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Maryland Manual, 1979-80
Volume 179, Preface 9   View pdf image (33K)
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FOREWORD

This edition of the Maryland Manual continues a long tradition of providing for the Legislature,
State agencies, the people of Maryland, and others interested in the Free State an extensive survey of
the offices, officers, functions, and services provided by government at the State, county, and local lev-
el. The first Maryland Manual, compiled by Elihu S. Riley, appeared in 1896 with the maxim, "What
Is News To-Day is History To-Morrow," printed on the title page. The historical importance of the
Maryland Manual is often overshadowed by its role as the primary source of information concerning
the present organization of State government. Now that the book is ready for the printer and is as cur-
rent as modern technology can make it, we should reflect briefly on Riley's concern that the Maryland
Manual be recognized not only as a status report and directory of practical information, but also as a
permanent record of the personalities and performance of the individuals and agencies that as a whole
form the complex fabric of Maryland State government.

Elihu Riley's Maryland Manual for 1896 is a remarkable historical document, not only for facts that
today are obscure but also for its nineteenth-century perception of the important elements in a public
official's career. The opening pages consist of a biography of Governor Lloyd Lowndes of Cumber-
land, Allegany County, presumably written with the assistance of the governor himself. Were it not for
this first Maryland Manual it would be difficult, perhaps impossible, for the historian or political scien-
tist of today to ferret out the details of Governor Lowndes's early education, or establish that he
attained a "large and lucrative" law practice shortly after graduation from college, or determine that
he married his cousin, Miss Elizabeth Lowndes, daughter of Richard T. Lowndes, who bore him five
sons and a daughter. Perusing the lengthy biographies of members of the General Assembly compiled
by Riley, one learns that the Speaker of the House, Sydney E. Mudd, a Republican, was the son of a
"prosperous farmer of Charles County," and that he was so popular that in his campaign for reelection
to the House of Representatives in 1890 he was victorious despite the fact that "this was the year of
the great Democratic tidal wave." Family connections and distinguished lineage were a matter of con-
cern to Riley. Of Senator Thomas A. Smith of Caroline County, for example, Riley wrote that his fa-
ther was a "member of the Smith family of Delaware, among whom have been some of Delaware's
most representative and useful citizens." Senator Frank C. Norwood is described as a "native of Fred-
erick County, where his ancestors have lived for more than a century. . . . His family comes of English
stock, and has been identified with Maryland since the early history of the State." Perhaps the most
notable American ancestry could be claimed by Delegate J. Winslow Jones, however, who was "on the
Winslow side ... a descendant of Canelm, brother to Gov. Edward Winslow, who came over in the
Mayflower."

Less illustrious antecedents—even outright poverty—were not insurmountable barriers to participa-
tion in Maryland politics in the late-nineteenth century, however, and Riley carefully recorded the
instances where public office had been bestowed by the electorate on self-made men. Senator James M.
Sloan of Allegany County, for example, had moved to Lonaconing with his parents at an early age,
and when his father, "who had been an invalid for some time," died leaving James and an older broth-
er to "support a large family," the twelve-year-old future senator went to work in the coal mines. Al-
though Senator Elihu E. Jackson of Wicomico County is described as being the son of "a hardworking
and fairly prosperous farmer," Riley records that Elihu and his four brothers and two sisters were re-
quired to do "their share of the customary labor" on their father's farm, work that in a more prosper-
ous household in antebellum Maryland would have most probably been done by slaves. Delegate
Frank Porter of Allegany County developed a love of "good reading and study" despite his "never see-
ing the inside of a school house until twelve years of age," and even then he "could only be spared
from the farm during the inclement winter months." Reminiscent of many of our own fathers' tales of
the hardships of rural education, Riley records that when Porter was allowed to attend school he "had
to walk six (6) miles a day over mountain roads."

Although this Manual undoubtedly lacks the charm and familiarity of Riley's 1896 Manual, it does
serve more than a transitory purpose. The editorial comments of Riley have been replaced by what we
hope is more objective reporting on State government. We refrain from assessments of a delegate's "de-
cided views on the liquor question and bribery at elections," and that he "would like to see improve-
ment in the laws governing both." Biographies are brief and factual. Instead of enlarging on the person-
alities of public officials, we concentrate on descriptions of legislative committees and of executive

 

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Maryland Manual, 1979-80
Volume 179, Preface 9   View pdf image (33K)
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