Was born 158 years too late. That many years...

DON SCHAEFER

February 09, 1991|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

DON SCHAEFER was born 158 years too late. That many years ago yesterday the governor of Maryland received a letter from the governor of Delaware inquiring about annexing the Eastern Shore.

The Delaware legislature had passed a resolution calling for a joint commission to negotiate the terms of the deal. This the governor laid before the Maryland General Assembly. A Dorchester County delegate introduced a resolution calling for the "details" to be worked out. It passed in amended form by 40-24. But it failed in the state Senate by one vote, and that was that.

Today, with a determined governor ramroding it through, such a resolution would probably pass. And, boy, would Governor Schaefer love to ramrod it through! He despises the shore, as his insults of the region suggest. There have been more than one. Referring to it as a "----house" was only the most vulgar and the most publicized.

The reason Mr. Schaefer is mad at the shore is that it voted against him. Leave aside the personality problem that reveals. Look at this from a political science perspective. The significant fact is that by the vote in the gubernatorial race last year the shore demonstrated once again that it is not a part of Maryland. xTC While the rest of the state was voting for Mr. Schaefer by a margin of 61-39 percent, the shore voted for an unknown Republican fringe candidate by that same margin. Queen Anne's voted against Mr. Schaefer by 70-30 percent.

A state with as split a personality as this ought to divorce.

I don't think one state has ever voluntarily turned over part of itself to another sovereign state, but the U.S. Constitution clearly allows this.

So, do it now! Right? No, I have a better idea. I think the time has come for the Eastern Shore to be its own state. There is a precedent of sorts for this. West Virginia.

The shore's population is about 340,000. That's small for a state. The smallest at present is Wyoming, 453,000. But several shore counties are growing at a rapid rate. Wyoming is losing population. East Maryland would pass it before long.

East Maryland? That is one possibility for a name, based on the West Virginia model. But there are other possibilities. Eastern Shore, itself, has a pleasant ring. South Delaware. Chesapeake. Trans-Chesapeake. Trans-Choptankia.

That last is the creation of H. L. Mencken. He was no fan of the shore. He once wrote, "I am not surprised by anything that happens on the remote and malarial counties of the Eastern Shore that ought to be detached and handed over to. . . flea-bitten and desolate. . . Delaware." He meant just the counties south of the Choptank River, hence his "Trans-Choptankia."

I like it, but the shore needs the counties above the Choptank to be a viable state. Call it just Choptankia.

Whatever the name, I have the perfect State Motto. The ----house State. No! NO!NO!NO! Just kidding! I the Eastern Shore!!

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