September 6, 2016 – Maryland’s State Capitol

After a forty-minute drive, we arrived in Annapolis

annapolisonly to find some extremely narrow roads near the State House and that on-street parking was, at best, a challenge … although we were successful after a car fortuitously vacated a space right in front of us.

The Maryland State House was the first peacetime capitol of the United States and is the only state house ever to have served as the nation’s capital.  The Continental Congress met in the Old Senate Chamber from November 26, 1783, to August 13, 1784.

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It is also the oldest state capitol still in legislative use.

maryland-state-capitol-dome-a-annapolis-md-2106-09-06Possible model for design of the dome: Schlossturm, the dome of the free-standing tower next to the palace of Karl-Wilhelm, Markgraf of Baden, in Karlsruhe, Germany.  Amazingly, the dome is still held together by wooden pegs, although now reinforced by iron straps.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are said to have spent three hours on the balcony of the down in September 1790 enjoying the view of Annapolis houses from their perch above the town.  During the War of 1812, teh balcony was used as an observation platform to watch for British warships.

maryland-state-capitol-cupola-b-annapolis-md-2106-09-06The height of the State House (to the top of the lightening rod) is 181 feet.

A prime example of lightning rod designed according to the theories of Benjamin Franklin who argued that the most effective protection from lightning was a pointed rod, preferably grounded into a deep well.

maryland-state-capitol-finail-lightening-rod-and-flags-a-annapolis-md-2106-09-06 Acorns were common decorative elements in the late 18th century.  In the language of the day, "sound as an acorn" meant to be without a flaw, free from imperfection, clearly something the architect of the dome, Joseph Clark, and the General Assembly, intended his creation to be.  The purpose of the State House acorn was to provide stability to the "Franklin" lightning rod which goes through its center.  The original cypress from (ca. 1785-1788), covered with copper panels Pedestal covered with sheet lead, probably from 1837.  During restoration work on the State House dome, it was discovered that the 208 year-old acorn had become rotten because of water seepage. As it too damaged to be repaired, it was decided to replace it by having 32 craftspeople from around the state make "slices" that would be used to assemble a new acorn. The new acorn was then clad in copper and gilded and painted.

The entrance is framed by two enormous brass-relief doors.

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The interior Rotunda raises 113 feet

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Marble Columns, Railings and Balusters

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Elevators

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Original House Legislative Chamber and Chairs & Desks

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Circa 1876-1893

Current House Legislative Chamber

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Original Senate Chamber

maryland-state-capitol-old-senate-chambers-circa-1876-1877-annapolis-md-2106-09-06Circa 1877

maryland-state-capitol-old-senate-chamber-niche-annapolis-md-2106-09-06The recessed niche, the flat wooden pilasters tto eather side, and the arched plaster trim are some of the only surviving original architectual elements of the Old Senate Chamber.  The throne-like apearance of te overal feater evoked th epower of the president of the Senate, as well as the president of the Congress. 

maryland-state-capitol-george-washingtons-resignation-to-congress-a-annapolis-md-2106-09-06It was in the Old Senate Chamber that General George Washington famously resigned his commission as commander in chief of the Continental Army on December 23, 1783 … his handwritten original is on display in the Rotunda

"Mr. President: The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place; I have now the honor of offering my sincere Congratulations to Congress and of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the Service of my Country.

Happy in the confirmation of our Independence and Sovereignty, and pleased with the oppertunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable Nation, I resign with satisfaction the Appointment I accepted with diffidence. A diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our Cause, the support of the supreme Power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.

The Successful termination of the War has verified the most sanguine expectations, and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my Countrymen, encreases with every review of the momentous Contest.

While I repeat my obligations to the Army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge in this place the peculiar Services and distinguished merits of the Gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the War. It was impossible the choice of confidential Officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate. Permit me Sir, to recommend in particular those, who have continued in Service to the present moment, as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of Congress.

I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my Official life, by commending the Interests of our dearest Country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them, to his holy keeping."

This speech is often considered one of the most important documents in American history as it helped set the precedent that the military was to be subordinate to the civilian government.

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Built between 1777-1779, the gallery originally provided space for private citizens to view the proceedings of the Maryland Senate and was the only area where women were allowed, from the elevated perspective, Molly Ridout observed George Washington’s resignation, an event she described in a letter to her mother.

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Current Senate Chamber

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State House Caucus Room

maryland-state-capitol-legislative-caucus-room-annapolis-md-2106-09-06This room is part of the original 1779 State House.  It has served many purposes over the years, including records office, a flag room exhibiting the state’s Civil War battle flags, a bill room for the Legislature and a Visitor’s Center.

maryland-state-capitol-legislative-caucus-room-grandfathers-clock-annapolis-md-2106-09-06Original Grandfather Clock

In 1904, Governor Edwin Warfield commissioned a custom silver service for the new Armored cruiser USS Maryland (ACR-8).

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The service features many images and symbols of Maryland and is regarded as the finest naval service every made, It was used aboard the USS Maryland until the late 1940s when it was placed on public display … although four pieces of the service are now aboard the nuclear-powered submarine Maryland (SSBN-738).

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Of the many painting on display, one depicts Washington’s resignation speech.  However, it has several glaring errors … including George Washington’s location which was not adjacent to the President’s niche but toward the rear of the room (as shown above) and the presence of Marth Washington (who was a Mount Vernon at the time).

