Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

But Is His Torch Still at Thy Temple Door?

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on March 18, 2016


In Maryland, they’re looking to remove the phrase “northern scum” from their official state song. And yes, like the Mississippi state flag, it was a decades-after-the-fact embrace of Confederate symbolism as an official representation of the state:


“Maryland, Oh Maryland,” which is sung to the tune of “O Tannenbaum,” wasn’t adopted as the state song until 1939, although it was penned in 1861. The AP reports it is unclear why the song was adopted at that particular historical moment but notes there had been two recent lynchings in the state and the NAACP was then advocating for equal pay for black teachers.

“By enshrining a Confederate war anthem, the General Assembly may have been seeking symbolically to challenge such efforts,” according to the AP.


Could be.






11 Responses

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  1. Jeffry Burden said, on March 18, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    Hmmm…ya think? 🙂

  2. bob carey said, on March 19, 2016 at 9:55 am

    The fact that the song wasn’t adopted as the official state song until 1939 is very telling. Did Maryland finally join the Confederacy in 1939?
    Wasn’t the adoption of this song an affront to the far more numerous Union Veterans from Maryland? Some of which might have still been alive in 1939.
    Although I am biased (northern scum) it is my opinion that the song should be ditched entirely.

  3. Msb said, on March 19, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Glad to hear this. A diary on this topic at Daily Kos had a link to a version with much nicer lyrics (quoted on Making Light). Sorry not to have the link on me!

  4. Bob Nelson said, on March 20, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Aren’t we getting just a little silly here? There are statues in Baltimore honoring REL, Jackson and Confederate soldiers and another one in Rockville, reportedly the most northern Confederate monument of all, exhorts passers by to always love and cherish “the thin gray line.” It seems to me that any of these are more offensive than some obscure lyrics in a state song. “Northern scum,” BTW, is in the 9th verse — 9th verse — and I am willing to bet that not one Marylander in 10,000 knows the words to any of the verses, let alone the 9th verse. Seems to me the Maryland legislature took the path of least resistance. FWIW, if you’re interested here’s a link to a recent article from the Baltimore “Sun” which includes some suggested replacement lyrics that are really quite nice and more appropriate for 2016. I wonder if Marylanders will learn these new lyrics if adopted. BTW, “Michigan My Michigan” is also sung to the tune “O Christmas Tree” and, no, I don’t know any of the lyrics.

    • Andy Hall said, on March 20, 2016 at 1:04 pm

      For the record, I wasn’t familiar with that verse. I knew that “Maryland, My Maryland” was the official state song, but didn’t realize it retained all the secesh lyrics of the CW version.

  5. Will Hickox said, on March 20, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    There must be a dearth of songs about Maryland, because otherwise I can’t imagine why it’s survived as the state song for so many decades. Other than passing mention of John Eager Howard and Charles Carroll, “Maryland My Maryland” has absolutely no meaning beyond the pathetically failed attempt of a minority of the state’s population to secede from the “northern scum.”

  6. Laqueesha said, on March 21, 2016 at 5:09 am

    I chuckled at the subtitle “A Patriotic Song”. Treason is patriotic? Well, looks like George Thomas was right:

    “The greatest efforts made by the defeated insurgents since the close of the war have been to promulgate the idea that the cause of liberty, justice, humanity, equality, and all the calendar of the virtues of freedom, suffered violence and wrong when the effort for southern independence failed. This is, of course, intended as a species of political cant, whereby the crime of treason might be covered with a counterfeit varnish of patriotism, so that the precipitators of the rebellion might go down in history hand in hand with the defenders of the government, thus wiping out with their own hands their own stains; a species of self-forgiveness amazing in its effrontery, when it is considered that life and property—justly forfeited by the laws of the country, of war, and of nations, through the magnanimity of the government and people—was not exacted from them.”

  7. msb said, on March 21, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Better lyrics suggested:

    • Andy Hall said, on March 21, 2016 at 11:17 am


      Our nights are dark, our days are fair,
      We’re right next door to Delaware.
      Our song before was full of gore
      But we heard the Union won the war.
      We’re sorry if we made you mad,
      It was the only song we had.
      Oh Maryland, oh Maryland,
      Oh Maryland, oh Maryland.

  8. woodrowfan said, on March 24, 2016 at 9:50 am

    heh, a modern Maryland anthem would praise Old Bay seasoning and the Ravens, require you to shout out the “O” in “Oh Maryland”*, and include the word “Hon” in at least one verse.

    * during the National Anthem at baseball games the O’s fans shout out the “O” in “Oh say can you see.” Like the Atlanta fans shout out “home of the BRAVE!” As a diehard, lifelong Cincinnati fan I am not sure if I am proud or disappointed that Reds fans don’t play up the “rockets RED glare.”

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