Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Most Prominent Politicians From Each State (VII): Maryland

I haven't done one of these in awhile, but it's time to get back to it.

Maryland has a surprisingly lame history of prominent politicians. Given it's proximity to the nation's capital and it's 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.

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.

It starts getting real lame now.

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 any kind of leader in the Senate 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. John 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.