Early History of Fort McHenryContrary to some information...


March 23, 1992

Early History of Fort McHenry

Contrary to some information in a recent article about Fort McHenry, the structure was started long before 1797. As early as January 1770, the Maryland Congress of Deputies resolved that Baltimore should be protected in some manner and urged the consideration of an area about the Northeast Branch of the Patapsco River around Whetstone Point.

This site was selected and installation of artillery pieces began the next month. The locality never become potent, however, until 1794 when congressional legislation was enacted to provide defenses for certain ports and harbors, and Baltimore was one of these sites.

Further significant changes were made just prior to 1800 because of a fear of war with France.

James McHenry, a physician and patriot, was intensely interested in government. Because he was the secretary of war for George Washington and John Adams and a distinguished citizen of Maryland, the naming of ''Fort McHenry'' followed naturally.

Joseph M. Miller


Selling Houses

Jane Bryant Quinn is entitled to her opinion about the commissions charged by real estate brokers, but it's easy to be an expert when you're not accountable for the advice you give. A real estate agent must be a combination salesperson, ad writer, handyman, housekeeper, baby sitter, dog walker, raconteur, confessor, marriage counselor, security guard, chauffeur, messenger and financial adviser.

It's a seven-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day job. He or she spends money advertising and promoting a client's house from Day One, with no hope of recovering it if fired. Sellers often fire agents for no reason at all, and agents have no right of redress. When business is bad, the agent has no salary or unemployment compensation to fall back upon.

On an average priced house, an agent nets perhaps a thousand dollars per sale, after paying expenses. (The individual agent usually gets about one-fourth of the total commission paid by the seller. The remainder is split with the broker and cooperating agent in the deal.) The real estate agent's percentage looks pretty poor compared against other salespeople's commissions. Furniture salespeople receive up to around 5 percent of the sale price. Consignment stores and auctioneers charge 10 percent or more. It is possible for a real estate broker to charge a seller less to list and still make money, provided that another agent happens to sell it, and is willing to do the work involved.

Real estate salespersons are often blasted by sellers who think they are entitled to a huge profit simply because they bought a house and lived in it for a few years. But how much a seller makes has no bearing on how hard the agent must work to sell the house and get the deal to the settlement table. Sometimes an agent ends up with a net loss on a sale. Agents should charge a retainer, to cover at least their advertising expenses if a disgruntled seller pulls the plug. Then the seller could pay an hourly fee for the agent's services. That would be fair to everyone.

Peggy Modjesky


Compact Record

While I appreciate The Sun paying notice to my recent legislative efforts on behalf of the American black bear, I was somewhat irked at the reporter's assertion that I am typically off the radar screen insofar as environmental issues. As I explained to your reporter, Tim Wheeler, during a phone conversation, I have taken the lead on select issues that miraculously continue to escape notice by The Sun.

In March of 1991, for instance, I was the first (and only) member of Congress to deliver floor remarks about the need to eliminate wasteful excess packaging of compact discs. Later, I reiterated my position in letters to the chairmen of two major recording labels.

A full year later, when a Sun editorial praised the decision of the Recording Industry Association of America to eliminate wasteful packaging, my efforts were never mentioned. While I might not always be in the spotlight introducing environmental legislation, that's not to say that I haven't generated certain initiatives.

Helen Delich Bentley


The writer represents Maryland's 2d district in the House of Representatives.

A Non-Issue

Another teapot tempest, this check-bouncing at the House of Representatives since ''. . . no public money was lost in the venture and all accounts were paid before the bank closed,'' according to The Sun.

The only issue is that some people keep their money in a sloppy co-op bank that doesn't charge for overdrafts. Rank does have its privileges, and it should, as long as nothing illegal or immoral happens.

The usual superficial reading of the newspaper gives the impression that this money was stolen from the public till. This is not true.

Overdraft charges in this country vary from zero to $30, according to The Sun. Bankers make a tidy profit by penalizing bad-check writers and if one private bank doesn't want the profit, that is an individual management decision.

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