Maryland Capital

The settlers of Maryland were not all Roman Catholics, however, for Puritan refugees came in there. Above the Patuxent is the estuary of the Severn River, and here, in a beautiful situation, is Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, which has about eight thousand inhabitants, and was originally colonized in 1649 by Puritans driven from the James River in Virginia by the Episcopalians in control there. The settlement was at first called Providence, and Richard Preston, the eminent Quaker, was long its commander. Afterwards it was named Anne Arundel Town, after Lady Baltimore, which still is the name of its county, although the town came to be finally known as Annapolis, from Queen Anne, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, who gave it valuable presents. It is now best known as the seat of the United States Naval Academy, which has a fine establishment there, founded by George Bancroft, the historian, when he was Secretary of the Navy, in 1845. Its ancient defensive work, Fort Severn, has been roofed over, and is the Academy gymnasium. The city was made the capital of Maryland in 1794, the government being then removed from St. Mary’s, and the State Capitol is a massive brick structure, standing on an eminence, with a lofty dome and cupola, from which there is a fine view of the surrounding country and over Chesapeake Bay. In the Senate Chamber General Washington surrendered his Commission to the American Colonial Congress which met there in December, 1783, and in it also assembled the first Constitutional Convention of the United States, in 1786. In front of the building is a colossal statue of Chief Justice Taney, of the Supreme Court of the United States, a native of Maryland, who died in 1864. Annapolis formerly had an extensive commerce and amassed much wealth, until eclipsed by the growth of Baltimore, and now its chief trade, like so many of the towns of the Chesapeake, is in oysters.