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March 15, 2016

Chief Justice Taney and Francis Scott Key?

Harry M. Covert

It probably isn’t nice to say, but the business of re-writing history, especially of America long, long ago, is wrong, stupid and inconceivable. There can be no renegotiating events of days gone by to fit in the modern day.


While it is correct the nation was birthed at Jamestown, Virginia, in the 1600s. Despite the severely cold weather and famine, the settlers toughed it out and the country somehow prospered beyond expectations.


I’m rather happy I didn’t have to endure the hardships of that period. It’s rather good, despite all of the bumps and bruises from the 1900-2000s. Cars, communications of all sorts, air conditioning and warm homes and, well, you know the fantastic results, even trips to space and the moon and such interplanetary things like satellites.


Well, all has not been perfect. No matter how we cut it the matter of slavery isn’t something easily forgotten and probably won’t be, good, bad or otherwise. But this period happened. No matter how the books and stories and movies entertain the masses with what may be described in genteel and allegedly glamorous periods is true history.


How can the ugly slavery period be erased and dislodged. Let’s not fool ourselves such that evil only occurred south of the Mason-Dixon Line.


The point here is rather simple and matter of fact. It’s absolutely silly, foolish and improper to try and remove all emblems of the period when the country split. But it is historical, blue and the gray and all sorts of reasons.


Last week, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Henrico County school board voted to remove the Byrd name from a middle school. Need I recall that Harry Flood Byrd, Sr., is a historical figure that was a state governor, and U.S. Senator with great power, influence and success.


The Byrd family was and is today something. Senator Harry Jr. was also a stalwart for years. Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd was known for his Antarctica expeditions.


The entire family has been headquartered in Berryville and Winchester. They were newspaper publishers of note, owned fruit orchards, etcetera, etcetera.


Here in the Free State, Frederick and in Annapolis, the capital, a bunch of non-historians have been stirring up trouble about artifacts from the period that is known as the War of Northern Aggression, the War Between the States and more properly the Civil War.


This history is incredible. It involved a terrible war. I don’t want to recount the millions who were killed, wounded, maimed and left homeless. There is no joke, but “war is hell.”


Here in Frederick alleged carpetbaggers want to remove the bust of Roger Brooke Taney, the distinguished fifth Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, from 1836 until his death in 1864.


In those “unenlightened” days, he wrote the famous Dred Scott decision that deemed blacks weren't citizens of the United States. Of course, this is far out of kilter for our modern day values and totally improper.


Recently Maryland’s State Senate committee dumped a bill that would have removed the Taney (pronounced Taw-nee) statue which stands outside of the State House. The reason is the figure is too heavy to be moved and there is no storage available.


The Frederick City Hall matter is this. The bust, upon its dedication in 1931, was accepted by the governor of the State of Maryland on behalf of the state. And, the state ownership has the responsibility. So local history rewriters, “come here’s” and or other known busybodies will just have to lump it.


The other matter in the general public realm is other items of historical recognition, specifically the flag of the Confederate States of America. No one is calling for a return to yesteryear. The CSA battle flag and the Bonnie Blue are historical items. Remember one of the real heroes of Maryland is Francis Scott Key, writer of the Star Spangled Banner. He was an acquaintance of Justice Taney. His sister was married to Justice Taney. Shall Mr. Key be erased because of his family relationship and friendliness with the Chief Justice?


I know Barbara Fritchie is sainted, especially here in Frederick. A local restaurant named in her honor is rather popular despite her Union leanings.


 “Mr. Lincoln’s War” ended 151 years ago.


Removing vestiges of that period, fighting over the flags and emblems, won’t change the hearts of the populace. A sincere change in parenting, homes, schools and more disciplined living will solve lots of individual problems. But somehow “all real Americans love to fight.”


Political parties, government on every level won’t resolve these matters. It will take lots of families to make things better.


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