Maryland is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east. The state’s largest city is Baltimore, and its capital is Annapolis. Among its occasional nicknames are Old Line State, the Free State, and the Chesapeake Bay State. The state is named after the English Queen Henrietta Maria of France.
One of the original Thirteen Colonies, Maryland was founded by George Calvert, a trusted foreign minister and personal friend of King James I. When Calvert converted to Catholicism in 1625 it meant his disqualification from holding public office, but his friendship with King James remained. Calvert had had an early interest in the administration of colonial affairs and petitioned James for a charter to provide a religious haven for Catholics persecuted in England as well as to extend the territories of the English Empire. Consequently, in 1632 James’ son, Charles, granted Calvert a charter to settle lands in America held by the Crown, to wit: to “transport … a numerous Colony of the English Nation” to settle there. Unlike the Pilgrims and Puritans, who began enforcing conformity with their beliefs as soon as they settled in America, Calvert envisioned a colony where people of different religious sects would coexist under the principle of toleration. Some historians believe that Calvert’s aspiration towards such a society may have been inspired by the works of Thomas More, most notably the book Utopia. Accordingly, in 1649 the Maryland General Assembly passed an Act Concerning Religion, which enshrined the principle of toleration by penalizing anyone who “reproached” a fellow Marylander as a “heretic, Scismatick, Idolator, puritan, Independent, Presbyterian popish priest, Jesuit, Jesuited papist, Lutheran, Calvinist, Anabaptist, Brownist, Antinomian, Barrowist, Roundhead [or] Separatist.