History of Maryland
George Calvert, driven by his desire to create a refuge for the Catholics settling the new world, applied in 1629 to Charles I, with the intention of getting a royal charter that would help him form a new colony. The land that he was granted was to become the Province of Maryland. One of the reasons for his plea was the fact that he was aware of the tobacco farming potential of the region, as he has seen tobacco farmers in Virginia producing large quantities of the plant. He died in 1632, before his plans could come to fruition, but his son, Caecilius Calvert received the charter in the same year and proceeded with the establishing of the colony. The region gained the official name of ‘Terra Mariae,anglice, Maryland’ after Charles’ wife, Henrietta Maria of France.
The first settlers came to the area in 1634. Even though they were mostly Protestant, the majority of the officials with actual power were Catholics. There were a large number of English convicts among the first settlers of Maryland. The territory of the new colony was supposed to stretch to the north of the Potomac River, all the way up to the 40th parallel. This created a serious dispute concerning borders of their territories between the Penn and Calvert families. The disagreements eventually escalated into an armed conflict called the Cresap’s War in 1730. It started with minor skirmishes but eventually it came to Maryland deploying the military in 1736 and Pennsylvania in 1737. The conflict ended in 1738, at the insistence of King George II, but the negotiations over the exact position of the borders continued until 1760, when the borders between Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland were set to their present day locations.
Due to the fact that Virginia decided to make Anglicism the established religion, a number of Puritans from Virginia decided to move to the territory of Maryland. They were provided with some land in the area of today’s Annapolis. The settlement that they established was called Providence. These Puritan settlers started an uprising in 1650, that was meant to outlaw Anglicism and Catholicism and replace the old, proprietary government. Caecilius Calvert sent an armed force in 1654 that was meant to suppress the uprising. The battle that ensued is known as the Battle of Severn, it was fought in the vicinity of today’s Annapolis, and was convincingly won by the Puritans. Most of the Catholic churches in the region were burned to the ground during the uprising. The Calvert family didn’t regain their control over the region till 1658. However, the region came under Protestant control once again after the Glorious Revolution in England in 1688. Catholicism was once again banned in the region, and it stayed banned until the end f the American Revolutionary War. It was not uncommon for wealthier Catholics, mostly plantation owners, to build their own private chapels.
The largest site and the seat of the colonial government was St. Mary’s City. The seat of government was relocated to Providence (present day Annapolis) in 1708. The city was renamed in 1694, to honor Queen Anne. For a while most of the new settlers came to the region as indentured servants. They were paying their passage by committing to a predetermined period of labor. These settlers led pretty similar lives to slave laborers, and they often shared accommodation.
Land was still rather cheap in the state, which attracted a number of settlers, including free black families. In time, the economic and living conditions in England started improving, and the number of people willing to come to the colony as indentured laborers started significantly decreasing. This is when the need arose for more slave laborers. It was that kind of labor that formed the backbone of the region’s economy, as slaves were needed to work on the numerous tobacco plantations.
Maryland was one of the 13 colonies that started the American Revolution. It was the 13th state to ratify the Articles of Confederation in 1781, which were the basis for the new nation of the United States of America. Maryland was the 7th state to be admitted in the US. It was this state that in 1790 gave land to the federal government for the building of the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. Maryland gave land that previously belonged to Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. At this time, Virginia also denoted some land, but it was later returned to it.
It was in the War of 1812, during the bombardment of the Fort McHenry by the British forces, that Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. Slave owners in Maryland started freeing their slaves in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War. By the year 1860, some 49% of the African Americans in the state were free. It was then not surprising when the state decided to side with the Union in the American Civil War. This doesn’t mean that all of the residents of the state shared the sentiment, some 115,000 men from Maryland participated in the conflict. Approximately 77% or 85,000 of those men fought for the Union, while the rest joined the Confederate forces. The constitution of the state was ratified in the 1864 constitutional convection, and it completely outlawed slavery. Maryland returned the right to vote to the disenfranchised black males in 1867.
Maryland’s GSP in 2006 amounted to $257 billion, and the median income in 2009 was $69,272, which was the highest household income in the nation at the time. The states with the next highest incomes were New Jersey and Connecticut. Considering that, it is not surprising that Montgomery and Howard counties, located in Maryland, are the 10th and 3rd wealthiest counties in the United States. Maryland also has the lowest poverty rate in the nation, with just 7.8%. Its per capita income of $43,500 in 2006 was the 5th highest per capita income in the United States. The unemployment rate in the state is 6.6%.
