MD History Q&A

Click here! to view a (very brief) History of Maryland, for kids!

What is Maryland's Geography?

When was the Maryland colony founded and by whom?

When did the colonists set sail and what ships carried them to the colony?

What is a Catholic Colony?

Who were the colonists?

How did colonists make money?

Was there anyone living in the area we now call Maryland before the colonists arrived?

What is the Mason-Dixon line?

Who signed the Declaration of Independence from Maryland?

How is our National Anthem connected to Maryland? 

Did Union Troops really occupy Baltimore during the Civil War?

Who are some famous Marylanders?

What Sports are Baltimore Famous For?

 

The Basics 

State Capital:

Annapolis

Nickname:

The Old Line State

State Sport:

Jousting (Explore our Sports Ephemera Collection!)

State Song:

“Maryland, My Maryland”

State Bird:

Baltimore Oriole

State Flower:

Black-eyed Susan

State Fish:

Rockfish

State Boat:

The Skipjack (Learn about the Skipjack & oystering!)

State Insect:

Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly

State Dog:

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

State Dessert:

Smith Island Cake (Want the recipe?)

State Reptile:

Diamondback Terrapin

State Tree:

White oak

 


What is Maryland's Geography?

Maryland is divided into three landform regions: the Appalachian region, the Piedmont Plateau and the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the world, divides the state. Maryland is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east; Pennsylvania to the north; West Virginia to the west; and Virginia to the south.

Want to learn more about Maryland's geography? Check out the Historical Investigation Portal Lesson, Lord Baltimore's Geography Lesson, to learn about the five themes of geography!

 When was the Maryland colony founded and by whom?

The English first settled the colony of Maryland in 1634. King Charles I granted the land south of the 40th parallel to the Potomac River to George Calvert, Lord Baltimore. The Maryland colony was named after Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I.The 1stLord Baltimore died before settling the colony, so his son Cecilius Calvert, the 2nd Lord Baltimore, organized the expedition of colonists. His brother Leonard Calvert served as the first Governor of Maryland.  

Did you know that worms ate some of the Calvert Papers? Click here to learn about the journey these papers took!  

When did the colonists set sail and what ships carried them to the colony?

 Two small ships, the Ark and the Dove, set sail on November 22, 1633.  The Ark measured about 100 x 30 ft., and Dove about 76 x 17 ft. They carried about 140 people and all of their supplies on a 4-month voyage across the Atlantic.  The Ark was due to return to England after delivering the settlers to the colony.  The Dove, however, would remain in Maryland for the colonists to use for transportation and trade.  The colonists planned to trade with the Virginia colonists for cows, pigs and horses, so they brought other items to trade, such as cloth, sugar, spices, and other items that you could only get from England.

Check out our Virtual Field Trip Pack It Up!. During this live, interactive program students learn about the factors Colonists had to consider when packing to come to the New World by examining artifacts.  

What is a Catholic Colony?

Even though the Calverts established Maryland in order to make a profit, they also established the colony so that they could make a living without discrimination because of their Catholic faith.  All people who believe in Jesus Christ are Christians, but there are many Christian churches that hold different beliefs.  In England, the King’s religion is called the Church of England, and Catholics like Lord Baltimore were denied rights for failing to be loyal to the King’s religion.  For example, Lord Baltimore could not hold public office in England because he was a Catholic. Lord Baltimore wanted the settlers in the new colony of Maryland to be able to make a living with as much freedom as possible.  Catholics were in the minority in Maryland, and Lord Baltimore wanted to make sure that their rights were protected.  He established Maryland as a colony where people of all Christian religions could practice their faith, grow wealthy, vote, and hold public office.  Lord Baltimore enacted the law, A Law of Maryland Concerning Religion, which gave Christians who were not members of the King’s church more liberties than they would have in England or some of the other American colonies.   Charles Carroll the Settler was an Irish Catholic.  He was a well-educated student of law.  He came to Maryland from Ireland in 1688 to serve Lord Baltimore as Attorney General.

