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Introduction

Maryland (US: /ˈmɛrɪlənd/ MERR-il-ənd) is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. To its south and west, the state borders Virginia and West Virginia and the national capital of Washington, D.C. To its north, it borders Pennsylvania. To its east, it borders Delaware and the Atlantic Ocean. With a total land area of 12,407 square miles (32,130 km2), Maryland is the ninth-smallest state by land area, and its population of 6,177,224 ranks it the 18th-most populous state and the fifth-most densely populated. Maryland's most populous city is Baltimore, and the capital is Annapolis. Among its occasional nicknames are Old Line State, the Free State, and the Chesapeake Bay State. It is named after Henrietta Maria, the French-born queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland during the 17th century.

The western portion of the state contains numerous stretches of the Appalachian Mountains, the central portion is primarily composed of the Piedmont, and the eastern side of the state makes up a significant portion of Chesapeake Bay.

Maryland's coastline was first explored by Europeans in the 16th century. Prior to that, it was inhabited by several Native American tribes, mostly the Algonquian peoples and, to a lesser degree, Iroquoians and Siouans. As one of the original Thirteen Colonies of England, Maryland was founded by George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, a Catholic convert who sought to provide a religious haven for Catholics persecuted in England. In 1632, Charles I of England granted Lord Baltimore a colonial charter, naming the colony after his wife, Henrietta Maria. Unlike the Pilgrims and Puritans, who rejected Catholicism in their settlements, Lord Baltimore envisioned a colony where people of different religious sects would coexist under the principle of toleration. (Full article...)

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The Royal Blue on the Thomas Viaduct in Relay, Maryland in 1937

The Royal Blue was the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O)'s flagship passenger train between New York City and Washington, D.C., in the United States, beginning in 1890. The Baltimore-based B&O also used the name between 1890 and 1917 for its improved passenger service between New York and Washington, collectively dubbed the Royal Blue Line. Using variants such as the Royal Limited and Royal Special for individual Royal Blue trains, the B&O operated the service in partnership with the Reading Railroad and the Central Railroad of New Jersey. Principal intermediate cities served were Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore. Later, as Europe reeled from the carnage of World War I and connotations of European royalty fell into disfavor, the B&O discreetly omitted the sobriquet Royal Blue Line from its New York passenger service and the Royal Blue disappeared from B&O timetables. Beginning in 1917, former Royal Blue Line trains were renamed: the Royal Limited (inaugurated on May 15, 1898), for example, became the National Limited, continuing west from Washington to St. Louis via Cincinnati. During the Depression, the B&O hearkened back to the halcyon pre-World War I era when it launched a re-christened Royal Blue train between New York and Washington in 1935. The B&O finally discontinued all passenger service north of Baltimore on April 26, 1958, including the Royal Blue.

Railroad historian Herbert Harwood said, in his seminal history of the service, "First conceived in late Victorian times to promote a new railroad line ... it was indeed one of the most memorable images in the transportation business, an inspired blend of majesty and mystique ... Royal Blue Line ... Royal Blue Trains ... the Royal Blue all meant different things at different times. But essentially they all symbolized one thing: the B&O's regal route." Between the 1890s and World War I, the B&O's six daily Royal Blue trains providing service between New York and Washington were noted for their luxury, elegant appearance, and speed. The car interiors were paneled in mahogany, had fully enclosed vestibules (instead of open platforms, still widely in use at the time on U.S. railroads), then-modern heating and lighting, and leaded glass windows. The car exteriors were painted a deep "Royal Saxony blue" color with gold leaf trim, a color personally chosen by the B&O's tenth president, Charles F. Mayer. (Full article...)

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Eva Marie Cassidy (February 2, 1963 – November 2, 1996) was an American singer and musician known for her interpretations of jazz, folk, and blues music, sung with a powerful, emotive soprano voice. In 1992, she released her first album, The Other Side, a set of duets with go-go musician Chuck Brown, followed by the 1996 live solo album titled Live at Blues Alley. Although she had been honored by the Washington Area Music Association, she was virtually unknown outside her native Washington, D.C., at the time of her death from melanoma at the age of 33 in 1996.

Two years later, Cassidy's music was brought to the attention of British audiences, when her versions of "Fields of Gold" and "Over the Rainbow" were played by Mike Harding and Terry Wogan on BBC Radio 2. Following the overwhelming response, a camcorder recording of "Over the Rainbow", taken at Blues Alley in Washington by her friend Bryan McCulley, was shown on BBC Two's Top of the Pops 2. Shortly afterwards, the compilation album Songbird climbed to the top of the UK Albums Chart, almost three years after its initial release. The chart success in the United Kingdom and Ireland led to increased recognition worldwide. Her posthumously released recordings, including three number-one albums and one number-one single in the UK, have sold more than ten million copies. Her music has also charted within the top 10 in Australia, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. (Full article...)

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The bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British. Engraved by John Bower

The Battle of Baltimore (September 12–15, 1814) was a battle fought between British and American forces in the War of 1812. American forces repulsed sea and land invasions off the busy port city of Baltimore, Maryland, and killed the commander of the invading British forces.

The British and Americans first met at the Battle of North Point. Though the Americans retreated, the battle was a successful delaying action that inflicted heavy casualties on the British, halted their advance, and allowed the defenders at Baltimore to prepare for an attack. (Full article...)

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