Over the past year, America has seen a steep increase in the removal of Confederate monuments and symbolism across the South.
Now, one of the country’s original 13 colonies is facing criticism over Confederate symbolism said to be found in its state flag.
The state of Maryland, which sided with the Union during the Civil War, has faced criticism online over the inclusion of what some are calling Confederate symbols in at least half of the state’s intricate flag design.
— Bucky with the Good Arm (@benjancewicz) July 31, 2017
According to the claims, the red and white portions of the flag symbolize the confederacy and slavery.Mark Wilson/Getty Images Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Some people were surprised to find this out online.
I was a Marylander for 22 years and didn't know that. We weren't taught more than that the flag represented two important MD families.
— Amanda ? (@SlghtlyOffKey) July 31, 2017
Is the criticism deserved?
The local Baltimore CBS station investigated and found that there was actually a historical basis to the critique. According to the report:
“During the [Civil] war, Maryland-born Confederate soldiers used both the red-and-white colors and the cross bottony design from the Crossland quadrants of the Calvert coat of arms as a unique way of identifying their place of birth,” the records say. “Pins in the cross bottony shape were worn on uniforms, and the headquarters flag of the Maryland-born Confederate general Bradley T. Johnson was a red cross bottony on a white field.”
During the slow process of reconciliation after the Civil War ended in Union victory in 1865, a “flag incorporating alternating quadrants of the Calvert and Crossland colors began appearing at public events” in the state.
The origins of the flag including both designs is not known, but state records say it was being flown by October 1880.
In 1888, the flag was carried by Maryland National Guard troops escorting Governor Elihu E. Jackson at the dedication ceremonies for the Maryland monument at the Gettysburg Battlefield.
The next year, the Fifth Regiment, Maryland National Guard, adopted the flag as its regimental color, becoming the first organization to adopt it officially.
And, as previously mentioned, it was declared the official state flag by the General Assembly in 1904.
Maryland as a state had a very interesting relationship with the Union during the Civil War.
Many of the state’s residents sided with the Confederacy and became Confederate sympathizers. When John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln, he fled to a Confederate safe house in rural Maryland.
The state flag is not the only icon in Maryland that is facing Confederacy critiques.
The city of Baltimore is exploring ways to remove prominent statues in public spaces of Maryland politicians who were also slave owners or Confederate sympathizers.