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Women’s Hall of Fame should be in St. Mary’s City

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on August 22, 2003:

Senator Dyson Kendel Ehrlich, Maryland’s First Lady, is proposing a Hall of Fame for Maryland’s most prestigious women who should have been recognized years ago. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many great women Marylanders and reading about many others. One is Mistress Margaret Brent, the first woman who asked for the right to vote in America. Although she was turned down for this request, her courage in doing so was remarkable for the 1600s.

I have written to the First Lady, asking that the museum be placed in Maryland’s first capital here in the Mother County -- St. Mary’s City. It was here that Mistress Brent basically saved the colony that eventually was to become the greatest state in the nation.

What follows is an open letter I recently wrote to Mrs. Ehrlich:

Dear Mrs. Ehrlich:

I have read with great interest that you would like to establish a Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. I think it’s a great and practical idea.

Before full fledged planning begins on this idea, I would like to suggest that the Hall of Fame be located in the first capital of Maryland -- St. Mary’s City -- in honor of one of Maryland’s greatest women, Mistress Margaret Brent.

Mistress Brent did much for Maryland, no less than saving the colony, according to records kept at Historic St. Mary’s City.

Upon Governor Leonard Calvert’s death in 1647, with the colony in danger of fracturing apart amongst various groups, it was up to Mistress Brent, as the executor of Governor Calvert’s estate to use her considerable diplomatic skills to bring these groups together for the greater cause of a united Maryland colony.

The all male General Assembly recognized that it took a woman to do this extraordinary work when it reported that “it was better for the Collonys (sic) safety at that time in her hands than in any mans (sic) else in the whole Province.”

Mistress Brent was successful in her endeavors, but she did not stop there. Maryland’s first female attorney, Mistress Brent was the first women to ask the Maryland Assembly for the right to vote. While she was denied this right, her courage in asking was deeply respected by all. It no doubt gave incentive for more famous, but no less important women such as Susan B. Anthony to fight for a women’s right to vote in the United States of America.

St. Mary’s City literature says that “through her courage, skill, and diplomacy, Mistress Brent saved the colony, allowed Maryland’s noble experiment in religious freedom to continue and became one of the most significant women in early America.”

I agree with all but one word in that sentence. She was not just one of the most significant women in early America, she was one, if not the most significant women in the history of America. I’d venture to write that she was arguably the most significant woman in Maryland.

That is why I believe the place for the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame should be located nowhere else other than in the place where Mistress Brent lived, practiced law, earned the respect of women and men alike, dared to ask for the right to vote in an all male assembly and last, but not least, saved the colony that eventually became the greatest state in the Union.

I look forward to your attention to this request and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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