Maryland Bill Would 'Retire' State Song to 'Historic' Status - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Bill Would 'Retire' State Song to 'Historic' Status

Posted: Mar 16, 2018 12:46 PM Updated:

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- A majority of Maryland senators hope they've found an elusive compromise to handle the state's controversial state song: send it into retirement without erasing all recognition.

The Senate voted 30-13 to put "Maryland, My Maryland" on historic status and say its sensitive pre-Civil War references to "Northern scum" and a despotic President Abraham Lincoln don't reflect Marylanders' values today. The bill now goes to the House.

While it would no longer be the official state song, the measure doesn't completely jettison it, either. It designates it as a "historical state song."

Opponents of the measure say it just doesn't do much.

"The words are still there," said Sen. Bryan Simonaire, an Anne Arundel County Republican. "If they're so offensive, there're still in Maryland law. All we've done is put historical in front of state song, and it's still right there in Maryland law, so we've really added one word and we still have the same issue that we had before we had this bill."

But supporters say it makes a significant symbolic gesture. The measure says language in the poem disparaging Northerners and Lincoln are "inappropriate, and do not represent the ideas and values of Marylanders today."

"This bill acknowledges a dated, offensive, racist-themed song, that it's time to move forward," said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, said the song needs to be put aside until the state can come up with a new one.

"The song needs to be put away," Miller said.

The song was written in 1861 by James Ryder Randall. It became the state song in 1939. It calls for Maryland to secede from the Union before the Civil War when many Maryland residents sympathized with the Confederacy.

Previous attempts to change the song have stalled, partly because lawmakers were reluctant to tinker with history. But supporters have said recent events involving Confederate statues have highlighted the need for a change.

In August, several days after violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, Maryland officials removed from the statehouse grounds a statue of Roger Taney. Taney was the U.S. Supreme Court justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery and denied citizenship to African-Americans.

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