Maryland History Timeline

By | May 12, 2022

For centuries, American Indians have inhabited this land called Maryland. Most of those Indians belonged to a large family of tribes known as the Algonquins, who lived peacefully along the Chesapeake Bay; fishing and hunting and trading with their neighbors on the Atlantic coastline.

In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian explorer sailing under the French flag, explored the east coast of North America and is considered the first European to visit the Chesapeake Bay area. In the late 17th century, Captain John Smith explored the Chesapeake Bay. In recent years, William Claiborne, a wealthy English merchant from the colony of Virginia , established the first English settlement here.

In 1629 George Calvert, an English politician, applied to King Charles for a royal charter of land in this new world. Calvert died suddenly in 1632, but his son, Cecil Calvert (Lord Baltimore) was later granted that charter, and the new colony was named Maryland in honor of Queen Consort Charles I.

Cecil Calvert remained in England, but his brother, Leonard Calvert, sailed across the Atlantic in November 1633; his ships carried on board several hundred brave souls who came ashore at St. Clement’s Island in the Potomac River, and a new colony was born.

Like the original internal settlements of Annapolis and St. Mary struggled to survive, English colonists continued to arrive in Maryland, most as indentured servants. Baltimore, named after Cecil Calvert, soon emerged as a viable and vital seaport, and the colony began to prosper. Subsequently, African slaves were imported to work in the areas of the growing tobacco industry.

An ongoing dispute between the Penn family of Pennsylvania and the Calvert family of Maryland over the border between the two colonies finally broke out in war in 1730. After years of violent and bloody conflicts, King George II of England negotiated a truce in 1738. Shortly thereafter, the English inspectors, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, delineated the official boundary, and this is the original property dispute, the Mason-Dixon Line, would later become a symbolic dividing line between Northern and Southern states during the American Civil War.

In the 1770s, trade restrictions and high taxes (the Stamp Act) imposed by the Parliament of England and King George did not sit well with the citizens and merchants of Maryland, and for that matter, in all of the original thirteen colonies. Although initially opposed to independence from Britain, it was Maryland that suggested that representatives from each colony meet in Philadelphia to find a solution. In 1774 that meeting, or the First Continental Congress, happened, and the Revolutionary War was just around the corner.

In June 1776, a committee of the Second Continental Congress, consisting of John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut (the “Committee of Five”) was formed to draft a declaration of independence from Great Britain. Church bells sounded across Philadelphia on July 4, 1776….signaling that the Declaration of Independence was approved and formally accepted and signed at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.

That War of Independence¬†was successful on many fronts, and Maryland certainly played its part. In 1787 the American constitution was drafted and signed and Maryland became the 7th state to join the new country with Annapolis as its capital. In 1791 Washington DC, designed by French architect Major Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, was created from land donated by Maryland and Virginia and became the nation’s permanent capital.

Maryland timeline

1400s – 1500s

  • (1498) John Cabot sailed the east coast near (present day) Worcester County
  • (1524) Giovanni da Verrazano led the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay
  • (1572) Chesapeake Bay explored by Pedro Menendez de Aviles, Spanish governor of Florida


  • (1608) Captain John Smith explored the Chesapeake Bay
  • (1631) William Claiborne established Kent Island trading post, farm settlement
  • (1632) King Charles I of Great Britain granted the Charter of Maryland to Ciacilius Calvert; colony called Maryland for Queen Henrietta Maria
  • (1634) English settlers land at St. Clement’s Island, city of Mary’s founded
  • (1634 – 1635) Meeting of the First General Assembly held in the City of Mary
  • (1645) Richard Ingle led a rebellion against proprietary government (Ingle’s Rebellion)
  • (1649) Virginia Puritans, invited by Governor Stone to settle in Maryland; all Maryland Christians granted religious freedom by the Religious Tolerance Act
  • (1664) Act passed slavery permission for life
  • (1692) William and Mary declared Maryland to be a royal colony; Sir Lionel Copley appointed Governor
  • (1695) Annapolis became the capital of Maryland


  • (1729) Baltimore founded
  • (1744) Six Chiefs of Nations abandoned all claims to Indian lands in colony; Assembly bought final Indian land claims
  • (1750) First export trade of flour sent to Ireland from Baltimore
  • (1763 – 1767) Charles Mason, Jeremiah Dixon considered the border with Pennsylvania; Mason-Dixon line, established as Maryland’s northern border
  • (1765) Opposition to the Stamp Act took place in Frederick
  • (1766) Sons of Liberty organized
  • (1769) Policy of no import of British goods established by Maryland merchants
  • (1774) Mob burns Peggy Stewart’s ship loaded with tea in Annapolis harbor; Maryland chooses delegates to the Continental Congress
  • (1776) Declaration of Independence adopted, four Marylanders signed; The Maryland Agreement declared independence from Great Britain ; Maryland soldiers fought in the Battle of Long Island; Maryland Declaration of Rights adopted; First state constitution adopted
  • (1777) First General Assembly of the State Council met at Annapolis; Thomas Johnson first governor
  • (1783) Annapolis named national capital
  • (1784) Congress at Annapolis ratified Treaty of Paris, ended Revolutionary War
  • (1788) Maryland became the seventh American state
  • (1791) Maryland donated land for new capital in Washington, C.
  • (1796) Act passed prohibition import of slaves for sale; permitted voluntary emancipation


