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Interpretive Essays

Politics and Law
Whitman H. Ridgway

[The author constructs a clear and concise historical overview of his subject around its four most salient elements: governmental structure, the franchise, political factions and parties, and the codification of state law. - Eds.]

Politics and law are the bases of citizenship and government. Government generates and administers laws; the art of politics is to influence government; and in Maryland citizenship has usually been the source of both. James Madison articulated a fundamental conundrum about this complex relationship in The Federalist No. 51: "In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to controul the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to controul itself. A dependence on the people is no doubt the primary controul on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions." These auxiliary precautions include written documents defining and limiting the powers of government, from Lord Baltimore's Charter of 1632 to the most recent state constitution, as well as more mundane accommodations, such as the emergence of political parties and the manner in which power is shared in society. Madison's assumption in 1787 that government ought to rest on the consent of the governed, that is "the people," is anything but self-evident. It was a minor concern to the Calverts when they petitioned the King to establish a Catholic-tolerating colony in Maryland. Indeed, Madison's definition of who the people were was far less inclusive in 1787 than ours is today.

I: The Proprietor's Government: From Vision to Reality

The Charter of 1632 granted Lord Baltimore and his successors considerable latitude in creating a government in the wilderness between the soon-to-be disputed boundaries of Virginia and Pennsylvania. Subject only to fealty to the King, a promise to adopt laws "with the Advice, Assent, and Approbation of the Free-Men ... or of their Delegates or Deputies, whom We will shall be called together for the framing of Laws...," laws which would not be repugnant to those of England, and a guarantee that those who migrated to the new colony would continue to enjoy "... all Privileges, Franchises and Liberties of this our Kingdom of England," they had a free hand in creating any type of government they pleased.

In the abstract, the governmental structure they established appeared ideally suited for taming a wilderness. Offering generous land grants to settlers who would bear the cost of sponsoring other immigrants, and the promise to run their land holdings along the pattern of the old English manors, which gave considerable power and privileges to the manor lord, the Calverts hoped to defray the cost of settling the new colony and to ensure political stability. The Proprietor would be at the top of this political pyramid based upon manor estates and subjects.

This manor system proved inadequate from its implementation. The root of the problem was that the Calverts could not recruit enough wealthy adventurers to settle the province and to establish a proper manorial system. The topography of the colony, furthermore, with its many rivers and tributaries fanning out from the central Chesapeake Bay, encouraged diffuse settlement patterns rather than one which would support a manorial system.

It is not surprising that settlement eventually would be followed by the "Time of Troubles" and that the Calvert dream would prove to be elusive. The Chesapeake region proved deadly for European settlers, many of whom did not survive long enough to become "seasoned" to the local diseases, so that it took several generations to establish a self-perpetuating population. Virginians who had established settlements in the territory claimed by Lord Baltimore, such as William Claiborne, resisted and undermined his authority in the new colony, and challenged it in London. Furthermore, the Puritan Revolution in the mid-seventeenth century unleashed a fury of Protestant efforts to eliminate this heretical "Catholic colony." By far the most devastating was Richard Ingle's attack on St. Mary's County in 1645, which destabilized the colony and encouraged many to abandon it altogether. By 1648 there were fewer than 250 people in the area.

The political society that emerged from the chaos of the mid-seventeenth century was far different from that envisioned by Lord Baltimore. The manor ideal was replaced by political units based upon the county. Proving remarkably resilient to the continued political dislocations associated with the Puritan challenges to the Catholic Proprietor, the justices of the peace and the county court provided stability and order, creating a system that endured well into the twentieth century as the basis for local government. Given the short life expectancy in this period, it is not surprising that men without significant land-holdings or social pedigree, indeed some of whom had been indentured servants not long before their appointment, served on local juries, were appointed to the county courts, or were elected to the Assembly. Indeed, one of the more remarkable developments in this period was the establishment of an indigenous elite which quickly established itself in colonial government as a counter-force to the Proprietor and his agents. Their greatest successes were in the Assembly.

