Keep “Maryland, My Maryland” as Our State Song
James Randall, a native of Baltimore, was in Louisiana when he heard the news of fighting in his native city in April of 1861. He immediately wrote the poem, "Maryland, My Maryland," and it was published in the New Orleans Delta on April 26.
Miss Jennie Cary, of Baltimore, set Randall's poem to a tune of a then popular college song, Lauriger Horatius (the melody originally came from the German Christmas song, O Tannenbaum). Miller and Beacham published the song in Baltimore in 1861.
"The despot's heel is on thy shore"
The word despot, as used here, refers to a person who wields power oppressively or tyrannically. The despot was none other than President Abraham Lincoln, and he was most definitely an oppressive tyrant. Tyrant is defined as: an absolute ruler who governs arbitrarily without constitutional or other restrictions.
Upon secession by South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, (secession was legal and not treason), President Lincoln called for the other states to place 75,000 militia at the service of the federal government. This action caused Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas also to secede rather than fight against fellow southerners.
The first troops to answer Lincoln's call were the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment of militia, and, as they moved through Baltimore, a pro-Southern crowd accosted the soldiers with epithet and projectiles (Pratt Street Riot). President Lincoln responded by sending federal troops to occupy Baltimore, and had various suspected Maryland secessionist leaders thrown in jail. Gov. Thomas H. Hicks, with his opponents in jail, was able to thwart any action on secession.
President Lincoln did not stop with just pro-secessionist politicians in Maryland, he even had politicians in other states arrested, closed down newspapers, had private mail and telegrams opened and read, confiscated property of "disloyal" citizens and authorized other atrocities against anyone that he thought disagreed with him.
To make matters worse, Mr. Lincoln (the despot) suspended the writ of habeas corpus, an act guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, and, by suspending it, the accused – for whatever reason they were being imprisoned – could not consult an attorney, get knowledge of the charges against them, and could be held indefinitely.
In Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution, the writ of habeas corpus is acknowledged and secured from federal infringement: “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended unless when in the Case of Rebellion or Invasion the Public Safety may require it." Article 1 deals with the authority Congress shall exercise. Article 2 describes the power of the executive department of the federal government. Both the sitting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at Lincoln's election, Roger Brooke Taney, and his predecessor, John Marshall, avowed that the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus is invested in Congress, not in the executive branch of the government, i.e. the president.
Lincoln's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus was clearly an unconstitutional act. Even some of America's staunchest advocates of federal supremacy had already gone on record confirming the fact. In Ex parte Merryman, Chief Justice Taney issued a writ of habeas corpus to a military officer who had arrested and imprisoned John Merryman. The officer, with the full backing of the commander-in-chief, refused to obey the order of the court. Congress had not suspended the writ of habeas corpus. Chief Justice Taney issued a stinging denunciation of President Lincoln and his unconstitutional action. Taney points out:
“The president has exercised a power which he does not possess under the Constitution...The only power...which the President possesses, when the "life, liberty or property" of a private citizen is concerned, is the power and duty prescribed in the 3rd Section of the 3rd Article, which requires "that he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed." He is not authorized to execute them himself, or through agents or officers, civil or military, appointed by himself, but he is to take care that they be faithfully carried into execution, as they are expounded and adjudged by the Co-ordinate Branch of the government to which that duty is assigned by the Constitution.”
Taney was executing his office according to the Constitution, legally, just as he did in the Dred Scott Decision. Perhaps that is why Frederick’s Roger Brooke Taney bust (which stood in City Hall square for 86 years) had be relegated to Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Although Maryland had a lot of Southern sympathizers, the question of whether the state would have seceded or not will never be known due to the illegal maneuvering of President Lincoln, the tyrannical despot, and his cronies.
"Maryland, My Maryland" expresses true sentiments and here are the reasons to support it. Just because you might wish it otherwise is no reason to change it as our state song.