A significant portion of Maryland’s economy is dependent on the tertiary services, which are in turn strongly dependent on the location. Port of Baltimore, for instance, contributes largely to the development of transportation services. In 2008, this port was the 17th busiest port in the US when it came to tonnage that went through it. The port handles all kinds of goods, but it is mostly used for the transportation of fertilizers, sugar, petroleum and iron ore. It is also the 2nd port in the nation when it comes to the number of motor vehicles that go through it.
The proximity of the Washington D.C. makes the state’s aerospace and defense industry bloom. Maryland also invests heavily in bio-research, medical research and education. The Johns Hopkins University is the largest employer in the Baltimore area.
Food sector is another significant contributor to Maryland’s economy. One of the most important branches of this sector is, without a doubt, commercial fishing, mostly focused around Chesapeake Bay. Commercial fishing in the state mostly revolves around menhaden, striped bass, oysters and blue crabs. This bay is also a well known refugee for various waterfowl, which attracts a number of tourists every year.
The state can also boast large swaths of fertile land suitable for farming. The quantity of the land used for agriculture is, however, constantly decreasing, because of the expansion of the cities in the state. Agriculture in Maryland is mainly focused around dairy farming, peas, squash, muskmelons, tomatoes, sweet corn, watermelons and cucumbers. Tobacco is still grown in the state, although not nearly as much as it once was. Tobacco is mainly grown in the southern counties of the state, which have a better climate for this crop.
Manufacturing is another important aspect of Maryland’s economy. Its total contribution to the state’s revenue is quite significant, but it is extremely diversified, with each of the sectors contributing less than 20% of the total earnings. Primary metals sector was the dominant one in the state, with the Sparrows Point factory, which was the world’s largest steel factory at the time, but since the factory has gone through several bankruptcies and mergers, chemical, computer equipment and electronics sectors became the dominant ones in the state. Mining in Maryland is primarily focused around coal and construction materials.
The state has more than 400 companies dealing with biotechnological research and production, which makes Maryland the 4th most important state in the nation when it comes to research of that kind. Some of the institutions with interests in this field are MedImmune, J. Craig Venter Institute, Human Genome Sciences, Celera Genomics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the federal Food and Drug Administration, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Institutes of Health, the United States Census Bureau, Goddard Space Flight Center, University System of Maryland, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and Johns Hopkins University.
Personal income tax in Maryland comes in one of five brackets, ranging from 6.25% down to 2%. Some of the counties and the city of Baltimore have local tax additions. These additions are usually set by the officials of the local government and can range from 1.25% to 3.2%. This makes the highest tax bracket of 9.45% the 5th highest tax in the United States, just after 11.35% in New York, 10.3% in California, 9.9% in Rhode Island and 9.5% in Vermont. The sales tax in the state is fixed at 6%. Real property is taxed, unless it is owned by the local, state or federal government, or used by educational, charitable or religious organizations. The property taxes are set by the local governments, which are in no way limited by the state government when it comes to fixing the rates.
Maryland Geography and Climate
Maryland covers the surface of 12,406 square miles, which makes it the 9th smallest state in the nation. West Virginia, which is the next largest state, is almost twice as large as Maryland. The state owes it nickname of ‘America in Miniature’ to its diverse topography. It has vast pine forests in the mountainous west, Piedmont Region is characterized by the rolling hills covered in oak forests, the bay area is full of marshlands and glades of bold cypress, while the eastern parts of the state mostly consists of patches of seagrass and sand dunes.
Maryland has Virginia and West Virginia on the south, the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware on the east, West Virginia on the west and Pennsylvania on the north. The Chesapeake Bay almost cuts the state in half, and all of the counties to the east of them are called the Eastern Shore. The great majority of waterways in Maryland belong to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, apart from some in the Garret County, which belong to the Mississippi watershed. The bay is such an important part of Maryland’s geography and economy that every once in a while, an initiative is taken by the state’s residents to change the state’s official nickname into the ‘Bay State’. The point with the highest elevation in Maryland is Hoye Crest, located on the Backbone Mountain at 3,360 feet above the sea level.
Maryland belongs to a number of different regions. Its western counties belong to the Appalachian region, while its Eastern Shore counties are a part of the Delmarva Peninsula, along with some Virginia counties and the entire Delaware.One of the interesting aspects of Maryland’s geography is the fact that the state has no natural lakes. This is caused by the fact that the glaciers didn’t reach the region during the Ice Age, and they didn’t get the chance to create the trenches that would later develop into the lakes. This has also left a mark on the soil in the state, which is muddier and sandier than the soil in the states to the north and northeast of Maryland that the glaciers did reach. The state does have some artificial lakes, the largest of which is the Deep Creek Lake in the western part of the state, in the Garrett County.