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Marquis de Lafayette

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William Pitt (the “Great Commoner”)

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The four Maryland signors of the Declaration of Independence

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Highlights of the grounds immediately surrounding the Capitol building include:

Old Treasury Building

maryland-state-capitol-grounds-old-treasury-building-annapolis-md-2106-09-06Built in 1735-36 for the Commissioners for Emitting ills of Credit who issued the first paper money of the colony.  Known in the colonial period as the Paper Currency Office and the Loan Office, the building acquired its present name in the 1780s when it housed the Treasurer’s Office.

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17th Century Cannon

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Plaque

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USS Maryland (BB-46) Ship’s Bell

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Baron Johann de Kalb

maryland-state-capitol-grounds-statue-of-baron-johann-de-kalb-a-annapolis-md-2106-09-06A distinguished Revolutionary War hero and friend of Marquis de Lafayette.  DeKalb served at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78 and was assigned to lead a division of Maryland and Delaware troops during the southern campaign.  At the Battle of Camden, South Carolina on August 16, 1780, his horse was shot from underneath him and he was shot and bayonetted by British troops.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brook Taney

maryland-state-capitol-grounds-statue-of-roger-brooke-taney-annapolis-md-2106-09-06Roger Taney was born in Maryland and served as Attorney General of the US and Secretary of the Treasury.  He was sworn in as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court on March 15, 1836 and served until his death in 1864.  Although Taney personally considered slavery as an evil and he freed his own slaves when he inherited them and provided pensions to those too old to work.   Yet, he believed its abolition had to be led by the states in which slavery existed.  In the infamous Dred Scott v Sandford decision, Taney wrote that persons of African descent did not possess rights of citizenship, because, he said, the framers had not included blacks, either free or enslaved, in the original community of people covered by the Constitution.  The Court also held that the 1820 Missouri Compromise which prohibited slavery in the western territories was unconstitutional.  Aside from the Dred Scott decision, however. Taney is considered by many legal scholars and historians to have been a great magistrate and a distinguished chief justice.

Justice Thurgood Marshall

maryland-state-capitol-grounds-statue-thurgood-marshall-annapolis-md-2106-09-06with nearby statues of parties of two of the cases with which he is most noted.

Brown v. Board of Education

maryland-state-capitol-grounds-statue-brown-v-board-of-education-annapolis-md-2106-09-06In which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional.

Murry v. Pearson

maryland-state-capitol-grounds-statue-murray-v-university-of-maryland-annapolis-md-2106-09-06Murray v. Pearson was a Maryland Court of Appeals decision which found "the state has undertaken the function of education in the law, but has omitted students of one race from the only adequate provision made for it, and omitted them solely because of their color." On January 15, 1936, the court affirmed the lower court ruling which ordered the university to immediately integrate its student population, and therefore created a legal precedent making segregation in Maryland illegal.

Not too far away, the dome of the United States Naval Academy chapel stood out above the Annapolis skyline.

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After walking the State Capitol grounds we visited passed the Governor’s Mansion with its beautiful landscaping

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just across the street, the Annapolis Post Office

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and St. Anne’s Parish, an historic Episcopal church located in Church Circle, and the third to sit on the site.

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The first St. Anne's (1704-1775)was founded in 1692 after the passing of the Establishment Act. The Act allowed for the construction of the State House, King William's School, and St. Anne's, though due to the limited work force and insufficient funds, all of the projects were finished much later than expected and work started out slowly.  In 1699 the General Assembly specified that the dimensions of the church were to be 65 feet wide and 30 feet long  with a porch and a tower that would hang a bell.  But due to the insufficient funds, no progress was made until 1700, when the government invested enough money to begin construction.  By 1704, the church was finished, though some changes were made in the structure.  It served Chapel River until 1715, when the Province of Maryland was returned to Lord Baltimore.  A bell, which would call parishioners to services until it was destroyed by fire in 1858, was donated to St. Anne's by Queen Anne.

After the original church was razed, the local government made plans to build a new church.  Unfortunately, construction had to be cancelled since it was planned at the beginning of the Revolutionary War.  The bricks and timber that were to be used to build to new church were sent to the Severn River to build a fort, and most of the work force went off to fight. During the War,

After the War officially ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the newly founded United States went into economic depression due to severe war debts and dislocation of accustomed trading patterns.  This cause a further delay on the new church building's construction.  Finally, in 1792, the new St. Anne's church was finished. It was much larger and more structurally secure than It’s predecessor.  On February 14, 1858, a furnace fire practically destroyed the interior of the building. Most of the original documents from the old church burned, and a new church building was requested.

The third and final church was built in 1858. It was designed in a Romanesque Revival style and incorporated a portion of the old tower. Most of the church was built in that year apart from the steeple which was finished in 1866 due to the Civil War. This is St. Anne's current church building.

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st-annes-parish-kneeling-stools-annapolis-md-2106-09-06Each of the kneeling stools has been individually needle-pointed commemorating the 300th anniversary of the formation of the original parish.

 

Wendy Manley, one of Debbie’s two best friends from our years in Yardley (we’d visited Jane Johnson while in Mesa) joined us for lunch.

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