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Most Prominent Politicians (VII): Maryland


Maryland has a surprisingly lame history of prominent politicians. Given its proximity to the nation’s capital and its relatively high population for a small state, one might expect more from Maryland. The top 10 list is pretty thin and includes some pretty unsavory characters. Supreme Court justices lead us off.

1. Roger Taney–Supreme Court justice notorious for writing the opinion in the Dred Scott case.

2. Thurgood Marshall–not really a politician, but as a Supreme Court justice and gamechanger in American racial history, obviously deserves a high place on this list.

3. Spiro Agnew–it’s always good times to think about Nixon’s hippie-punching and race baiting vice president.

4. Samuel Chase–Supreme Court justice from 1796 to 1811; most famous for being impeached by angry Jeffersonians in 1804.

5. Paul Sarbanes–Senator from 1977 to 2007, making him the longest serving senator in Maryland history. Not really all that prominent but is well-known for cosponsoring the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 which reformed securities law.

6. William Pinkney–Long-term Jeffersonian politician, Attorney General under James Madison

7. Millard Tydings–Senator from 1927-51. Most famous for cosponsoring the Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934, which provided for the eventual independence of the Philippines and ensured that Filipinos could no longer migrate to the United States. I always loved this law–we gave up colonialism in order to prevent Asian immigration! Tydings was later redbaited by Joe McCarthy and lost the 1950 election because of it.

8. Charles Carroll of Carrollton–signer of Declaration of Independence. The only Catholic to sign and the last surviving signer.

9. Gabriel Duvall–Supreme Court justice from 1811-35. Follower of John Marshall and made little name for himself. Averaged less than one written decision a year (17 written decisions in 24 years).

10. James Pearce–Senator from 1843-62. A Whig who switched to the Democrats after the Whig Party’s decline. Not much of a player. Chairman of the Committee on the Library (!). Did serve as Chairman of the Committee on Finance for 2 months in 1861.

Was it as lame as you expected? Probably lamer.

Next: South Carolina. That ought to be interesting.

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