The District of Columbia has been talking for years about statehood and recently indicated it will hold a referendum with a view to petitioning the government for statehood ("DC mayor wants a new vote on statehood in November," April 15). I believe Maryland should oppose this vigorously. A better idea would be to retrocede the land to Maryland. There is precedent for this action. The portion of the nation's capital ceded by Virginia in 1790 was retroceded in 1846.
Many consider the land area and population of the District of Columbia to be too small to make a viable state. Rhode Island, 18 times larger than D.C., already suffers from such a reputation. In addition, the land comprising the district was once a small part of Prince George's County. To make that area the equal of the entire state of Maryland, potentially able to cancel out Maryland's voice entirely, is to me unthinkable and entirely unfair. It is inconceivable to me that Maryland would give up land without a solid reason.
Retrocession would give the citizens of D.C. all the political rights that other Americans enjoy. I would suggest that Washington be incorporated by the state in a manner similar to that of Baltimore. This would give the citizens home rule, including the election of a city council and a mayor. It would take away the ability of Congress to thwart the decisions of the local government. In addition, the citizens of Washington would participate in the elections of presidents, representatives and senators in the same manner as all other citizens of our nation.
Some Marylanders object to retrocession because they believe it would fundamentally change the political landscape of Maryland. I believe it would have only a small effect. But even if the effect proves to be larger than I anticipate, I would argue that the effect will nonetheless be much smaller than that of creating an entity the equal of the state of Maryland. I am sure that if Maryland passes up on its opportunity to regain the land ceded, it will come to greatly regret that in the future. In addition, I would think it fair that the federal government pay all costs incurred in fully reintegrating that land into Maryland. It would be they, not Maryland, who wished to change the status of the land.
I strongly believe the state of Maryland should petition to have the land comprising Washington, D.C. be returned to Maryland. If the U.S. government no longer wants it for the purposes and under the circumstances of its donation, it should be returned to Maryland.
Hugh M. Mealy, Annapolis