Anne Arundel history

November 06, 2005

[1861: An election to remember]

Exactly 144 years ago today, another election was brewing in Annapolis. But things were a little different on Nov. 6, 1861 - the Civil War had recently broken out, a national divide that also dominated the local political landscape.

Because Maryland was a slaveholding state that remained part of the Union, the outcome of a gubernatorial race was considered critical to both sides. President Abraham Lincoln was known to be watching Southern sympathizers in Maryland so closely that he placed the mayor of Baltimore and other elected city officials under arrest in Fort McHenry. With Maryland as stra tegic terrain and a next-door neighbor to Washington, little was left to chance.

In the election for governor that November, Augustus W. Bradford, a Republican and Union supporter, defeated General Benjamin C. Howard, a Democratic/Peace Party candidate.

According to some accounts, Union soldiers patrolled polling places, and Union troops in Maryland units were given leave to go home and vote. Massachusetts soldiers may have voted in the Maryland election in the city of An napolis.

Source: Jean Packard, Sun library research

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