The Calvert's promise to adopt laws "with the Advice, Assent, and Approbation of the Free-Men ... or of their Delegates or Deputies, whom We will shall be called together for the framing of Laws..." was far more tentative than it appears. From the modern perspective, it indicates a commitment to form some sort of representative body, through which the settlers could share the "framing of laws." The question which would divide the Proprietor and the settlers would be their respective roles in this process. The Proprietor favored a system where he would formulate laws to which the settlers would respond; the settlers saw their role as law makers. This debate was transformed when the Protestants wrestled the colony from Calvert control during the Glorious Revolution, and Maryland became a Royal Colony. With the arrival of the first Royal Governor, the leadership in the Assembly successfully asserted its right to initiate legislation, which reversed their former roles thereafter. Now the Governor, and after the Restoration, the Proprietor and his appointees, was forced into the role of approving or disapproving legislation from the Assembly. Physically the changes associated with the Glorious Revolution were reflected by moving the capital from St. Mary's City to Annapolis in 1695.

One of the most notable achievements in the seventeenth century was the adoption of An Act Concerning Religion, also known as the Toleration Act, in 1649. The Charter of 1632, in deference to the fact that Britain was a Protestant nation, could not give precedence to the Catholic Church. Eschewing the creation of a religious establishment, where taxes were collected to support religion, the Calverts believed that religion should be a private affair, and that the various denominations ought to co-exist peacefully in public. In an effort to attract Virginia Puritans to settle in Maryland, the Assembly adopted the Toleration Act, which was a commitment to religious pluralism and its free exercise. This noble experiment was soon undercut by the politics of the Puritan Revolution abroad and at home in the mid-seventeenth century. When the Puritans dominated the Assembly in 1654 they forbade Catholics from openly practicing their faith. Thereafter the Toleration Act represented more of an aspirational ideal than an achievable goal in this religiously troubled era.

The Charter guarantee that all settlers would enjoy "...all Privileges, Franchises and Liberties of this our Kingdom of England" proved equally vexatious to the Proprietors. Whenever their essential rights were in dispute during the proprietary period, Marylanders appealed to the King for protection against arbitrary government. Later, beginning with the Stamp Act crisis in 1765, they would claim their historic rights and liberties as justification for their opposition to Parliamentary policies.

The American Revolution brought the Proprietary period to an end. The Calverts had lost their charter once before, as a consequence of the Glorious Revolution, after which the colony reverted to Royal control. They regained it in 1715, however, after Benedict Leonard Calvert, who had converted to the Anglican Church, successfully petitioned for the restoration of the proprietorship. By the late eighteenth century, many Marylanders found both continued Proprietary and colonial rule oppressive, and the events of the 1760s led to independence. The Charter of 1632 would be replaced by the Constitution of 1776.

II: Republican Government: From the Revolution to the Present

The Maryland Constitution of 1776 reflected tensions between the two influential ideologies of the revolutionary era, republicanism and democracy, which would animate state politics thereafter. Echoing the influence of John Locke, the Declaration of Rights articulated the new social and political contract between the people and their governors. More than a bill of rights, where certain essential rights were reserved to the people, it stipulated that all power emanated from the people and that the governors were accountable to them; indeed, they were their trustees.

Yet the structure of the new government kept the sovereign people at arms length. Male citizens who met a minimum property requirement voted directly for delegates to the general assembly and indirectly for the Senate. Every five years voters elected Senatorial Electors who would then meet together to elect a fifteen member Senate. If there was a vacancy in the Senate between elections, then the Senate itself selected a replacement. The people had no direct voice in the election of the Governor, who was elected indirectly by the joint legislature, nor for the selection of most local offices, which were appointed by the Governor, with the concurrence of his Executive Council.

Republican theory did not require greater popular participation. Frequent elections for the delegates to the lower house and the Governor tethered the trustees to their constituents. The five year term of the indirectly elected Senate gave it independence from undue influence from the executive and the popularly based assembly and provided the whole system with stability. Age and property qualifications for office-holders were designed to keep power in the hands of white Christian men who had a greater stake in society than voters. The Revolutionary generation attempted to craft a system of government that would balance direct and indirect elections to keep the destabilizing power of the people in check, as well as assure that office-holders would remain true to their trust, by requiring them to be substantial citizens, who would serve short terms in office.

Not all people enjoyed equal political rights or citizenship. Slaves and women did not enjoy the franchise, nor did they have equal rights to men. Office-holding was also limited to Christians. It would only be in 1826 that legislation was adopted allowing Jews to access to public office holding and equal rights and privileges as enjoyed by Christians.

The gap between the republican and democratic systems was evident in the notion of representation. Rather than establish representation on population, as we do in the twentieth century, the constitution perpetuated the colonial system based upon geographic units. Each country, regardless of area or population, sent four delegates to the legislature. The cities of Annapolis and Baltimore sent two each. The structure of the Senate reflected the additional influence of regionalism which was pervasive at that time. Nine members were to be elected from the Western Shore and six from the Eastern Shore. The effect of this system was to give smaller counties greater influence in the legislature and to empower the Eastern Shore over the next century when population would gravitate to the Western Shore in ever greater numbers.

Several external factors, notably demography and democratic ideology, undermined this republican system. Population exploded on the Western Shore, due primarily to immigration from abroad and migration from other areas, while counties in Southern Maryland and on the Eastern Shore changed very little. The demands for greater representation by residents of Baltimore City, whose population increased from 26,514 people in 1800 to 80,620 in 1830, and the more populous counties were rebuffed until the constitutional crisis of 1836. Reformers boycotted the scheduled meeting of the Senatorial Electoral College in an attempt to force the election of a Senate sympathetic to reform. Governor Thomas W. Veazey of Cecil County averted the potential chaos of not being able to elect a government by re-calling the old Senate. This action, based upon dubious constitutional authority, broke the will of the recalcitrant electors who joined the College to elect a new Senate. True to republican principles, the legislature eventually gave the Western Shore greater representation by creating two new counties, Carroll in 1837 and Howard in 1838, and awarded Baltimore City equal representation to the largest county in 1838, without committing the state to popular representation. Even the reformers from the more populous counties wanted to limit Baltimore City's representation.

By 1850 the mal-apportionment of the state was no longer acceptable. Baltimore City now numbered 169,054 souls and the Western Shore had 78 per cent of the state's population. The new Constitution of 1851 allowed citizens from each county and Baltimore City to elect one Senator directly, and to send representatives to the general assembly based upon population. The Constitution still allowed for a minimum of two delegates for each county. Universal manhood suffrage proved more elusive and obtaining the vote for women would take even longer.

The reforms embodied in the 1864 and 1867 constitutions had less to do with the advance of democracy than with the tensions associated with the Civil War. Few had forgotten how close Maryland had come to secession in 1861, so that a priority for the 1864 reformers was to nullify the influence of southern sympathizers. The elective franchise section was changed to disenfranchise Marylanders who had left the state to fight for the Confederacy, to live there, or who had given it "any aid, comfort, countenace, or support..," and to make it difficult for them to regain the full rights of citizenship. Furthermore, office-holders were required to take a new oath of allegiance to support the state and union and to repudiate the rebellion. The influence of the small counties which had a large slave population, many of which supported secession and impeded union efforts during the war, was reduced by basing representation solely on white population. The Constitution of 1864 also emancipated the slaves. Freedom, however, did not mean equality. The franchise was restricted to "white" males. Additionally, the Maryland legislature refused to ratify both the 14th Amendment, which conferred citizenship rights on former slaves, and the 15th Amendment, which gave the vote to African Americans.

The provisions of the Constitution of 1864 which disqualified Confederate supporters from voting proved to be especially controversial thereafter. Expatriates returned to Maryland after Appomattox and soon after the legislature formulated an official set of procedures, the Registry Act of 1866, designed to provide election officials with a list of questions, designed to make certain that the franchise would be securely held by pro-Union voters, which would be asked every prospective voter. Their return also re-invigorated the Democratic party which had been decimated as a political force during the war years. Ultimately the provisions of the Registry Act were applied leniently and by 1868 the Democratic party regained its domination of the state legislature

In light of this political transformation, it is not surprising that there was considerable support to re-write the Constitution of 1864. It may have emancipated the slaves but it failed to disenfranchise southern sympathizers. The federal government, whose military presence had sustained the Unionist government during the war, had withdrawn its forces at its conclusion, with the result that the popular support shifted from the Republican to the Democratic party. One hint of this change was the deletion of the first article in the 1864 Declaration of Rights stating that "...we hold it to be self-evident that all men are created equally free...."

The Constitution of 1867 restored much of what had been changed three years earlier. The provisions disenfranchising southern supporters were considerably weakened and population again became the basis for representation, which strengthened the legislative influence of the smaller counties with large African American populations. It could not re-impose slavery on former slaves but it continued to minimize their influence by limiting the franchise to "white males." There was a significant change in the power of the Governor in that he was given a legislative veto.

The Maryland Constitution would be modified nearly 200 times over the following century. By 1966 there was a feeling that so much had changed in the state that Maryland voters authorized a convention to draft a modern constitution. The proposed constitution modernized Maryland's government, especially its judiciary, in a number of significant ways. Unfortunately, the convention delegates were far more committed to reform than the politicians or voters, so that the proposed constitution was rejected by a popular referendum. Many of its recommendations for modernizing government, however, would be implemented by the legislature under the influence of Governor Marvin Mandel and progressive legislative leaders.

The question of the fairness of representation in Maryland had been revisited earlier in the 1960s. The existing system benefitted the smaller counties and failed to increase representation to those where population had grown. Following the Supreme Court's Baker v. Carr (1962) decision, mandating one man one vote, and the reports of several electoral reform commissions, Governor Tawes pushed a reluctant legislature towards electoral reform. Ultimately, after further judicial intervention, the more populous jurisdictions obtained greater representation, and the congressional and state senatorial districts were equalized.

Despite such reforms, the meaning of representative government is still being contested today. Minorities assert that they are under-represented in county, state, and congressional districts because of the way in which district lines have been drawn by the state legislature. They claim that "at large" county districting, "multi-member" House of Delegates districts, and the practice of creating "minority" legislative districts, results in minority under-representation. Some groups advocate minority districts as a means to increase minority legislative representation. Others argue that this process actually hurts this goal by reducing their influence in other districts so that fewer minorities are elected to the legislature, with the result that less attention is paid to their concerns. However these issues are settled, they illustrate the core value of representation, as well as the structure of government, as fundamental components of republican government. The fact that these issues must be faced every decade after a census is taken is a tribute to the wisdom of the Framers of the Constitution over two hundred years ago.

III: Government for Whom? The Franchise

James Madison's assertion that government ought to depend on the people is an essential element of republican theory. On one level, that reliance may be limited to the principle of frequent elections, where the sovereign people may judge their trustees on a regular basis. A more fundamental consideration, however, concerns the electorate itself. Who are "the people" Madison was talking about? Are his "people" the same as those with whom electoral power is entrusted today; if not, why were they excluded then and included now?

Over time, there have been seven elements - citizenship, residency, age, property holding, gender, race, and literacy - which have been used to define the elective franchise. Variations in how these elements were applied over time reveal changing attitudes towards the underlying assumptions about the basis for political responsibility in Maryland's system.

Citizenship is an essential requirement for voting. One has to be a citizen to vote but not all Maryland residents are citizens. Women, Indians, indentured servants, and slaves were not considered to be citizens in the colonial period and did not qualify to vote; although indentured servants enjoyed some rights as citizens of the realm. In the late seventeenth century, when Puritans challenged the Catholic domination of the colonial leadership, religion served as a means for political disqualification. Catholics lost the franchise in 1718 and regained it only with the adoption of the Declaration of Rights in 1776. During the Revolution, the vote was restricted to those who gave allegiance the patriot cause. Neither non-associators, who refused the take the oath and were considered as being residents, nor Tories, who maintained their allegiance to Great Britain, enjoyed the franchise. Allegiance to the state was used again during the Civil War to disqualify active supporters of the Confederacy which was then written into the Constitution of 1864. Caucasian women were recognized as citizens prior to the ratification of the 19th Amendment but they did not enjoy the vote. The 13th Amendment freed the slaves, but it was not until the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868 that African Americans by law became citizens of the nation and the state and not until the 15th Amendment in 1870 that they gained the vote. Even then, African American males were not given the franchise until the adoption of the 15th Amendment. Resident aliens did not enjoy the rights of citizens. Today a voter has to be a citizen of the United States and a resident of Maryland.

Citizens must also meet a residency requirement in order to exercise the franchise. This requirement is designed to assure that a voter has an persisting commitment and some knowledge of the area where he lives. The current requirement of a year follows the pattern established in the Constitution of 1776.

The age component of the franchise has been the most unambiguous. Linking voting with the age of majority, it was defined as 21 for many years. This was reduced to 18 during the Viet Nam war on the theory that if one could be inducted to fight one should be able to vote. Surprisingly, this apparently was not a concern during World War II.

The relationship between property-holding and the franchise would be a core value from settlement through the early nineteenth century. Property ownership meant that one had a stake in society and stake-holders ought to have a say in political affairs. The question became, however, how much property ought to be required to qualify to vote.

At the time of settlement there were essentially two classes of people in the colony. Those who were affluent enough to purchase large quantities of land, and to sponsor other settlers, enjoyed the undisputed right to participate in political affairs. Those without independent means were able to indenture themselves, that is to exchange their labor for a specific term of years for the cost of bringing them to the colony, after which they were promised land as well as their freedom. Since property-holding was the measure of independence, those formerly indentured servants who actually took title to the land would enjoy access to the political system.

Over time, indenture disappeared and people challenged property qualification as a criterion for voting. The limitation of the franchise to land holders excluded artisans and landless workers so that property qualifications in the eighteenth century were redefined to include a minimum amount of property other than land. This still excluded those who fell below the threshold. It became an especially contentious issue during the Revolution when militiamen, who were being asked to fight for the state, demanded a reduction in the monetary value of property qualifications so that they could participate in government. The legislature ignored their demand, but inflation during the war eroded this barrier.

The democratic impulse, where an individual citizen standing alone was sufficient qualification for voting, was attained early in the nineteenth century. By the Constitution of 1776, all freemen who had freehold to fifty acres of land, or who had property in the state above thirty pounds current money, qualified to vote. The legislature abandoned property qualifications for voting, as well as for membership in the legislature, in 1810.

Women did not obtain the right to vote in Maryland until the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. During the colonial and early national periods, males considered women to be a dependent class, belonging to their father's household prior to marriage and to their husband's thereafter. Ironically, considering how strongly Americans asserted their right to representation in Parliament in the 1760s, men had no shame in justifying the subordination of women by claiming that they enjoyed "virtual representation" in this male dominated political system. There is evidence that widows were allowed to vote occasionally in Maryland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This may be explained because widows had been emancipated, in that they were no longer members of their father's or husband's households, and that the law recognized their ability to control their property which conferred the necessary independence to exercise the franchise. Between 1776 and 1807 widows who met the property qualification were able to vote on a regular basis in New Jersey. This anomaly of gender relationships did not long survive. After widows strongly supported the Federalists in a hotly contested election in 1798, the victorious Republicans added "male" as a voting qualification.

The women's rights movement, which took shape in the early nineteenth century, asserted that the principles of "virtual representation" were no more appropriate in America after Independence than it had been in the colonial period, and that women could never be independent without the vote. The logic of this proposition was not apparent to nineteenth century males, however, and the battle for women's suffrage was complicated by other issues, such as abolitionism, immigration, prohibition, and gender relations. Some felt that involvement in politics would coarsen the "fair" sex and divert their attention from their pre-eminent responsibilities of household and motherhood. Prior to the emancipation of slaves, some reformers opposed the introduction of women's rights issues because they feared it would divide the abolitionist movement. The publication of the Seneca Falls Declaration in 1848, asserting the equal rights of women and demanding the franchise, was endorsed more by women than by men. Frederick Douglass, the former Maryland slave who had become an abolitionist spokesmen, was one of the few editors to support these goals.

The de-gendering of voting was ultimately achieved 1920. The Women's Suffrage movement was revitalized in the Progressive Era. After the ratification of the 19th amendment, which again the state legislature refused to endorse, Governor Ritchie called a special session of the legislature to implement women's suffrage, and then initiated a campaign to register women voters in Maryland.

Race has also been used as a qualification for voting. Although slaves were excluded from voting because they could not be citizens, and indeed before the law they were considered to be a form of property and had almost no enforceable rights, the Constitution of 1776 did not mention race in defining voter qualifications. One consequence of this was that free black males, that is former slaves who had been manumitted, were able to vote if they satisfied the property qualifications for voting. It is not clear how many Free Blacks actually voted, but by the late 1790s there was growing opposition to their exercising the franchise, and the legislature added "white" as a voter qualification in 1802. The Constitution of 1851 specifically gave the legislature the responsibility to legislate for the free colored population.

Emancipation did not include the right to vote. The 13th Amendment freed the slave, and the 14th Amendment presumably established equal citizenship, but not until the ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870 was the right to vote guaranteed by the national government. Like many other guarantees, it proved to be flawed. States under the federal system still enjoyed a great deal of latitude in determining voter qualifications. Various devices - from literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses - were employed to disqualify African Americans from voting. For a time, these efforts were opposed by federal authorities and in federal courts, but by the end of the nineteenth century there was an acceptance of ostensibly non-discriminatory tests. That is, if election officials could show that their procedures were not overtly biased, where some whites were disqualified along with African Americans, courts accepted such restrictions as being non-discriminatory and constitutional.

The most blatant effort to disqualify Maryland African American voters occurred in 1904. Democrats attacked the electoral strength of the Republican Party by proposing a constitutional amendment disenfranchising Negroes, who had supported the party of "the Great Emancipator" since Reconstruction. Although this effort failed, other "reforms," and more overt methods of intimidation, made it increasingly difficult for African Americans to vote as the twentieth century progressed. The adoption of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 re-invigorated the federal commitment to guaranteeing the ballot-box to all citizens.

Reformers and good government advocates favored using literacy tests to make sure that voters would make intelligent decisions at the polls. Facing governmental corruption and boss-dominated machine politics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, reformers sought to break the alliance between the bosses and immigrant groups, who were willing to exchange their votes for economic benefits. Reformers hoped to break this nexus by introducing literacy tests. Objectively, such a system had merit. Who could argue with the ideal that voters should be literate, capable of reading the ballot, and able to comprehend the issues of the day. In practice, however, it proved to be a convenient device to strip the vote from disfavored groups, such as African Americans and immigrants.

IV. The Competition for Power: Factions and Parties over Time

From the establishment of political authority in colonial Maryland to the present times individuals have organized themselves in various ways into political groups. Partisanship flourished as soon as the colony was settled. Conflicts between earlier settlers from Virginia, and repeated Protestant challenges to the Catholic government, undermined political stability throughout the seventeenth century. Even after these troubles subsided, political rivalries developed around court and country parties during the later colonial period, so that much of the dissatisfaction in Maryland as the Revolution neared was less in response to Parliamentary abuses than to discontent with Proprietary policies.

Following Independence, with few exceptions, the formal structure of political rivalries within the state mirrored the national experience. As two party competitions emerged from national competition for electoral support, from the Federalist-Antifederalist rivalry over the adoption of the Constitution in 1787-1788 through the two party competition between the Democrats and Republicans today, they also took shape in Maryland. The exceptions, or variations, are what make Maryland interesting.

During the early nineteenth century, for instance, Maryland Federalists persisted longer as an active political movement than in other states. This party did not attract a broad popular base because of its elitist identity. Their longevity was explained by the arrogance of their political opponents, the Democratic Republicans, who allowed an anti-Federalist riot to get out of hand in Baltimore City in 1812, which made them martyrs. When it finally expired in the early 1820s, some former Federalist leaders, such as Roger B. Taney, emerged as early supporters of Andrew Jackson and his popularly based Democratic party.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Maryland is one of the few states where the "Know Nothing," or the American Party, thrived. It rose to national prominence as an anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic movement in the 1850s. Former Whig Party leaders, whose party had self-destructed as a national force after the Mexican War, purposefully ignored the nativist aspects of Know Nothingism while they took advantage of its electoral appeal to challenge the Democratic Party, the party of urban immigrants and proponents of slavery. This period would be characterized by electoral fraud and violence. The party would survive efforts to restrict its unsavory influence and emerged as a tentative bridge to the Union Party during the secession crisis.

The Republican Party, which formed in other areas of the country around 1860, had almost no support in Maryland. But a Union Party did because its pro-slavery, anti-secession stance appealed to many in this border slave state. It was only because of the physical presence and support of the national government that Maryland did not secede and join the Confederacy. Even if the Democratic Party was tarred as the party of secession, the Union Party had a very limited popular base in Maryland, and not even the disenfranchisement of southern supporters guaranteed its continued existence. One reason was that, few white Marylanders supported the idea of extending the franchise to African Americans. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Union Party did not long survive the restoration of peace and the reassimilation of former confederates into the polity.

The period between the end of the Civil War and well into the 1920s was dominated by machine politics. First as the Gorman-Raisin machine, and later under the leadership of "Sonny" Mahon, the political machine would thrive as business leaders, politicians, and immigrant voters exchanged favors at the public trough. Good government reformers rallied against this abuse, and sometimes won occasional electoral victories, but their efforts tended to scale back rather than destroy the roots of the machine system.

