MARYLAND is one of the thirteen American states, which, after the close of the revolutionary war, became parties to the compact whereby they were united into one great national family. It is usually designated as the southernmost of the Middle States, lying on the Atlantic coast; it extends from 38° to 39° 44' north latitude, and between 75° 10' and 79° 20' west longitude ; and its superficial area, of which about one fifth is water, is estimated as being 9,356 square miles. The present boundaries of the state are as follows: north by Pennsylvania, east by Delaware and the Atlantic Ocean, south and west by Virginia, from which it is divided by the River Potomac. Its form is extremely irregular. Chesapeake Bay, passing through the state from north to south, near its centre, separates it into two sections, which are known respectively as the Eastern Shore and the Western Shore.
It is generally understood that Maryland was comprised in the sweeping grant to the Virginia Company, prior to the year 1632; but. in June of that year, the whole tract now constituting the state was conveyed by patent from Charles I. to George Calvert, Lord Baltimore; when, out of compliment to the then queen, Henrietta Maria, the colony was named Maryland. The earliest settlement was effected by some 200 Catholics of high respectability, under Leonard Calvert, son of the original grantee, at a spot occupied as an Indian village, on the north side of the Potomac. The generous offer, by the proprietor, of 50 acres of land in fee to every permanent settler, and the adoption of a form of government upon liberal and humane principles, similar to those contained in the wise model furnished by Roger Williams, and afterwards enlarged upon by William Penn, soon attracted large numbers of valuable emigrants. Under this judicious policy, freely admitting associates from all countries, and assuring the enjoyment of equal privileges, including the utmost toleration of all Christian denominations, the colony rapidly increased in population, and continued to flourish, with some few interruptions, until the year 1652. Parliament then took forcible possession, and undertook to administer the affairs of the province through the agency of commissioners. But within ten years thereafter, the government reverted to the successors of Lord Baltimore. The first regularly arranged constitution was framed in 1650, two years prior to the act of Parliament above mentioned; its provisions contemplated a partition of the legislature, then composed of one body, into two branches, and a division of the territory into three distinct counties. At the outbreak, and during the continuance, of the war of the revolution, the men of Maryland were not behind their fellow-countrymen in patriotic efforts to secure the independence of the nation. In 1776, their first republican constitution was established, and the state formally joined the confederation in 1781. It adopted the constitution of the United States, at a convention held in April, 1788, by a vote of 63 to 12. A new state constitution was formed in 1851.
Government. — By the state constitution in force at the date of this article, the governor is elected triennially by a plurality of the popular vote, and is ineligible for the next succeeding term. He is selected in turn from each of the three gubernatorial districts into which the state is divided. The legislature consists of a Senate and House of Delegates; the former, 21 in number, chosen (one third every second year) by the counties and by the city of Baltimore, to serve six years. Members of the House of Delegates are elected for two years, from the counties, in proportion to population, the city of Baltimore being entitled to a number equal to that chosen by the largest county. This body may act as a grand jury. In case of vacancy in the office of governor, the executive functions are exercised, first, by the secretary of state; next, by the president of the Senate; and, lastly, by the speaker of the house ; or, if in session, the General Assembly may forthwith fill the vacancy by joint ballot; and in like manner at the next session, should the vacancy occur during a recess. Any bill to abolish slavery must unanimously pass both houses, be published three months prior to the ensuing election of delegates, and, at the following session, again pass unanimously: it shall also provide for a full compensation of the slave owners. No gift or devise of property to clergymen is valid without consent of the legislature, excepting land for a church or cemetery, not to exceed two acres. All civil officers must declare their belief in the Christian religion. The right of suffrage is extended to all free white males, after twelve months' residence in the state, and six months in the county wherein they vote.
Judiciary. — There are six judicial districts in the state, composed respectively of two, three, or four counties. Each has a chief judge and two assistants. The city and county of Baltimore constitute one of these districts. The justices of each district preside over the several County Courts, which are the common courts of original jurisdiction in the state. There is a State Court of Appeals, including the chief judges of the six districts; and a Court of Chancery, comprising chancellor, register, and auditor.
Education. — The common school system, so deeply cherished in the Northern and Eastern States, has not yet attained a very great measure of public favor in Maryland. The schools, throughout the state, supported at public cost, do not, in the aggregate, contain so large a number of pupils as are contained in the common schools of the single city of Boston; and the whole state expenditure for educational purposes, including all that is applied for the support of colleges and academies, as well as for that of grammar and primary schools, does not exceed one half the amount expended by the same city upon the two latter grades of seminaries alone. Yet there are numerous private institutions of learning, some of great merit, and generally well sustained: among them are several Catholic colleges, and similar exclusive establishments. The number of white persons upwards of 20 years of age, in this state, at the census of 1850, who could neither read nor write, was upwards of ten thousand.
