Michelle Obama, daughter visit Annapolis
First Lady Michelle Obama, 9-year-old daughter Sasha, a young niece and other relatives toured Maryland's historic State House on Tuesday.
Gov. Martin O'Malley greeted the family, said O'Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec, and gave Sasha, the niece and a 2-year-old girl in the group Salisbury Pewter pill boxes engraved with the state seal. Obama's sister-in-law was also in attendance.
Maryland State Archivist Edward C. Papenfuse led a 45-minute private tour of the capitol and grounds. Secret Service restricted access to the capitol building during the event, from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and kept media and passers-by at a distance.
Papenfuse, state archivist since 1975, said the guests were "engaged" and enjoyed themselves.
"We had a great time," Papenfuse said. "They were a wonderful audience."
The State House -- which dates to 1772 and is the oldest working state capitol in the country -- is loaded with history.
The first stop was the House of Delegates chamber, Papenfuse said, where House Speaker Michael E. Busch explained the legislative process.
After peeking into the Senate chamber across the hall, Papenfuse led the group to the state archives room, the Old Senate Chamber -- where George Washington resigned as commander of the Continental Army in 1783 -- and the governor's office, which holds a huge desk made out of Wye Oak. The Obamas also viewed a rarely displayed draft copy of Washington's resignation speech.
Papenfuse shared history highlights and trivia about the capitol: The flag pole atop the wooden dome is a real Ben Franklin lightning rod. President Abraham Lincoln came to town in 1865 but didn't want to be seen by anyone. He walked a mile to his boat undetected.
In addition to the pewter boxes, the Obamas left with several books, most notably an autographed copy of roots. Author Alex Haley's nephew, Chris Haley, heads the state archives research division.
Michelle Obama, wearing a knee-length flowy, white dress, the children and her sister-in-law descended the State House steps about 12:30 p.m. and briefly strolled the pedestrian area between the capitol and the governor's mansion. Papenfuse explained the statuary commemorating Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court case that led to school integration.
The Obamas hopped into a silver SUV and sped off in a motorcade, reportedly stopping at the nearby U.S. Naval Academy and at other historic Annapolis sites.
Obama told Papenfuse and others that the day was part of the girls' summer educational visits.