Maryland's 350th Anniversary


Initial Planning

The Dove   
A recreation of the Dove
One of the duties which befell the Hughes administration was organizing the celebration of Maryland's 350th Anniversary.  Planning began early in 1980 with a letter from State Senate President James Clark to Governor Hughes.  From these early brainstorming sessions, a formal report outlining a plan of action was created.  This document recommended the creation of a 350th Anniversary Commission to plan the celebration, and it outlined several thoughts on the character of the celebration and what it should hope to achieve.  Among these recommendations were that the 350th Anniversary should leave  a lasting legacy with the development of a permanent edifice or institution and that the promotion of the events surrounding the anniversary should help to develop Maryland tourism both within and outside of the state. Also, the report suggested that the celebration should stress religious toleration (specifically the Act of Toleration) and the separation of church and state because the economic and social history approach used by the Historic St. Mary's Commission had not "captured the imagination of local political leaders".    Dr. Papenfuse and the rest of the archives staff played a crucial role during this planning phase, at they provided the historical context which formed the basis for the celebrations which were to come.


Following these initial recommendations, Maryland held a series of events throughout 1984 to celebrate Maryland's birth, including scholarly lectures,  museum exhibits, and festivals. While the celebration was a year long, it was the festivities held on Maryland Day and Charter Day which  highlighted 1984.  The Maryland Day events began with a reenactment of the landing at St. Clements Island, and were also to include a recreation of a 17th Century mass and a choral program.  Unfortunately for the State, the day was plagued by terrible weather which truncated the events and sent three men to the hospital for exposure (Attorney General Stephen Sachs joked that they were going to change the name of the island from St. Clements to Inclement).  Despite this, over 4,200 people showed up, including Governor Hughes who helped lead a band of people in "Happy Birthday".  From there the party moved north to St. Mary's City where festivities were again altered by the weather, as the speeches and special joint session of legislature had to be moved to the St. Mary's College gymnasium.  Among those attending the ceremonies were representatives from England, including Lord Eden, direct descendant of Robert Eden, the last English governor of Maryland.  Also present were religious leaders, most notably Archbishop James Hickey.

The Duke of Kent presents Gov. Hughes with a copy of the Maryland Charter.  Pictured left to right are: the Duchess of Kent, the Duke, Gov. Hughes, Mrs. Hughes and Dr. Papenfuse.
Despite the less than spectacular outcome of the Maryland Day celebrations, the Charter Day activities were a tremendous success.  These ceremonies revolved around the June 21st arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Kent to Maryland.  Marylanders had been anticipating a visit from royalty for over a year, but the initial hope had been that Prince Charles and Princess Diana would be the guests.  That  arrangement did not work out, but based on the enthusiastic quotes which fill the newspapers and the level of media coverage, there was not too much disappointment.  After a day of official ceremonies and state dinners, the royals left Annapolis on the 22nd  to see the rest of Maryland.  Their day-long tour ran the cultural gamut from a meeting with the Future Farmers of America in the morning to a nighttime reception at the Walters Art Gallery.   On June 23rd, the royal couple trekked to Saint Mary's City where they helped Governor Hughes dedicate the opening of the St. Mary's City Historical Park. One of the stops on the Duke and Duchess' tour was  Lord Baltimore's World.  This living history park was in St. Mary's County and was open from May to July of 1984. It featured actors and actresses portraying Leonard Calvert, Margaret Brent, and typical citizens from 17th century Maryland.  I was just six years old at the time, but I can still recall watching a sword swallower perform; even more vivid is my recollection of winning tickets in a drawing and being able to return a second time.  While Lord Baltimore's World and the Charter and Maryland Day celebrations were fun, they were also important economic boons to Southern Maryland.
17th Century Soldiers   
A pair of scenes from Lord Baltimore's World
By late November, at least 400,000 tourists had pumped $8 million into the economies of St. Mary's, Charles, and Calvert Counties.  Spending money was easy during the 350th Anniversary, because there was plenty to buy. License plates, mugs, stamps, coins, and even a special ice cream flavor (Chesapeake Wild Berry Ripple) were among the array of choices for the historically minded consumer.  Despite its obvious importance, Maryland's Sesquitricentennial was not the only historical anniversary being celebrated at the time.  There were also events marking the bicentennial of  the resignation of George Washington as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in December of 1983 and the Ratification of Treaty of Paris in January of 1984.

-Maryland 350th Anniversary Topic File  MSA SC 1456-676
-Harry R. Hughes Collection MSA SC 4975
Prepared by Craig Patterson and Andrew Krug, August 1998

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