Maryland’s topological diversity is responsible for a number of different climates that are present in the state. The eastern portion of the state is located in the Atlantic Coastal Plain, and it is characterized by the muddy and sandy soil and flat terrain. The dominant climate in this region is humid subtropical. This type of climate comes with mild and usually short winters and humid and hot summers. The prominent cities in this region are parts of Baltimore, Ocean City, Annapolis and Salisbury.The Piedmont Region is located in the transitions between the subtropical highland zone and the humid subtropical zone. Its climate is characterized by cool winters with more than 20 inches of annual snowfall with temperatures that often drop bellow 10°F, and humid and hot summers. Western and northern parts of Baltimore belong to this region, as well as Gaithersburg, Westminster, Hagerstown and Frederick.
The western regions of the state, including the Garret County and the Alleghany County, have a greater elevation than the rest of Maryland, and, naturally, this has great influence on the climate in the region. The climate in this part of the state is described as humid continental, with cool winters with significant amounts of snowfall and mild summers.Maryland generally gets 35 to 45 inches of annual rainfall, with the figures being somewhat higher in the regions at higher altitudes. Annual snowfall in the state is much more diverse, going form as much as 100 inches in the mountainous regions to as low as 9 inches in the eastern, coastal regions. The highest temperature in the state of 109 °F was recorded in 1936, in both Frederick and Cumberland, while the lowest temperature of −40 °F was recorded in 1912 at Oakland.
Population of Maryland
In 2011 the population of Maryland was estimated at 5,828,289 people, which presented an increase of 0.95% when compared to the previous year. In 2006, Maryland had 5,615,727 residents, which was an increase of 0.5% or 26,128 people when compared to the previous year or 6% or 319,221people when compared to the year 2000. The increase between the years 2005 and 2006 was a result of 275,093 deaths and 464,251 births that combined into a natural increase of 189,158 people, and the net migrations that brought 116,713 people to Maryland. It is believed that some 4% of the population is composed of illegal immigrants.
When it comes to ethnicity it is estimated that some 54.7% of the state’s population is composed of non-Hispanic white people, 0.5% of Hispanic white, 29.4% of African American people and 5.5% of Asian people. The largest ancestry groups in the state are divided as follows: 15.7% of the people claim German ancestry, 11.7% Irish, 9% English, 5.8% American and 5.1% Italian. When it comes to religion, 83% of the state’s population belongs to some of the Christian denominations, with 23% of Roman Catholics, 3% of the members of some of the other Christian denominations and 56% being Protestants, who are further subdivided into 18% Baptists, 11% Methodists, 6% Lutherans and 21% of adherents of some other Protestant denomination. Apart from them, there are 4% of Jewish people, 1% of Muslim people, 1% of people belonging to some other religion and 11% of non religious people.
Maryland Government and Legislation
Maryland’s government has three branches, executive, legislative and judicial branch. The executive branch is in charge of seeing that the laws passed by the legislative branch are carried out. The head of the executive branch is the state’s Governor, with Lieutenant Governor being the next official in line. One of the duties of the Lieutenant Governor is to perform the Governor’s duties if he or she is left unable to perform them. Like most of the state’s officials they are elected in the even numbered years that can’t be divided by four. This is organized in that way in order to remove the state elections from the federal, presidential elections. One of the things that are special about Maryland’s executive branch is that the Governor has significant influence over state budgeting.
The legislative branch operates through the General Assembly. The General Assemblies of all states except Nebraska consist of two bodies. In Maryland these two bodies are the upper house, the Maryland Senate, and the lower, Maryland’s House of Delegates. They are responsible for proposing and adopting or declining new laws. Both houses need to pass a bill before it is adopted as a law. Even if they pass a law, the state’s Governor has the power to place a veto on it, but the houses can overturn his veto with a two third majority of votes.
The state’s judicial branch consists of a number of courts with different types of jurisdiction and responsibilities. The highest court in the state is the Court of Appeals. This court usually deals with the cases that are relegated to it from other, lower courts, although there are instances in which it has original jurisdiction. Court of Special Appeals is the next in line, with the District Court and 24 Circuit Courts at the bottom of the hierarchy. Each of the counties has its own District and Circuit courts, as does the city of Baltimore.