Even though Maryland ranks 42nd in size in the United States, it’s pivotal location has witnessed events that had a dramatic impact on America. Even though it was the most Catholic of the 13 colonies, in 1649, the colonists voted for the Maryland Toleration Act, which granted freedom of worship for all Christians. It represented an important step for true religious freedom in the United States. Then, there’s the Mason Dixon Line, which contrary to prevailing opinion, it was not established to divide the free North from the slave-holding South. It was established to settle an 80-year dispute between the Calvert family of Maryland and the Penn family of Pennsylvania. Only later did it become the demarcation line. During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner as Baltimore burned. And the Battle of Antietam in 1862 marked the first attack on Union soil in the Civil War and the bloodiest one-day battle in US history with more than 23,000 soldiers killed. It also marked the retreat of the Confederacy back to the South, giving President Lincoln the opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves. Mostly equated with the coastal culture of the Eastern Shore and Annapolis, the sailing capital of the United States, and the famous blue crabs, Maryland actually stretches all the way to the Appalachian Mountains, and the culture in the state changes gradually as one moves further west. That fact makes for some of the most varied landscapes and evolving geography in a small area, yet some of the most scenic byways connecting regions to explore it all. You’ll find a microcosm of the North, South, East and West all in one compact little place.