Civil War Chat

(October 9, 2017) Recently the University of Maryland ordered that the school’s marching band discontinue the tradition of playing the state song, Maryland, My Maryland, during its pre-game performance at each football game. The decision was triggered by a feeling that the lyrics should be censored because they suggests that many—perhaps most—of the state’s 1861 residents were opposed to coercing the seceded states back into the Union and that they objected to the dictatorial methods used to force Maryland to remain in the Union.

The first verse lyrics are provided below, excluding the “Maryland, My Maryland” refrain:

The despot’s heel is on thy shore.
His torch is at thy temple door.
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore
And be the battle-queen of yore.

William Safire explained in a 1984 New York Times column why the anthem should be retained even though the “despot” allusion…

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