The Corner

Maryland, My Maryland

This week marks Maryland’s 375th birthday. With its dismal tax climate and one-party Democratic rule, Free State conservatives often refer to Maryland as, “the once-free state.” Now, Maryland liberals aim to take away our history. A bill before the legislature aims to change the lyrics of the state song, “Maryland, My Maryland.” 

James Ryder Randall wrote the lyrics — sung to the tune of “O Tannenbaum” in 1861 upon learning of the death of a friend in the Baltimore Riot, sparked by federal occupation the city. After the riots Abraham Lincoln imprisoned the mayor and police chief in Fort McHenry and arrested state legislators, who were thought to harbor southern sympathies.

Some consider the last stanza of the lyrics, which contain the words “Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum! She breathes! she burns! she’ll come! she’ll come! Maryland! My Maryland!” offensive. The bill’s co-sponsor Delegate Jolene Ivey said, “As a state, we’ve moved on from glorifying the Confederacy.” An official for the state historical society openly admitted ignorance of the lyrics and said she was “open to “changing any language that doesn’t reflect our current inclusive attitudes.”

However, the song does not glorify the Confederacy, rather, it is a clarion call for a free people to resist the tyranny of an oppressive government. The lyrics hearken to historic Marylanders who stood for liberty, like Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The bill appears dead in committee, for now. However, the powerful president of the state senate, a Maryland history buff himself, who opposed past attempts to change the lyrics, has expressed a willingness to change the last stanza.

Given that the Mercatus Center recently ranked Maryland dead last in personal freedom and 46th out of 50 in overall freedom, the notions of liberty and freedom appear to be, in the eyes of state lawmakers, nothing more than quaint artifacts offensive to politically correct “inclusive attitudes.”  Unfortunately, Maryland may not be My Maryland for much longer.

– Mark Newgent blogs for Red Maryland and is the Baltimore History Examiner.

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