Friday, July 26, 2013

Taking a Stand for Maryland's History,  Heritage and Geography

This letter appeared on 25 July in The County Times, a St. Mary's County weekly newspaper.   

To the Editor:

The St. Mary's County Division of Tourism website states that during the “Civil War” Maryland had “Union loyalty and Southern sympathy,” a sophistry that is popular lately with those who are attempting to revise Maryland's history. Maryland was held in the Union by force as the North's own official records bear out. The website also implies that St. Mary's County was divided in that ugly internecine conflict because though most St. Mary's whites were “secesh,” 600 African-Americans “from” the county wore blue. In the occupied South, and that includes Maryland, however, there naturally would have been many slaves and freedmen joining the Union army. They would have had no such opportunity in unoccupied Southern states. The fact that black Marylanders fought for the North does not prove the state's loyalty to Lincoln. It is a non sequitur to consider a conquered Southern state a loyal Northern state.

And completely disregarding latitude, the Division of Tourism calls Point Lookout a Northern prison and designates Maryland as “physically part of the North.” To the contrary, the infamous Point Lookout was not located in the North any more than was Virginia's Fortress Monroe. It was a prison established by the Yankees in occupied Maryland, it's purpose as much to keep the local secessionist population in check as to keep Confederate soldiers penned up. Maryland is south of the Mason-Dixon. For a little geographical perspective, consider that ninety five percent of Maryland lies east not north of Virginia. Annapolis is south of Winchester, while the southernmost point of Maryland is well south of Charlottesville.

Until more recent times Maryland has been considered part of Dixie by most Americans. She is being reconstructed by South haters, by carpetbaggers who despise the Old Line State but who have come here for the jobs created by military installations, the vast federal bureaucracy in nearby D.C. and local governmental offices such as the Division of Tourism. These newcomers with a profound and uninformed condescension have destroyed our way of life, ridiculed our ancient Tidewater speech and traditions to near extinction, replaced our comity with Northern rudeness and vulgarity. They have even tried to outlaw our state song because its words, including a reference to “Northern scum,” irrefutably affirm that which they have tried so smugly to deny. But no matter how many lies about our state these Yankee-come-lately cultural cleansers promote, Maryland, which Jefferson Davis called the Outpost of the South, will always have a Southern history, heritage and geography.

Joyce Bennett
Maryland League of the South
Clements, Maryland