The appearance of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal transformed American politics in the 1930s. In Maryland, the story is a little different. Governor Albert C. Ritchie, who would dominate state politics from the late 1910s to the mid-1930s, was a "state's rights" Democrat, who fought against the centralizing influence of the New Deal.

During the 1950s and 1960s the concept of "state's rights" became synonymous with Southern resistance to the Civil Rights movement. Politicians like Alabama's Governor George Wallace, calling for continued white supremacy and resistance to the involvement of the national government in racial affairs, found some support in Maryland.

Maryland political parties are closer to their national counterparts today. The lure of federal money, from highway funds to support for urban renewal and social programs, eroded the popularity of Governor Ritchie's "state's rights" stance among state officials after his death in 1936. The new "state's rights" position is whether the federal government ought to direct such programs from afar or whether it is better to give the states block-grants and allow them to implement programs with minimal federal interference.

V. Law

The law has been an important part of Maryland history. At its core is the common law, which was followed during the colonial period and continued thereafter by statute, and established the working context of the legal system. Occasionally, issues still arise in modern adjudication which are not covered by statute requiring that judges revisit the common law treatises of Sir Edward Coke and William Blackstone to decide the issues.

English common law had played an important role in the country party's challenge to the Proprietor's powers in the eighteenth century. Claiming the liberties and rights of Englishmen based upon the common law and custom, they argued that the Proprietor's powers were limited and that the King and Parliament should protect them. It is not surprising, therefore, that Article 3 of the Constitution of 1776 stated that "The inhabitants of Maryland are entitled to the common law of England...."

The problem, of course, was to identify those parts of the common law that were applicable in Maryland. Beginning in 1793 the state legislature initiated a process to collect them which culminated in the publication of William Kilty's two volume, The Laws of Maryland...(1799). Kilty collected the laws passed by the Assembly from 1692 through 1799, which were then updated thereafter on a regular basis, growing to seven volumes in 1818. This important publication supplanted the existing Bacon's Code published before independence. Kilty also authored A Report of all such English Statutes... (1811) which was a compilation of English statutes in effect in Maryland in the colonial period. In addition to these valuable works, Virgil Maxcy published another collection, The Laws of Maryland..., also known as Maxcy's Code (1811), which was initially issued in three volumes.

By 1825 there was growing opposition to the common law's continued influence on Maryland practice. A petition from Baltimore citizens to the legislature claimed that Maryland's adherence to the common law represented a continuing subservience to Britain, had a limiting influence by emphasizing technicalities, and was inconsistent with the trend of modern laws enacted by the state legislature. This movement ultimately resulted in the publication of Clement Dorsey's three volume The General Public Statutory Law...1692 to 1839 (1840), also known as Dorsey's Code of 1839.

The adoption of the Legal Code of 1860 marked an important transformation in Maryland law. In the first place, it was "adopted" by the legislature which meant that all previous enactments were repealed and that it was recognized as the definitive statement of the law. Rather than conforming to previous compilations, which essentially listed the legislative acts in the order in which they were passed, this Code divided Maryland law into 98 titles, or subject headings, which was followed thereafter with some modern expansion. This legal code format modernized the law and formed an important element of efficient legal practice.

Considering that Marylanders demanded that the Proprietor and the King recognize their rights of Englishmen during the colonial period, it is not surprising that they adopted one of the most comprehensive Declaration of Rights upon which to base their new government in 1776. The rights and liberties of Marylanders have also been affected by the interpretation of the national Bill of Rights. The difference between the two was clearly stated by Chief Justice John Marshall in a Maryland case, Barron v. Baltimore (1833), where he differentiated between rights guaranteed by the state and the federal constitutions. This relationship changed with the ratification of the 14th Amendment which protected the rights of national citizens against state encroachments. This was essentially a dead-letter issue until the twentieth century, when the Supreme Court began selectively to incorporate the protection of the national Bill of Rights against the states. This process has diminished the importance of the state Declaration of Rights as the state courts have followed the doctrine of in pari materia. That is, where state guaranteed rights are construed with reference to the same national rights they will be subordinated to them.

As the Warren Court was replaced by Supreme Courts which were considered to be less interventionist there was a belief that state Declaration of Rights would become more important in the protection of individual liberties. This has been the case in limited areas, such as those states whose Declaration of Rights make guarantees not found in the Bill of Rights, such as equal rights for women or privacy, but this has not been a major trend in Maryland.

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