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Maryland ( MERR[email protected]) is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It shares borders with Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware and the Atlantic Ocean to its east. The capital of the state is Annapolis, while Baltimore is the largest. It is also known by various nicknames, such as Old Line State and Free State. It was named after Henrietta Maria (French-born Queen of England and Scotland) who was then known in England as Mary.
Maryland was home to several Native Americans before Europeans explored its coast in the 16th Century. These included the Algonquin and, to a lesser extent, the Siouian and Iroquois. Maryland is one of the original Thirteen Colonies in England. It was founded by George Calvert 1st Baron Baltimore. He was a Catholic convert and sought to provide a religious sanctuary for Catholics persecuted abroad. He also named the colony Henrietta Maria. In contrast to the Pilgrims or Puritans who were against Catholicism in their settlements of the Pilgrims and Puritans in England, Lord Baltimore imagined a colony where people from different religions could coexist under the principle. The Act Concerning Religion was passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 1649. It penalized anyone who “reproached” another Marylander on the basis of religious affiliation. However, religious strife was prevalent in the early years and Catholics remained a minority in Maryland, even though they were more numerous than in any other English colony.
Maryland’s early settlements and population centers clustered around rivers and other waterways that empty into the Chesapeake Bay. Its economy was heavily plantation-based and centered mostly on the cultivation of tobacco. Great Britain’s need to have cheap labor led it to an increase in indentured servants and penal labor as well as African slaves. Maryland’s current borders were established in 1760 after a long-running border dispute was settled with Pennsylvania. Maryland was a participant in the events that led to the American Revolution. In 1776, its delegate signed the Declaration of Independence. Many of its citizens subsequently played key political and military roles in the war. In 1790, the state ceded land for the establishment of the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C.