Benjamin Todd Jealous claims that Maryland "would have seceded from the Union in 1861 if not for Abraham Lincoln's last-minute decision to impose martial law and arrest 12 members of the General Assembly to prevent them from taking a vote" ("Maryland: the new South," April 13). Neither claim is accurate. President Lincoln never imposed martial law in Maryland (nor did anyone else) and he specifically instructed the military authorities to allow the Maryland legislature to meet in special session in April 1861 without interference. Ross Winans, the only state legislator detained in spring 1861, was arrested after the legislative session and held less than a day.
The prevailing narrative of our state's Civil War experience continues to trumpet a Maryland secession stymied only by the tyrannical actions of Lincoln and the federal government. A trove of original source documents from 1860 and 1861 — including the proceedings of the special legislative session from April 26 to May 13, 1861 — clearly demonstrates that Maryland was never destined to join the Confederacy.
Charles W. Mitchell, Parkton
The writer is author of the book, "Maryland Voices of the Civil War."
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