Explore our Historical Investigation Portal! Free to all Maryland Teachers, students can assign students lessons, like Religious Tolerance in Early Maryland.  

Who were the colonists?

In 1633, approximately 140 settlers left England in search of wealth, different opportunities and a better life.  Seventeen colonists were Roman Catholic gentleman; the rest were Protestant indentured servants.

What is an indentured servant? Good question! 

 An indentured servant was typically a poor, young man who signed a contract, and worked for a master for a set period of time (usually 4 to 6 years) in exchange for transportation to the colony, food, clothing, shelter, and often to learn a trade.  At the end of their period of indenture, they might receive land, money or tools and supplies to start their own farms. Many people came to Maryland as indentured servants. Maryland offered poor people the opportunity to come to the New World and eventually gain land and wealth. 

By the late 1600’s, economic conditions in England improved, and fewer people came to Maryland as indentured servants.  By the 1690s, planters found that they could earn more money if they did not have to pay laborers.  So, planters turned to slave labor. As tobacco production increased, so too did slavery.

Teachers, bring the Museum into your classroom! Our Colonial Maryland Traveling Trunk is filled with reproduction artifacts that illuminate what life was like for colonists living in colonial Maryland. 

Was there anyone living in the area we now call Maryland before the colonists arrived?

The Native Americans in Maryland were a peaceful people who welcomed the English. At the time of the founding of the Maryland colony, approximately forty tribes consisting of 8,000 – 10,000 people lived in the area.  They were fearful of the colonists’ guns, but welcomed trade for metal tools.  The Native Americans who were living in the location where the colonists first settled were called the Yaocomico Indians. The colonists gave the Yaocomico Indians cloth, hatchets, and hoes in exchange for the right to settle on the land.  The Yaocomico Indians allowed the English settlers to live in their houses, a type of longhouse called a witchott. The Indians also taught the colonists how to plant corn, beans, and squash, as well as where to find food such as clams and oysters. 

 

Looking for resources and programs about Native Americans? We offer a First Contact Virtual Field Trip, Native Americans Traveling Trunk, and multiple Historical Investigation Portal lessons!

 

How did colonists make money?

Maryland’s first industry was agriculture, and the most important cash crop was tobacco. It was very labor intensive to produce a lot of tobacco. By the 1690s, as fewer indentured servants arrived in the colony, slaves replaced the indentured servants. Wheat and corn were also very important cash crops in Maryland’s economy.

Maryland’s central location was a boon to importing and exporting goods to other colonies, as well as to Europe and Central America. A strong shipbuilding industry flourished in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.   

 

Teachers, bring your students to the Museum! Our Colonial Maryland onsite field trip helps your students understand the colonists’ economic motives for migration and the far-reaching impacts of plantation agriculture and triangular trade!

What is the Mason-Dixon line?

The boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania was surveyed by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon in 1767 to settle a land dispute between the Calvert Family of Maryland and the Penn Family of Pennsylvania. It is still called the Mason-Dixon Line and is often used to define northern and southern states.

Click here to get the full story of how Philadelphia almost ended up being a Maryland city!

Who signed the Declaration of Independence from Maryland?

Charles Carroll of Carrollton, William Paca, Samuel Chase, and Thomas Stone.

 

 How is our National Anthem connected to Maryland? 

The Star Spangled Banner, our National Anthem, was written during the War of 1812 between the young United States and Great Britain.  The United States declared war on Great Britain just 30 years after we had won our independence because Great Britain was interfering with our right to trade freely with whichever nations we chose. Despite some symbolic victories by the U.S. Navy, the U.S. did not do well in the first two years of the war.  In August 1814, the British attacked Washington, D.C. and burned the President’s House, the Capitol, and other important public buildingshen they attacked the City of Baltimore, which was a major seaport and the home of many privateers, privately owned ships with permission from the U.S. government to attack and capture British ships. 

