This guest post about Maryland is from Kym who blogs at Homeschool Coffee Break.

Even though I am not a native Marylander, I’ve come to love and appreciate the Old Line State as my home in the years that we’ve lived here.  Before becoming familiar with the state, the only thing I associated with it was the city of Baltimore, but there’s a lot more to Maryland.  I’m delighted to be able to share a little bit of what I’ve discovered about our state so far.

St. Mary’s City was the fourth permanent British settlement in North America, and is rather special because one of its founding tenets was religious tolerance.The Protestant King of England, Charles I, granted a charter in 1632 to the Catholic Baron of Baltimore, Cecil Calvert.  His son led the colonization effort starting in 1634, and despite the family being staunch Catholics, their policy for the new colony was that it would have no official established religion.  The first colonists were about half Catholic and half Protestant. The Maryland Toleration Act, issued in 1649, is considered a precursor to the First Amendment. Modern visitors to Historic St Mary’s City can experience colony life in an extensive living history village that includes a working print house, an ordinary (apothecary), general shop, tobacco plantation, state house, and chapel.  At the dock, there is also a replica of the Dove, the ship that carried some of the first settlers.  We’ve visited this historic site several times, and especially enjoy the Homeschool Days that are offered.  There are lots of hands-on activities that even young children can enjoy.


A little further north is the state capital of Annapolis, which has been the seat of the state’s government since 1694. Our State House is the only one to have once served as the nation’s capital, from 1783 to 1784.  It was in the original Senate chamber that General Washington gave his resignation as Commander of the Continental Army, and is also where the US Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris, ending the American Revolutionary War.

And now, let’s visit Baltimore! Tourists usually want to visit the Inner Harbor and the attractions there.  The National Aquarium is certainly worth a look, as is the Maryland Science Center.  Sports fans will also want to catch a baseball game at Camden Yards.  

As for history in Baltimore, there’s plenty of that as well, and our favorite site is Fort McHenry.  During the War of 1812, the British conducted raids all along the Chesapeake Bay, and Washington DC and Baltimore were both targeted. At Fort McHenry, about 1000 soldiers awaited a British naval bombardment. For 25 hours, the fort was under mortar and rocket fire from British ships just out of reach of the fort’s cannons.  In the early morning hours of September 14, an oversized American flag was raised above the fort, and the British knew their attack had failed. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer from the city of Frederick, was on a British ship negotiating the release of a prisoner and saw the flag raised.  This inspired him to write the words to what is now our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. Francis Scott Key is honored in our state with highways, schools, bridges, and even a mall named for him.  In my local area, there are two small villages named for him - Keymar and Keysville - and in Frederick, the Baltimore Orioles affiliate baseball team is named the Keys.  

Baltimore is also home to the B & O Railroad Museum, appropriate since the first passenger rail service in the US opened between Baltimore and Ellicott City in 1839.  It proved formidable competition for the C & O Canal and the National Road.  Our family has enjoyed a few visits to the C & O Canal National Historical Park, and I recommend it highly!

As one of the border states between slave and free states, Maryland had divided loyalties, but remained with the Union during the Civil War. Several battles were fought on Maryland soil, and Baltimore was the site of the first bloodshed during the conflict. The most significant battle fought in the state was Antietam, near Sharpsburg. Tactically, this battle was a draw, but strategically it was a Union victory, and marked a turning point in the war.  Another lesser known battle was fought at Monocacy.  Union troops were eventually defeated in that battle, but because they fought valiantly and delayed the Confederate troops in their march towards the nation’s capitol, this became known as ‘The Battle that Saved Washington, DC’.  The National Park Service has designated both Antietam and Monocacy as National Battlefields, and each has excellent interpretive centers.  As the troops from both sides marched through Maryland on the way to sites such as Harpers Ferry and Gettysburg, there are historical markers throughout the area describing the action.

Many folks, myself included, are initially surprised to find wild spaces, forests and mountains in Maryland.  The Catoctin Mountain Park in west central Maryland is a beautiful place to hike and to camp, and even further west, the Deep Creek area is home to the ski resort Wisp and offers spectacular mountain scenery.  This is Swallow Falls - a beautiful state park in Maryland.

Kym and her family have called Maryland home for over 15 years. They have been homeschooling their four children through all those years. Kym loves coffee, history, and homeschooling, and you can join her for coffee break at her blog, Homeschool Coffee Break.

50 states blog posts

No comments:

Post a Comment

comments from friends: