There's no law against singing about "Northern scum," but Maryland legislators have decided they don't want the lyrics in their state song anymore. A measure to remove the official designation from "Maryland, My Maryland" passed Monday. It's been the state song since 1939, though there have been attempts over the past four decades to change that, the Washington Post reports. In addition to calling on the state to secede from the Union to fight the "Northern scum," the Civil War-era song celebrates the Confederacy. "This has stained the pages of our law for too long," said the bill's sponsor. "The passage of this legislation is one more way that we can, as a state, take a stand on racism." Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said he doesn't like the song and probably will sign its repeal.
The song began as a poem in 1861, when Maryland was a border state, by James Ryder Randall. He was upset after a friend was shot during a clash in Baltimore, when Union troops marched through the city en route to Washington, per the AP. The song, to the tune of "O, Tannenbaum," opens with a reference to President Abraham Lincoln: "The despot's heel is on thy shore, Maryland! His torch is at thy temple door, Maryland!" Disagreement about what to replace the song with had stalled previous repeal efforts; that decision was delayed this time. Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore no longer plays the song before the annual Preakness Stakes, and the University of Maryland marching band stopped playing it before football games. (More Maryland stories.)