Annapolis is the capital of Maryland and the seat of Anne Arundel County. Despite being a center of government, Annapolis has a relatively small population (just over thirty-six thousand) and presents itself more as a quaint seaport village than a bustling metropolis. Annapolis has been tagged as the "Sailing Capital of the World," and the City Dock (established in 1695) has garnered the nickname "Ego Alley" because of the endless parade of expensive yachts. Annapolis is also well known as the home of the U.S. Naval Academy, established in 1845 at the former army base of Fort Severn.
In 1648, William Stone and his fellow Puritans found themselves at odds with Virginia's Episcopal Church. Lord Baltimore in England had established his Maryland colony as a refuge for English Catholics, but was now suffering political backlash for his Roman Catholic faith. As a gesture to prove his loyalty to Parliament, he offered the Puritans a generous land grant in Maryland and installed Stone as governor of the mostly Catholic providence. The Puritans settled on the south shore of the Severn River, and the fledgling village was named Anne Arundel's Towne, in honor of Baltimore's late wife. It was here that Stone, acting at Baltimore's behest, sighed the Religious Toleration Act in 1649, bestowing liberty to all Christian denominations in the Province of Maryland.
The Glorious Revolution of 1694 brought a regime change in England, and Maryland once again became a colony under British rule. Because of the central location of Anne Arundel's Towne, it was selected as the site of the new provincial capital. Sir Francis Nicholson, the acting governor of Maryland, renamed the town Annapolis in honor of Princess Anne (who became Queen of England in 1702). Nicholas had aspirations of turning Annapolis into a grand baroque city, much like the great capitals of Europe. The city was laid out in a wheel pattern (which many claim inspired Pierre L'Enfant's design of Washington D.C.), with two hubs in the center. State Circle would contain State House and King William's School (which would later become St. John's College). Church Circle would house St. Anne's Episcopal Church.
The city was chartered in 1708, and grew prosperous as a plantation state. The opulence of Annapolis became legendary as wealthy land owners decorated their homes with luxury items from Europe, dressed in fine clothing, and attended an endless succession of fancy balls. The city remained affluent and went relatively untouched during the American Revolution, leading to its selection as a temporary U.S. capital in 1783. Although slavery was an integral part of the city's economy (as depicted in Alex Haley's book Roots), the practice was decried by a number of Annapolis residents and outlawed in 1808.
Annapolis has three centuries of rich heritage, much of which is meticulously preserved in the historic district along the waterfront. Shops and restaurants are located along the brick streets in buildings dating back to the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The Historic Annapolis Foundation offers self-guided walking tours of this district, as well as the State House, and the U.S. Naval Academy. Monuments have been erected throughout the city to many people who played a part in Annapolis' history, including Supreme Court justices Roger Taney and Thurgood Marshall, and author Alex Haley. A plaque was also installed at the waterfront commemorating the arrival of Haley's ancestor, Kunta Kinte, on the slave ship Lord Ligonier.