Monday, March 09, 2009

Loving and Hating Abe

Loving Abe is artist Maira Kalman, who recently prepared a visual op-ed for the New York Times, "In Love with A. Lincoln":

Hating Abe is ... Maryland--or at least, the state's official song, "Maryland, My Maryland," which begins:

The despot’s heel is on thy shore,
His torch is at thy temple door,
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!

You might think that referring to Lincoln as a "despot" and "tyrant" (verse 7) is a bit much to stomach as the country celebrates the bicentennial of his birth. But a legislative hearing last week drew a crowd largely opposed to one state Senator's proposal to change the lyrics:

The Senate hearing was packed with Confederate re-enactors, amateur historians, teachers and a seventh-grader who said she loves the state song, which taught her the meaning of "despot."

For more than 50 years, lawmakers have periodically tried to dethrone Maryland, My Maryland, written in 1861 by James Ryder Randall and codified as the state song in 1939. Randall, 22 at the time, penned the lyrics after learning that his former college roommate had been killed in a Pratt Street riot between Confederate sympathizers and Union soldiers from Massachusetts, the history goes.

Many of those testifying yesterday said they were present seven years ago, the last time [State Senator Jennie] Forehand unsuccessfully tried to do away with Randall's words. She wants to replace them with a more pacifist version written in 1894 by John T. White, an Allegany County teacher.


Kathy said...

Maira originally created the In Love with A. Lincoln piece for the 21st-Century Abe website ( done by the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia (where I work). The site also includes other artist projects about Lincoln, as well as opportunities for site visitors to make and share their own Abe art--and even to win prizes! So if you like Maira’s work you should check out the full site.

SW said...

Kathy - Thanks for reminder, and sorry I didn't link to your site originally.

I also recall seeing a posting at 21st Century Abe about Hope Perkins, who made a handpainted Lincoln dress.

I was amused to see that Perkins also has a line of T-shirts and dresses with likenesses of TuPac, David Bowie, and (the artist again known as) Prince.

Odd company Abe is keeping these days....