STATE OF MARYLAND FACTS
Maryland has been called “America in Miniature” because so much is packed into its 10,460 square miles of land and water. You can find just about any kind of natural feature here, except a desert. That’s because water is almost everywhere in Maryland. Maryland is home to the first railroad, the first dental school and the first umbrella factory. And Maryland inventors gave us the gas light, the linotype machine and the refrigerator.
The Baltimore Oriole was officially named the Maryland State Bird in 1947. However, 65 years earlier, the General Assembly had passed legislation giving the species special protection. The oriole bears the name of Lord Baltimore, Maryland’s founder and the colors of the Calvert Shield, yellow and black.
One of the oldest and most distinctive state flags in America, Maryland’s brightly colored standard was adopted as the Maryland State Flag in 1904. The design is taken from the “escutcheon” or “shield” in the first Lord Baltimore’s Seal, dating from the 1630’s. Black and gold quarters are the arms of Lord Baltimore’s family, the Calverts. Red and white quarters are those of his mother’s family, the Crosslands.
Blooming around the Fourth of July and dotting the hillsides and meadows all over the state, the Black-Eyed Susan reproduces the Maryland colors, black and gold. The blossoms have 13 petals, the same number as the original colonies, of which Maryland is one. It was legally adopted as the State Flower in 1918.
Second in popularity only to “Dixie” in the South during the Civil War, “Maryland, My Maryland” was written by a 22 year-old schoolteacher. Excited by a story of the passage of Union troops through the city of Baltimore, he composed a bitter poem and published it in a New Orleans newspaper. It is set to the traditional tune of (O, Tannenbaum). Maryland officially adopted it as the State Song in 1939.
THE GREAT SEAL OF MARYLAND
Used by the Governor and Secretary of State to authenticate official documents, the original Great Seal was brought to America in colonial days. Both sides are used for various purposes, including decoration of public buildings and authenticating acts of the legislature. The reverse side shows Lord Baltimore’s “escutcheon” or “shield,” with figures of a farmer and a fisherman. The Italian scroll reads, “Manly deeds, womanly words.” The border is “With favor wilt thou compass us as with a shield” (Psalms V, 12). The reverse side shows Lord Baltimore armed and mounted.
The famous Wye Oak at Wye Mills on the Eastern Shore is more than 100 feet high with a branch spread of 165 feet. The tree is more than 450 years old, and is the National Champion White Oak and has been Maryland’s official State Tree since 1919.