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GOP Governor Nixes 'Relic of the Confederacy'

Larry Hogan approves repeal of Maryland's Civil War-era state song, which refers to 'Northern scum'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2021 7:58 AM CDT

(Newser) – Since 1939, "Maryland, My Maryland" has served as Maryland's state song, but its 82-year-old reign has just come to an end. On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan OKed a repeal of the Civil War-era tune after a longtime bipartisan effort to nix it over its controversial lyrics—including referring to the Union as "Northern scum" and calling Abraham Lincoln a "tyrant" and "despot." "It is a relic of the Confederacy, which is clearly outdated and out of touch," Hogan said in a signing ceremony on Tuesday, reports WDVM. The song, sung to the tune of "O Tannenbaum," was written in the 1860s by James Ryder Randall, a poet and journalist who served a stint in the Confederate navy and who desperately wanted Maryland to "take what he saw as its rightful place among the states that left the Union to form the Confederacy," per the Maryland State Archives.

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NPR reports that Randall's song became a Confederate "anthem ... used as a rallying cry against what Southerners saw as Northern oppression." Efforts to remove it as state song have stretched for decades, with the Washington Post noting that the movement to do so picked up again over the past year, as a "racial reckoning" across the country that has included removing Confederate statues and monuments took hold. Last summer, Adrienne Jones, the state's Democratic House speaker and the first African American in that role, reignited the push to repeal the song, and in March it went to a vote in the state's House of Delegates, with some Republican resistance. "We have a lot of cancel culture going on, and we're canceling everything," House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga said, per Maryland Matters. Democratic Delegate Samuel Rosenberg pushed back: "It is not cancel culture to say our state should not be represented, should not be honoring these words, as our state song." (Read more Maryland stories.)

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