Having asked for input regarding who should be Virginia’s person of the year for 1861, I felt that I also had to ask the same for Maryland. This time, however, Robert E. Lee is not an option, creating what is, I think, a more challenging question to answer. Who stands out as “Person of the Year” for Maryland, for 1861?
Before you answer, however, I feel a need to point out a few things.
Just two weeks ago, in Washington Post’s “A House Divided”, the SCV’s Brag Bowling started-off (in a piece focused on the Baltimore Plot to kill Lincoln) talking about Maryland’s “Yankee problem”. There are a number of half-truths in this piece, and frankly, I feel the piece is a re-purposing of history. In addition to problems with the “Yankee problem” angle, I find it odd that Bowling writes, “No true history of this period in Maryland’s history would be complete without knowing more of the picture.” Indeed, perhaps he should take a lesson from his own words, because it’s clear he’s ignoring Maryland’s Unionists, I think, in order to bolster his “bad Lincoln, good Confederacy, poor downtrodden Marylanders” angle. Also, while true that Breckenridge carried the state, his margin was less than one percent (John Bell landing in a strong second). Bowling goes on to mention Lincoln’s ordering “the arrest and detention of anyone suspected of subversive deeds or utterances while suspending the writ of habeas corpus.” Yes, but, I always find it funny how Confederate celebrationists seem to remember this, yet forget (or aren’t aware of???) the oppression of its own citizens who didn’t embrace the Confederacy and its “cause”.
It’s not that I’m denying that those who were sympathetic to the Confederacy felt as Bowling suggests, but let’s be honest and really tell a more complete history of Maryland in the war. Let’s take care in also pointing out that, while some certainly must have felt oppressed under Lincoln’s decisions, other Marylanders likely felt a sense of relief. By the way, that’s an option that Virginians didn’t have.
So, with this in mind, who should we consider? I’ll ask similar questions to those that I asked in regard to Virginians…
What, exactly, would make someone a “person of the year”? Would a consideration be, perhaps, that person’s demonstrated effort at preventing war…? Would the person be evaluated strictly on personal allegiance and/or adherence to personal principles? Does he/she have to be a warrior? A politician? Do we look only at people who had some bearing on the decisions that took place leading up to the crisis in Maryland over the issue of secession? Perhaps you find something favorable with Roger Taney, T. Parkin Scott, G.W. Brown, Thomas H. Hicks, Frances Key Howard, John Merryman, Francis Thomas, George P. Kane, or Bradley T. Johnson. Does it boil down to personal sympathy for Unionists or secessionists, or is it based on the man and his principles?
Who did Maryland and Marylanders a service? A disservice?
As with the vote on Virginia’s Person of the Year for 1861, I’m opening the floor to nominations, with explanation as to why YOU, the reader, would vote for a particular person. Remember, it’s just for 1861. Keep in mind, the people I named above are just a few names that come to mind on the fly. Certainly, there are more who might be considered. It doesn’t have to be a man. Perhaps there’s a woman, or perhaps an African-American who comes to mind.
Once (and if) I get enough nominations (accompanied by explanation… in 90 words or less… as to why), I’ll post a voting option on the blog.
Please give it some thought, and get back to me.