Everybody knows that “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key as he watched the British attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor during the War of 1812. But in 1861 Francis Key Howard wrote about his grandfather, “The flag which he then so proudly hailed, I saw waving at the same place over the victims of as vulgar and brutal despotism as modern times have witnessed.”
In 1861 Howard, also the grandson of Maryland’s foremost soldier of the War of Independence, John Eager Howard, was a prisoner in Fort McHenry, along with the mayor and sheriff of Baltimore, a congressman, and other public officials. The despotism he refers to is that of Abraham Lincoln. The arrest of these men, and the U.S. Army’s breakup of the Maryland legislature, were a result of Lincoln’s determination never to allow the people of Maryland to vote on secession. In 1860 he had received only 2,296 votes in Maryland among 92,649 cast, and the state had been carried by the Southern candidate, John C. Breckinridge. Maryland was also the heart of American Catholicism and was not popular with Lincoln’s New England WASP core of supporters.
Maryland was founded as a tobacco plantation colony like Virginia, and its way of life did not differ greatly from Virginia’s. Marylanders in the Confederate army were free volunteers, while those in the Northern army were largely foreigners and bounty collectors. Well into the 20th century, Maryland politics were conservative Southern Democrat. The state song was a Confederate ballad in which Lincoln appears as a bloodthirsty tyrant, and the state flag was that carried by Maryland Confederate soldiers. Baltimorean H.L. Mencken said that his city was less corrupt than other big cities because of its Southern base.
Chronicles contributor Joyce Bennett is a patriot holding a last outpost of the real Maryland. She knows the history and the original culture of her state. She has watched that pleasant and very American culture—its speech, manners, cuisine, attitudes, history, and traditions—being vigorously wiped out by newcomers who have turned Maryland into a mere minor part of the Northeastern megalopolis. The things lost are the things that constitute civilization and create community.
The author is very well informed about the past and the present. Her observations are spot on, and she is brave enough even to cherish a little hope. She speaks for us, the voiceless who are on the receiving end of cultural cleansing. My apologies to the many good folks who do not fit this description, but there is an American type, very numerous, who moves South for a better life, holds the locals in contempt, and sets out immediately upon arrival to recreate the evils from which he fled. Many there are who delight to see the South disappearing, but there are those of us here who do not think that replacing the old Southern ways with the shallow, traditionless, and materialist American “culture” is necessarily progress.
The late Sam Francis several times commented that the campaign to cleanse all Southern symbols from public view was merely the opening shot in a war against every symbol of the Old America that preceded Ellis Island. The campaign began in the 1930’s and achieved dominance in the 1960’s. Its victories have been continuous. Have no doubt, the masters of this culture war hate George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as much as they hate John C. Calhoun and Robert E. Lee. They care nothing for the heroism of Iwo Jima and D-Day. Their history is of the sins of Old America and the sufferings and pride of their own “multicultural” antecedents.
Alas, the cleansing is proceeding apace. The once stalwartly Red State Virginia and North Carolina have voted for Obama—owing not to the diminishing black vote but to the carpetbagger and immigrant vote. From Virginia southward, a Northern or Mexican accent is now as likely to be heard as a native one. The war of Blue against Red is irrepressible. While we Red Staters are willing to leave the Blue Staters alone, they will never be happy until we are wiped out. They control the cultural machinery, but they may not even need it. They are winning instead by demography.
[Letters From the Outpost: Essays on the Cultural Cleansing of a Small Southern State, by Joyce Bennett (CreateSpace) 199 pp., $25.00]
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