Maryland Day is the one day each year set aside to remember our State's long and interesting history. The celebration of Maryland Day began in Maryland's schools in 1903. That year, teachers from around the State agreed that a special day needed to be set aside for school programs that would help students appreciate our State and its history. They chose March 25 as the day to call Maryland Day. It was on that day in 1634 that Maryland's first colonists left their ships, the Ark and the Dove, and came ashore to give thanks for a safe passage across the Atlantic Ocean.
In the early years, Maryland Day programs in Maryland schools usually began with the students singing several songs about Maryland and America. Then the principal or an important person in the community would talk about the early history of Maryland and some of the things that made Maryland so special. Often one or more students would read essays or poems they had written in honor of Maryland Day. School buildings were decorated with the Maryland Colors of black and gold. Students often pinned black and gold ribbons on their clothing. Maryland Day became so popular in the schools that the Maryland General Assembly in 1916 made it an official State holiday.
When we celebrate Maryland Day we remember the Calvert family of England. George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore, asked British King Charles I for a colony in the New World. George Calvert died before his wish was granted. The King gave the Charter of Maryland to George Calvert's son, Cecil, second Lord Baltimore .
One reason George and Cecil Calvert wanted a colony in America is that they were Roman Catholics. Roman Catholics were not free to practice their religion in England. The Calverts decided that everyone in Maryland would be free to practice whatever religion they wanted.
Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort of England, (1609-1669) Princess of France & Queen of Charles I of England. Maryland is named in her honor.
Picture courtesy of the Maryland State Archives
The King gave the Maryland colony to the Calverts as a gift. He only asked the Calverts for two things in return. He asked them to pay him rent each year, but the rent he asked for was just two Indian arrowheads delivered to his castle in England. He also asked the Calverts to name the new colony after his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria. That is why our state is called "Mary-land," or Maryland. We are lucky the Queen was known by her middle name. Otherwise, today we might be known as "Henriettalanders."
From a speech by former Gov. William D. Schaefer
© Copyright October 16, 1997, Office of the Secretary of State.
Last Modified September 16, 2003. bv