Would you like someone in your family to name a state after you?
Maryland was named after Queen Henrietta Maria. She was married to King Charles I who was the King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1600 to 1649. Under his reign, Maryland became a British colony.
Maryland is considered part of the southern states. Click here to find out why. Do you know where the state is located on a US map? It shares a border with Pennsylvania to the north, Delaware and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Atlantic Ocean and Virginia to the south, and West Virginia to the west.
The state can be divided into five geographical regions:
- The Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain: This low area across the southern and eastern parts of the state contains marshes, fertile farmland, and the Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, a forested wetland.
- Piedmont: This area in the northeast features low hills, ridges, valleys and streams.
- Blue Ridge: West of Piedmont is this narrow, mountainous region. Its trees have a bluish haze when seen from a distance.
- Appalachian Ridge and Valley: This strip of land in the north is mostly forested, but also contains farmland and steep ridges.
- Appalachian Plateau: Covering the northwestern corner, it’s home to the Allegheny Mountains and Maryland’s highest point, which is Backbone Mountain.
What really happened
- The first people to live here arrived at least 13,000 years ago, possibly even as far back as 21,000 years ago. Archaeologists (those who study people from ancient times as well as the items and tools they used) know this because they’ve found arrowheads, beads, and other ancient items in and around the state’s Chesapeake Bay. The Lenape, Nanticoke, Powhatan and other Native American tribes lived in the region.
- In 1608, Captain John Smith was the first European to arrive, discovering Chesapeake Bay. The area became home to a fur trading post, which was established on Kent Island in 1631.
- In 1632, the colony of Maryland was founded and established by Sir George Calvert from England, who was known as Lord Baltimore. British rule ended after Maryland signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
- The first settlers to Maryland started their journey in 1633 from the Isle of Wight (an island off the southern coast of England). They traveled aboard two ships, the Ark and the Dove. The group set foot on St. Clement Island on March 25, 1634, which is celebrated as “Maryland Day” every year.
- After the Revolutionary War ended in 1783 (the 13 colonies won the war against Great Britain), the city of Annapolis temporarily became the new country’s capital.
- Maryland joined the Union in 1788, becoming the seventh US state.
- In 1790, the state gave up part of its land to create Washington, DC, the location of the nation’s capital.
- The “Star Spangled Banner”, the American national anthem, was written by Francis Scott Key in 1814. He was a lawyer from Maryland. According to legend, he wrote the song while watching an attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor.
- Slavery in Maryland lasted for about 200 years, beginning in 1642 and ending after the Civil War. During the 1800s, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman were born into slavery in Maryland. Douglass escaped and became a famous speaker, author and activist against slavery. Tubman also escaped, but returned to help 70 slaves escape to freedom using the Underground Railroad.
Stuff you should know
- The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the country. An estuary is a semi-enclosed body of water; or the location of where the tide meets the stream. The Chesapeake Bay also contains a mix of both saltwater and freshwater.
- More than 300 wild ponies live on a 37-mile barrier island called Assateague Island, which sits along the coasts of both Maryland and Virginia.
- In 1844, Samuel F.B. Morse showed members of Congress how the telegraph worked. He sent a 19-letter telegram from Washington, D.C. to his assistant in the city of Baltimore, which was more than 40 miles away. It was the first long-distance telegram that also introduced new communication technology.
- Clara Barton established the American branch of the Red Cross in 1881, which protected soldiers and civilians injured in war zones. She spent the last fifteen years of her life in the tiny town of Glen Echo.
Funny, crazy or just plain weird
- Would you like to live in a small town named Boring? What about one called Accident? Both of these are real towns in Maryland!
- In 1813, residents of the town of Saint Michaels were warned of a British attack. So, they got creative: they placed lanterns high up in the air, on the masts of ships and on the tops of the trees. The height of light caused British cannons to overshoot the town. Only one house was struck. Since then, Saint Michaels has been known as the town that fooled the British.
- Unlike judges in other states who wear black robes, only judges in the Maryland Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court) wear red or scarlet robes. The reason can be traced back to England. During the 14th century, judges in England and Wales wore a variety of colorful robes that changed with the seasons. In the early 1900s, a Maryland judge suggested their robes be returned to scarlet.
Tell me more
- One of Maryland’s nicknames is “The Free State”. It was given in 1919 after Congress passed a law to prohibit the sale and use of alcohol. Residents believed it violated their freedom. Another state nickname is “Little America” because it features all types of terrain; everything from mountains and farmland to forests, beaches and even sand dunes.
- The Maryland Gazette has been in print since 1727, making it the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States.
- The refrigerator was invented in this state. Well, sort of. In 1803, Thomas Moore designed the ice box to transport butter from his farm in Maryland to Washington, D.C.
- In 1784, thirteen-year-old Edward Warren became the first American to ride in a hot-air balloon.
- The Maryland State House is the oldest state capitol building that has been continuously used by the state legislature. It’s also the only state house ever to have served as the nation’s capitol building (from November 1783 to August 1784).
Do you enjoy telling kids stories? Whether you live in Maryland or have ever visited the state, please share your story with us about its land, people or culture. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org along with your first name, age and state you live in and we’ll post it on Mo’s social media pages!