For decades, Maryland has had a place on its books for a state song that has been frequently criticized for being a Civil War-era call-to-arms for the Confederacy, from its opening line referring to Abraham Lincoln as a “despot” to its scorn for “Northern scum!”
Now, the song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” appears to be on the verge of being swept into the dustbin of history, with the governor poised to sign a bill repealing its cherished status after state lawmakers approved the change.
Lawmakers have not chosen a replacement for the song, the singing of which had been tradition at the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, for more than a century until it was removed from the program in 2020.
On Monday, the Maryland House of Delegates voted 95 to 38 to strip the song of its designation, sending the measure to Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, who has said he was open to signing the repeal. Earlier this month, the Maryland Senate voted 45 to 0 to repeal the song.
Critics of the repeal have said it was another example of cancel culture. An amendment to substitute “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which was inspired by the British attack at Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812 and was written by Francis Scott Key, a Maryland native, failed.
The lyrics of “Maryland, My Maryland” are from a poem written in 1861 by James Ryder Randall, a Confederate sympathizer, and the song is set to the tune of “O, Tannenbaum,” according to the state song page on Maryland’s official state website. Randall had been outraged by Union troops marching through Baltimore. Maryland was a border state at the time.