First Lady Tours Maryland State House

By BRIAN WITTE
|  Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010  |  Updated 8:49 PM EDT
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First Lady Michelle Obama and 9-year-old daughter Sasha got an eyeful of Maryland history on Tuesday with a tour of the Maryland State House and the U.S. Naval Academy.

The first lady, her daughter and other relatives took a 45-minute tour with Edward Papenfuse, the state archivist. Papenfuse pointed out historical aspects of the building, which is known as the nation's oldest statehouse in continuous legislative use.

Shaun Adamec, a spokesman for Gov. Martin O'Malley, said the governor greeted them and gave Salisbury Pewter pill boxes with a state seal engraving to Sasha and two other girls who took the tour.

"She mentioned this is part of the educational visits of the summer," Adamec said, referring to Michelle Obama.

Papenfuse showed the group the personal handwritten copy of the speech George Washington gave when he resigned his commission as commander in chief of the Continental Army in 1783 in the old Senate chamber. The speech is considered a landmark in American history for establishing military subservience to civil authority. The state acquired the document in 2007.

Papenfuse also told the group about a lightning rod atop the statehouse dome that was designed by Benjamin Franklin. It is the largest rod made to Franklin's recommendations ever attached to a public or private building in his lifetime.

Papenfuse said the first lady was given an autographed copy of Alex Haley's book "Roots." Haley was inspired to write the book after he found a newspaper article about a slave ship that brought his ancestor, Kunta Kinte, to Annapolis in 1767. Haley's nephew, Chris Haley, works at the Maryland State Archives.

The Maryland State House served as the capital of the United States from 1783 to 1784. The Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War, was signed in the building in 1784.


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