The original Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song that would become our national anthem, is among the most treasured artifacts in the Smithsonian's collections. It was made in Baltimore, Maryland, in July–August 1813 by flagmaker Mary Pickersgill. Baltimore is also the birthplace of Babe Ruth, the "Sultan of Swat," who got his start as a minor league Oriole. Maryland is the birthplace of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. Born a slave on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Tubman escaped slavery and led others to freedom as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. Douglass was born near Easton, Maryland. In the years following his escape from bondage in 1838, Douglass emerged as a powerful and persuasive spokesman for the cause of abolition.
Today, Maryland is home to the U.S. Naval Academy and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, researching the causes and consequences of rapid change in the Chesapeake Bay and coastal ecosystems around the world.