Maryland's State Song May Lose 'Northern Scum' Dig

State Senate passes bill to modify Confederate-slanted Civil War anthem
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2016 10:26 AM CDT
Maryland's State Song May Lose 'Northern Scum' Dig
In this April 11, 2015, photo, Union Army Civil War re-enactors charge Confederate soldiers at the 150th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Appomattox Court House in Appomattox, Va.   (Marc Chase/The Times of Northwest Indiana via AP)

No one seems to take issue with Maryland's state flower (the black-eyed Susan), dog (the Chesapeake Bay retriever), or even dessert (the multi-layer Smith Island cake). But the state's Department of Legislative Services tells NBC News that lawmakers have tried more than once to dump "Maryland! My Maryland!"—a marching song soldiers belted out during the Civil War that became the state song in 1939—because of its Confederate ties and somewhat dread-inspiring lyrics, to no avail. But a state Senate vote Thursday, while not completely ditching the song that state Sen. Cheryl Kagan has called "shameful," approved 38-8 a bill that will at least modify some of the more questionable lyrics; it moves to the state House of Delegates next.

Sung to the comforting tune of "O Tannenbaum/O Christmas Tree," the song starts off with "The despot's heel is on thy shore" (a disparaging reference to Lincoln), moves on to more confrontational lines such as "Avenge the patriotic gore that flecked the streets of Baltimore," and then goes full-on battle cry with "She spurns the Northern scum! She breathes! She burns! She'll come! She'll come! Maryland! My Maryland!" (The "Northern scum" slur refers to the Union and its soldiers.) The lyrics were penned by James Ryder Randall in 1861 after one of his pals was shot and killed as he protested Union troops filing through Baltimore, per the AP. If the bill goes through, the more controversial wording will be removed, and lyrics from an 1894 poem describing the state's scenic beauty will be swapped in. (More Maryland stories.)

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