Lawmakers discuss makeover of Maryland state song

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Maryland lawmakers are thinking maybe it’s time to find a way to scrub ‘Northern scum’ – and a few other sensitive pre-Civil War phrases – from the official state song. ‘Maryland, My Maryland,’ set to the traditional seasonal tune of ‘O, Tannenbaum,’ was written in 1861 and adopted as the state song in 1939. But now some lawmakers are pushing for a change to the warlike language in what was originally a poem that doubled as a call to arms. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller wants a new commission to examine the song and consider changing some stanzas to reflect the state’s diversity and remove offensive phrases. ‘I love history, but there comes a time when you have to adjust,’ Miller, a Democrat, told senators yesterday. A Maryland House of Delegates committee voted down a bill to change the song because members were reluctant to tinker with history. That bill – and another still making its way through the Senate – would have replaced the words written by James Ryder Randall in 1861 with ones penned by John T. White in 1894 describing the state’s natural beauty. Randall’s poem calls for Maryland to secede from the Union – at a time before the Civil War when Maryland residents sympathized with the Confederacy. The song begins with a hostile reference to President Abraham Lincoln, who brought troops through Baltimore en route to protect Washington: ‘The despot’s heel is on thy shore, Maryland! His torch is at thy temple door, Maryland!’ It ends with a call for the state to stand up to the Union: ‘She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb – Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum! She breaths! She burns! She’ll come! Maryland! My Maryland!’