  • (1813) First steamboat, Chesapeake, appeared in Chesapeake Bay; British raided Havre da Grace,
  • (1814) Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner” during the British attack on Fort McHenry
  • (1828) Construction started on the nation’s first railroad – Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
  • (1829) Chesapeake and Delaware Open Channel, linked the Chesapeake Bay to the Delaware River
  • (1844) Samuel F. B. Morse demonstrated the world’s first telegraph line from Washington, C. to Baltimore
  • (1845) American Naval Academy founded at Annapolis
  • (1849) Harriet Tubman escaped slavery; started saving other slaves
  • (1861) The first bloodshed of the Civil War took place in Baltimore; federal troops occupied Annapolis; Union forces occupied Baltimore
  • (1862) Confederate cavalry entered Cumberland; Battle of South Mountain – Allied troops forced the Allies off Crampton and Turner’s Gap; Allies defeated at Antietam – deadliest battle of the civil war, 4,800 dead, 18,000 wounded
  • (1863) Lee’s army passed through Maryland enroute to Gettysburg
  • (1864) Hagerstown and Frederick held for ransom by the Allies; Maryland abolished slavery
  • (1865) Marylander, John Wilkes Booth, assassinated President Abraham Lincoln
  • (1876) Johns Hopkins University founded
  • (1877) Baltimore and stricken Ohil Railroad workers demonstrated in Cumberland rioted in Baltimore
  • (1894) Baltimore Orioles won the first baseball championship


  • (1904) Shoot destroyed in downtown Baltimore
  • (1912) Democratic National Convention held in Baltimore
  • (1920) Women voted for the first time in Maryland
  • (1920s – 1930s) Maryland refused to endorse national Prohibition laws called “free state”
  • (1921) Mary E. W. Risto first woman elected to the House of Deputies
  • (1922) Ku Klux Klan revived in Frederick, Baltimore
  • (1924) Flood destroyed much of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
  • (1935) University of Maryland Law School opened to black students, following suit brought by NAACP attorney, Thurgood Marshall
  • (1937) State income tax established
  • (1941) USS Maryland attacked at Pearl Harbor
  • (1942) Blacks in Baltimore protested police brutality; demanded school board representation
  • (1943) Elkton factory explosion killed 15 workers
  • (1944) Operation Blue Baby developed at Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • (1947) State sales tax established
  • (1952) Chesapeake Bay Bridge opened; first critical care facility in the country opened at Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • (1954) Louis Browns moved to Baltimore became American League Orioles; The University of Maryland is the first university to be merged below the Mason-Dixon Line
  • (1955) Desegregation of public schools has begun
  • (1957) Baltimore Harbor Tunnel opened
  • (1958 & 1959) Baltimore Colts National Football League champions
  • (1963) Race riots happened in Cambridge
  • (1967) Thurgood Marshall became the first African American Supreme Court Justice; riots and demonstrations in Cambridge resulted in two blocks of black area destroyed by fire
  • (1968) Riots occurred in Baltimore and Washington, DC after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King
  • (1969) Spiro Agnew elected US Vice President
  • (1970) Baltimore hosted first city fair; Baltimore Orioles win the World Series
  • (1973) Maryland adopted the state lottery; Spiro Agnew resigned as vice presidency
  • (1974) Both General Assembly buildings elected on the basis of equal representation by the population
  • (1979) Daniel Nazens, Hamilton Smith of Johns Hopkins Hospital won Nobel Prizes in Medicine
  • (1980) Harbor site in Baltimore opened
  • (1992) Baseball Stadium, Camden Yards, opened in downtown Baltimore
  • (1995) Annapolis celebrated 300th anniversary as the capital of Maryland
  • (1998) Middle East Peace talks held at the Wye River Convention Center


  • (2004) Maryland Celebrated the Centenary of the Flag
  • (2006) Maryland had the lowest poverty rate in the US
  • (2007) National First Living Wage Act enacted in Maryland; the Middle East Peace Conference was held at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis
  • (2008) Walking became an official state exercise; Maryland First State to Call Official State Enforcement
  • (2010) Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon resigned after embezzlement conviction
  • (2012) State Senate passed bill legalizing same-sex marriage

Maryland History