of approximately 38,400 people located at the
mouth of the Severn River, on the western shores
of Chesapeake Bay; capital of Maryland; seat of
Anne Arundel County; home to the United States
Puritans from Virginia founded the settlement
of Providence on the north shore of the Severn
River in 1649, and that settlement was
subsequently named "Anne Arundel's
Towne," after the wife of Lord Baltimore,
who owned the proprietary colony.
In 1694, Sir
Francis Nicholson, Governor of the Maryland
Colony, moved the colony's capital from St.
Mary's City to Anne Arundel's Towne, which he
renamed Annapolis in honor of Princess Anne, heir
to the British throne. In 1708, Queen Anne
chartered her colonial namesake as a city, and
her royal badge, with a crown over the entwined
thistle of Scotland and Tudor rose of England, is
still depicted on the Annapolis flag. Sir Francis
was also responsible for the layout of the city.
Instead of using a customary grid, he constructed
a baroque plan similar to the capitals of Europe.
He drew circles with radiating streets to create
focal points and give importance to certain
structures. In one circle is St Anne's, the
Episcopal Church, regarded as the spiritual
center of the city. In the other circle, rising
over the harbor, is the State House, the seat of
From the middle of the 18th century until the Revolutionary
War, Annapolis was noted for its wealthy and
cultivated society, thanks primarily to its
status as a major center for shipping commerce.
Its economic status declined rapidly in the
late-1700's, however, after Baltimore, with its
deeper harbor, was made a port of entry in 1780,
and other water-based industries such as
oyster-packing, boatbuilding and sailmaking
became the city's chief industries.
Annapolis served as the capital of the United
States from November 26, 1783 to
June 3, 1784, and it was in the State House that George Washington resigned his commission as commander in
chief of the Continental Army on December 23,
In 1786, a convention, to which delegates from
all the states of the Union were invited, was
called to meet in Annapolis to consider measures
for the better regulation of commerce. Delegates
came from only five states, however, and the
"Annapolis Convention" only succeeded
in passing a resolution calling for another
convention to meet at Philadelphia
in the following year to amend the Articles
of Confederation; that convention
resulted in the Constitution of the United States
that governs the country to this day.
The United States Naval Academy was
established in Annapolis in 1845.
Annapolis is governed via the mayor council
system. The city council consists of eight
members who are elected from single member wards.
The mayor is elected directly in a citywide vote.
The State of Maryland is the
largest employer in Annapolis, followed by the
Anne Arundel Medical Center and the Naval
Annapolis is served by the Anne Arundel County
Public Schools system.
St. John's College, founded in 1696 as King
William's School, is the third oldest college in
the United States (after Harvard and William and
The Maryland State House, built in 1772,
is the oldest state capitol still in daily use.
The Continental Congress met in the building from
November 26, 1783 to August 13, 1784, and the
Treaty of Paris, which formally ended the
Revolutionary War, was ratified there on January
The Annapolis Maritime Museum explores the
maritime heritage of Annapolis and the Chesapeake
Bay with exhibits and live entertainment.
Visitors can learn about the life of watermen and
the seafood industry of yesteryear in the Bay
Experience Center, which is housed in an oyster
packing plant. The museum also offers tours of
the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, the last
remaining screw-pile lighthouse in its original
location on the Chesapeake Bay.
The Banneker-Douglass Museum displays
artifacts and photographs documenting the history
of black life in Maryland. Located in what was
once an African Methodist Episcopal church, the
museum is named for Benjamin
Banneker and Frederick
Douglass, both of whom overcame prejudice to
achieve greatness in their fields.
The Chesapeake Children's Museum features a
ten-foot aquarium with native sea life, a
"touchable" turtle tub, an earthen
habitat for box turtles, and many other native
and exotic animal species.
The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial, located
at the City Dock in Annapolis, commemorates the
place that Alex Haley's African ancestor, Kunta
Kinte, arrived in the New World. The Memorial is
a sculpture depicting Alex Haley, author of the
book Roots, reading to three children of
different ethnic backgrounds.
The Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts is a
center for studying, exhibiting, performing, and
practicing the arts. Resident companies include
the ballet, symphony, opera, and chorale who all
give performances in its 800 seat auditorium. It
is also home to resident artists who teach and
maintain studios there and frequently exhibit in
the galleries on the premises. Thousands of
students of all ages take classes in the visual
and performing arts.
The National Sailing Hall of Fame explores the
history of sailing and its impact on our culture,
honoring those who have made outstanding
contributions to the sport of sailing. Exhibits
display artifacts, works of art, literature, film
photographs, and memorabilia related to sailing.
Annapolis is home to more 18th-century
buildings than anywhere else in the United
States, including the homes of all four Maryland
signers of the Declaration of Independence.
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