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Happy 274th Birthday To Maryland

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on April 04, 2008:

Senator Dyson Yesterday, March 25, I was privileged to make the speech commemorating Maryland Day; the 274th birthday of our state. As St. Mary's County born and bred, it is especially gratifying for me to speak to my colleagues about Maryland Day.

On March 25, 1634, a band of settlers disembarked from the Ark and the Dove on Maryland soil at St. Clement's Island, which is in St. Mary's County today.

Today, we get on a jet and in 5 hours we can travel from New York to Ireland. In 1634, it took months to cross the Atlantic and arriving in the New World was less than a sure thing.

Those who came to Maryland came for a lot of reasons. It was a difficult place to live if you weren't in the right class. Most of the immigrants who came to Maryland were young white males, indentured servants. Most of these young men came for one thing - 50 acres. They had to serve five to seven years as indentured servants. They came with a hoe and an axe. A third of those who made the first trip here died. It was a tough existence. They were not allowed to marry, but many of them did anyway

Our world has shrunk by the speed and depth of the information at our fingertips. In comparison their world - the old world from which they came - was light years away. The only way the colonists could keep in touch with what was happening in the Old Country was the by the news brought to them from the sailors. By the time that news reached their shores, it was months old.

You know it is a unique thing about history. It depends on when it is written. When history is written about today, it lacks a certain backward view and a perspective that only time can give. And with that perspective, we can better recognize history's trailblazers…history's "firsts" and how important their contributions were and how those contributions would resound with the perspective of a century or more.

Recently, I found a history book that belonged to my grandmother that was written in 1901. The book was written by a man who received his bachelor's degree from Johns Hopkins. It is a fascinating book because of his interpretation of historic changes. Equally startling were the book's omissions.

No where in the book does it mention Mathias DeSousa, the first African-American in the New Colony who was allowed to vote in the legislature.

There was no mention that Margaret Brent who was the New Colony's first woman lawyer. It was Margaret Brent who asked the legislature not once, but twice for the right to vote. The Governor, at the time, turned her down in the General Assembly. And yet, this was the standard history book for Maryland's public and private schools. The only mention of Margaret Brent is that she was the executor of her brother Leonard Calvert's will.

To be named Leonard Calvert's executor, she has to have a woman of rare talent and character. She managed his affairs in a way few could. Indeed, without Margaret Brent, we would have no Maryland. In fact, we would all probably be in Virginia today, discussing legislative matters in Richmond.

We Marylanders are citizens of the state called "America in Miniature." From the mountains of Western Maryland to the rolling hills of Central Maryland to the flat lands of the Eastern Shore, we are privileged to live in one of the original states with a proud tradition.

I, certainly, am proud to be a Marylander. Today is our state's birthday. Happy birthday Maryland.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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