Finances. — The net amount of the public debt in December, 1849, was somewhat over $10,500,000, the interest on which is annually met by means of taxation. Provision has been made for the gradual reduction of this debt, through the operation of a sinking fund, and other resources. The nominal liabilities of the state, at the above date, reached nearly $16,000,000; to meet which it had productive assets valued at about $5,300,000, and unproductive property estimated at near $15,500,000. The expenditures for the year ending December 1, 1849,were $1,146,492.16; and the income, from all sources, including the direct tax, amounted to
Surface, Soil, &tc. — The Eastern Shore of Maryland presents, in general, a low and flat surface, with frequent marshy tracts and stagnant ponds. The soil in this region, though not remarkably fertile, produces wheat of peculiar whiteness and excellence; also Indian corn, tobacco, sweet potatoes, and most of the ordinary descriptions of vegetables. The western section of the state is more elevated and protuberant, gradually rising towards the north-west, and becoming at that point quite mountainous, being crossed by a part of the Alleghany chain, reaching from Pennsylvania to Virginia. The land in the valleys between these eminences is of superior quality ; and that of the entire section, indeed, is highly productive. The soil is composed mostly of a heavy red loam. The staple products are tobacco and wheat; but cotton, hemp, and flax are also raised in large quantities. Fruits of the finest kinds are abundant, particularly apples, pears, and the choicest varieties of stone fruit. The woodlands contain much valuable timber, and abound with nut-trees, the fruit of which affords subsistence to multitudes of swine. There are many tracts which furnish fine pasturage for cattle and sheep; and in addition to beef, mutton, wool, and the products of the dairy, vast quantities of poultry are raised in all parts of the state.
Rivers. — The Potomac, forming the boundary between this state and Virginia ; the Susquehanna, flowing through Pennsylvania, and emptying into the northerly extremity of Chesapeake Bay; the Patapsco, and Patuxent, both navigable, and affording good water power, are among the principal streams immediately connected with the trade and commerce of Maryland. There are also several smaller rivers running into the eastern margin of Chesapeake Bay.
Internal Improvements. — Among the most important public works in the country are two which owe their origin to Maryland, viz., the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. They were both commenced in 1828; and by their aid the markets of the world may be readily supplied with the treasures of the immense coal regions in the west. A part of the chain of railroads, extending through most of the Atlantic states, crosses Maryland, taking Baltimore in its course. Other railroads, of considerable extent, diverge from Baltimore, Frenchtown, &c. A commodious canal, connecting the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, 42 miles in length, was completed in 1829, at a cost of $2,750,000.
Minerals. — Copperas and chrome ores, red and yellow ochres, sulphuret of copper, alum earth, and porcelain clay are found in considerable quantities, chiefly in the eastern and northeastern parts of the state. Iron ore abounds in various localities; and the bog ore obtained in the southern quarter of the Eastern Shore is wrought to much advantage. But by far the most valuable mineral product of Maryland is the bituminous coal, of which there are exhaustless beds in the mountainous region near the western border of the state. One tract, in the vicinity of Cumberland, Alleghany county, is said to comprise an area of 400 square miles, the veins measuring from 5 to 15 feet in thickness; another, lying west of the Alleghany ridge, contains beds some 20 feet in depth.
Manufactures. — Wool, cotton, hemp, and iron are manufactured in many parts of the state. There are also numerous tanneries, chandleries, breweries, distilleries, potteries, paper mills, powder mills, &c.; and a very large amount of capital is invested in the business of manufacturing wheat flour.
Indians. — There are no organized tribes of the red races now extant in Maryland.
Population. — During the last sixty years, the average increase of population in this state does not seem to have exceeded one per cent, per annum. Nearly one fifth of the inhabitants are slaves.
Climate. — The elevated country of the Western Shore is blest with a delightful and salubrious climate ; but in the low and moist lands of the opposite section, especially in summer and autumn, where the atmosphere is so often loaded with deleterious vapors exhaled from stagnant pools and unreclaimed marshes, the climate is decidedly unhealthy. This may be inferred even from the personal appearance of the people, who are subject, periodically, to severe agues, intermittent fevers, &c.
Religion.—The descendants of the original settlers, like their progenitors, are Roman Catholics, and probably constitute the most numerous of the several Christian denominations within the state. The next in numerical order are the Episcopalians; then follow Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, German Reformers, and Lutherans; also a small number of Quakers and Unitarians.