishing towns near the coast. With a population density of 209 people per square kilometer, it is one of the most highly populated US states. Apart from the metropolis of Baltimore, approximately hals of the Washington DC metropolitan are belongs to Maryland. Baltimore is Maryland’s cultural center. Some of the most famous museums in the state are in Baltimore. These include the Peale Museum (1814) with its historic collections about the state’s history, the Baltimore Museum of Art with American and European works of art, and the Walters Art Gallery with a collection of arts that ranges from ancient times up to the 19th century. Baltimore is an important center for industry and trade, it is the biggest city in Maryland with a population of 740,000 and it is also one of the most important sea ports within the US. Its economy is focused on research on development, especially pharmaceutics, medical equipment and medical services. Apart from private research laboratories, 61 federal laboratories are to be found in Baltimore. Real GDP per capita was $39,161 in 2006, placing Maryland as number 14 in the national ranking.

The Pennsylvania border marks the border between North and South

The first settlers arrived in the region on March 25, 1634. Maryland was the only Catholic colony among all the strictly Protestant British colonies in North America. The Mason-Dixon Line, which is also the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania, was drawn there in 1760 to settle a dispute between the Penn and Calvert families. Originally, the royal charter – based on an inaccurate map – had granted Maryland the Potomac River and the territory north of the 40th parallel. This would have made Philadelphia, which is Pennsylvania’s biggest city, a part of Maryland. So the ruling families in Mary land and Pennsylvania, Calvert and Penn, ordered surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to calculate a new border. The new border, which was named after the two, also became the traditional and often mentioned border between the American North and the Southern states.

The capital of the US, Washington D.C., was established in a district that had been split off Maryland for exactly that purpose. Maryland became a battlefield in 1812, when the British again tried, in a futile attempt, to regain control of the colonies. The British troops failed as they tried to destroy the shipyard and take the city of Baltimore, because the port was too well fortified. The bitter fight inspired eye witness Francis Scott Key to write the Star-Spangled Banner, which became the words to the national anthem. During the War of Secession, Maryland remained relatively neutral. When it became clear that Maryland would remain in the Union, it was not included in the Emancipation Proclamation. However, Maryland abolished slavery with its new constitution in 1864.