Maryland history

Today marks the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. With over 23,000 combined casualties suffered by both the Union and Confederate armies, it remains the bloodiest day in American history. It’s hard to imagine the horror that ravaged this Maryland community when you walk the now peaceful fields of Antietam National Battlefield. Photo by National Park Service.

The Star Spangled Banner, or The Defense of Fort McHenry

Oh, say! can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming;
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:
Oh, say! does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In fully glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution!
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
                              - Francis Scott Key, July 4, 1814

Watch on

Sunrise over Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. At this site, parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains run almost north-south across the Virginia/West Virginia/Maryland countryside, but the Potomac River has eroded its way through the ridges. This gap hosts the meeting site between the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers - both of them are funneled along the ridges until they find a small gap right here. This site also served as a Civil War era munitions depot and was involved in several campaigns, including the Antietam Campaign in 1862 and John Brown’s raid before the war.

19th century postcard depicting Baltimore Harbor, with the steamboat Chester in the center of the image. Collections of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

On this day, May 31, in 1872, a Chesapeake steamboat was the object of one of the earliest pre-Jim Crow cases in Maryland. Josephine Carr, an African-American school teacher from Kent County, sued the steamboat Chester for an assault. The incident had taken place on May 14, when Carr sat in the steamboat’s main cabin- a space reserved for white passengers. When Carr refused to move, the captain and crew dragged her to the black-only forward cabin, where Carr declined to wait. Instead, she moved to the bow, where she stood until the Chester reached Chestertown and Carr disembarked. She would later file a libel suit against the Chester for her mistreatment.

Carr won her landmark case, and was awarded $25 damages. Carr’s case was one of several in which 19th century courts ruled in favor of blacks on transportation accommodations- a precursor to many such standoffs, which Rosa Parks would someday make famous.


Federal Judge Rules Maryland Failed To Provide A Remedy To Diversify Academic Programs At HBCUs

A federal judge has ruled that State of Maryland has failed to provide a remedy to diversify academic programs at its four HBCUs. The ruling also rejected a plan by civil rights groups aimed at putting the state’s HBCUs on a competitive playing field with traditionally white universities. Legal groups representing Morgan State University, Coppin State University, The University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Bowie State University have argued in the State of Maryland,  HBCU academic programs were duplicated and has given to traditionally white schools. This practice ultimately impacts students at HBCUs. Brenda Shum, Director of the Educational Opportunities Project for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law spoke with Roland Martin on NewsOne Now about the ruling on HBCUs in Maryland.