Thursday, February 25, 2016

Maryland, Your Maryland

I noted in an earlier blog post that part of the reason Martin O'Malley was not taken seriously as a presidential candidate was because he's from Maryland, a state that's considered politically irrelevant.  It was hard to disagree with that assessment.  Maryland is not only politically irrelevant now, but it seems to have always been politically irrelevant.  Sure, it gave us a great jurist like Thurgood Marshall, but the number of Marylanders who made their mark in the public realm is pretty small, and most of their - and the state's - contributions to public life have ranged from being insignificant to totally dubious; those who have stood out have mostly done so for the wrong reasons.
Let's examine the evidence:
  • Maryland's most famous Founding Father is Charles Carroll, and he's famous not because of anything he said or did.  He's famous because he was the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence and because he was the last surviving signer of that document.      
  • Maryland was the last state to ratify the Articles of Confederation.  Yeah, how did that work out?  Also, it wouldn't do so until Virginia and New York agreed to cede their claims in the Ohio River Valley.  So what?
  • John Hanson, a Marylander, was the first President of Congress under the auspices of the Articles of Confederation.  Some historians insist that he's our country's first real President of the United States.  I don't think so!  Besides, the post of President of Congress under the Articles was only symbolic.   
  • When the Democrats and Republicans competed against each other for the Presidency for the first time in 1856, Maryland was the only state carried by neither Democratic presidential candidate James Buchanan (who won the election) nor Republican presidential candidate John C. Frémont but by former President Millard Fillmore, running as the presidential nominee of the American, or Know-Nothing, party.  The Know-Nothings were devoted to an immigration agenda that was as much against immigrants as Donald Trump's immigration agenda is and as Martin O'Malley's was not.     
  • Roger B. Taney, the fifth Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was a Marylander.  He's best remembered for saying in the Dred Scott decision of 1857 that slaves were property guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment, and that slavery could not be restricted from federal territories.  Yeah, that went down well.   
  • In 1968, after nearly two hundred years, Maryland finally produced a nationally elected officeholder - Vice President Spiro Agnew.  Awk-ward!   
  • One of Maryland's most distinguished U.S. Senators was Charles Mathias, a Republican in the party's now-defunct Rockefeller wing, who served from 1969 to 1987.  When the Republicans took over the Senate in 1981 for the first time in over a quarter of a century, Mathias was in line to chair a prestigious antitrust subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Judiciary Committee Chairman Strom Thurmond hated Mathias so much, he abolished the subcommittee rather than let Mathias chair it.  Easy come, easy go.     
  • Perhaps the most famous Marylander in international politics was Wallis Warfield Simpson, whose engagement to Britain's King Edward VIII changed the course of the monarchy when the engagement forced the king to surrender the throne in 1936.  The joke goes like this:  The British people objected to Mrs. Simpson as queen consort because she was an American, a divorced woman, and, worst of all, from Baltimore. 
  • Ironically, Maryland is the only one of the original thirteen states named for a queen consort. 
Don't worry, Maryland.  You'll always have Annapolis.
Please don't take this blog entry seriously, Marylanders.
Nice flag. :-D

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