Maryland lawyer Francis Scott Key was sent to negociate the return of an American prisoner with the British Navy. He was successful, and the American was released, but the British Navy would not allow Scott’s ship to return to shore until after the Battle of Baltimore was over. Francis Scott Key wrote the words, or lyrics, to the song that became our National Anthem as he witnesses the Bombardment of Fort McHenry while floating in the Chesapeake Bay. The words were put to music, and it quickly became very popular! The Maryland Historical Society owns that original copy of the Star Spangled Banner.

Did you know, the Star Spangled Banner was written in 1814, but didn't become our National Anthem until 1932! Our Virtual Field Trip, What Makes a Good National Anthem?, explores that question by examining other countries’ national anthems as well as the other American patriotic songs that were considered when we were choosing our national anthem. 


Did Union Troops really occupy Baltimore during the Civil War? 

On the evening of May 13, 1861, General Benjamin Butler and 1,000 Union soldiers arrived at Baltimore's Camden Street Station by train. Under the cover of a thunderstorm, they proceeded to Federal Hill and established a fortification overlooking the city. Butler was determined to secure Baltimore and ensure it remained under Union control, after the Pratt Street Riot less than a month earlier. Among the invading force were members of the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment, whose passage through Baltimore on April 19 had enraged the city’s southern sympathizers and sparked the riot.

After settling on Federal Hill, Butler sent a letter to the commander of Fort McHenry:“I have taken possession of Baltimore. My troops are on Federal Hill, which I can hold with the aid of my artillery. 

If I am attacked to-night, please open upon Monument Square with your mortars.”

The next morning, Baltimoreans awoke to Butler’s cannons aimed menacingly at the city. This began a military occupation of Baltimore that lasted the duration of the war. By fall of 1861, the Union occupiers had constructed the formidable Fort Federal Hill, whose cannons served as a constant reminder of the cost of disloyalty to the citizens of Baltimore.


Who are some famous Marylanders?

Clara Barton

Benjamin Banneker

Eubie Blake

Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Patterson  Bonaparte

John Wilkes Booth

Margaret Brent

Leonard Calvert

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

John Carroll

Ben Carson

Frederick Douglass

Barbara Fritchie

Francis Scott Key

Kitty Knight

Barry Levinson

Thurgood Marshall

George Peabody

Charles Willson Peale

Mary Pickersgill

Edgar Allan Poe

Enoch Pratt

Cal Ripken Jr.

Babe Ruth

Elizabeth Ann Seton

Roger Brooke Taney

Tench Tilghman

Harriet Tubman

 

John Waters

 

 

What Sports are Baltimore Famous For?

While jousting is the state sport, the primary sporting teams and events of Baltimore are:

Baseball – Baltimore Orioles, Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Football – Baltimore Ravens, M & T Stadium

Horseracing – Preakness Stakes, part of the Triple Crown

Baltimore has a rich sports history,  and the Maryland Historical Society houses a large sports ephemera collection. From overhead views of the 1958 All Star Game, to the Woodlawn Vase awarded to the Winner of the Preakness race; you can explore the history of Baltimore Sports online or by visiting the Maryland Historical Society! Check out our Underbelly Blog for articles that will satisfy your sports history craving, like "The World's Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum:" Memorial Stadium, Part I & II and The Negro Baseball Leagues and the Baltimore Elite Giants.

Clara Barton

Benjamin Banneker

Eubie Blake

Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Patterson  Bonaparte

John Wilkes Booth

Margaret Brent

Leonard Calvert

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

John Carroll

Ben Carson

Frederick Douglass

Barbara Fritchie

Francis Scott Key

Kitty Knight

Barry Levinson

Thurgood Marshall

George Peabody

Charles Willson Peale

Mary Pickersgill

Edgar Allan Poe

Enoch Pratt

Cal Ripken Jr.

Babe Ruth

Elizabeth Ann Seton

Roger Brooke Taney

Tench Tilghman

Harriet Tubman

 

John Waters

 

Games