(From left to right) Benjamin Bradlee, SMCM president Jane Margret O'Brien, Executive Director for the Historic St. Mary's City Commission Regina Faden, and Martin Sullivan, director of the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution, stand behind the replica of the Patent of Nobility, presented to Bradlee during the Maryland Historical Society's Marylander of the Year ceremony. The reproduction was originally presented to George Calvert in 1624, 10 years before the founding of Maryland, and granted Calvert his title of "Lord." (Submitted photo)
BALTIMORE (March 30, 2009)—The Washington Post's Benjamin Bradlee was named the Maryland Historical Society's Marylander of the Year for 2009. He was honored Wednesday for his service to St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) and Historic St. Mary's City (HSMC). The award highlights his success over the years in cultivating a relationship between SMCM, HSMC, and the state legislature. His many accomplishments include his leadership in the creation of SMCM as a public "honors college," the preservation of the original site of Lord Calvert's 17th century home, the creation of the Maryland Heritage Project, and the endowment of the Benjamin C. Bradlee Lecture Series in Journalism.
Speaking of the Watergate scandal that brought down a president, David Stewart Thaler, president-elect of the Maryland Historical Society board of trustees, said, "It is somewhat ironic
that although this is the highest accolade we can bestow, it is not even for Ben's greatest accomplishment. Showing enormous courage as editor of The Washington Post and at great personal risk, Ben Bradlee rooted out rot and corruption at the very center of the American government. His actions resulted in the peaceful transition of power under extraordinary circumstances and elevated American values and moral leadership in the eyes of the world."
Bradlee served as the chair of the Historic St. Mary's Commission for 12 years and has been on the St. Mary's College of Maryland board of trustees for 18 years, where he now serves as vice chair.
In 1997, under Bradlee's leadership and through the Townsend Commission, the legislature approved an affiliation between St. Mary's College and Historic St. Mary's City to engage in joint educational programming. Dr. Jane Margret O'Brien, president of SMCM, said, "This affiliation allowed for the creation of the Maryland Heritage Project, which has provided over $65 million in funding to allow the college and Historic St. Mary's City to work and to grow together for the benefit of their common missions. The Maryland Heritage Project has already changed the face of St. Mary's for the better. As a result, we have the superb St. John's Site Museum, Glendening Hall, and our works in progress, the new Anne Arundel Hall and visitors' center for Historic St. Mary's City."
"What kind of leader is Ben?" asked Dr. Martin Sullivan, former director of Historic St. Mary's City and current director of the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution. "He is like Moses: the waters part in the halls of the state legislature when he appears
He has a pure zest for life that makes him an inspirational leader."
At the close of the ceremony, Bradlee was presented with a gift from the Maryland Historical Society. This replica of the Patent of Nobility was presented to George Calvert in 1624, 10 years before the founding of Maryland, which would grant Calvert with his title, "Lord."
In conclusion, O'Brien remarked, "Philip Graham, Ben's former boss at The Washington Post, said, 'Journalism is the first rough draft of history.' I believe Ben has ensured that the rough drafts of history he has been responsible for are as well-polished as his contributions to St. Mary's College and Historic St. Mary's City." Bradlee responded, "I didn't do anything but ask for money from Governor Schaefer and most of you," he said, with a chuckle to the audience.
Bradlee was first appointed to the Historic St. Mary's City Commission in 1991, and served as chair for 12 years. During this period, the 850-acre National Historic Landmark changed remarkably with the addition of several exhibits forming a new city center, the St. John's Site, and the soon-to-be completed Brick Chapel. Bradlee was instrumental in establishing an official affiliation with the site's immediate neighbor, SMCM, where he now serves as vice chair of the board of trustees. This partnership, which many observers say has grown stronger each year, has enabled advances in research, scholarship, collaborative curricula and programming, as well as the sharing of resources.
In addition to his career in journalism with The Washington Post, where he now serves as vice president at large, and with Newsweek, Bradlee is the author of three books and has taught at Georgetown University, from which he received a doctor of humane letters. He is a graduate of Harvard University. Bradlee and his wife, journalist and author Sally Quinn, restored Porto Bello, an 18th century home on the St. Mary's River.