“Frederick’s City Hall Park is rich with our community’s history. We are thrilled to tell this story of community change in Frederick during the Civil War era." - Jake Wynn, Marketing and Communications Manager, Visit Frederick
FREDERICK, Md. (PRWEB) February 06, 2023
In 1864, a new Maryland constitution went into effect outlawing the practice of slavery in the state. A newly written Civil War Trails sign at Frederick’s City Hall tells the story of how Frederick residents voted in favor of emancipation in the fall of 1864. The sign also shares the story of an African American man, born into slavery in Frederick County, who went on to excel as an American chess expert.
In the autumn of 1864, Maryland voters went to the polls in a referendum on a new state constitution that outlawed the practice of slavery. Speeches for and against the new constitution took place all over Frederick County, including at City Hall Park, then the grounds of the Frederick County Courthouse. Among those speaking out in favor of the constitution in Frederick was Montgomery Meigs, a well-known politician from Montgomery County and the first postmaster general in the administration of Abraham Lincoln.
On October 12-13, voters in the City of Frederick went to the polls and supported the new constitution and the abolition of slavery in the state by a vote of 735 to 441. The referendum passed statewide and slavery ended across Maryland on November 1, 1864.
Among the nearly 3,000 Frederick County residents emancipated under the new constitution was Theophilus A. Thompson. The Frederick County native became the first nationally recognized Black chess player. The sign features his story and an image of Thompson from his book, “Chess Problems: Either to Play and Mate,” published in 1873.
“Frederick’s City Hall Park is rich with our community’s history. We are thrilled to tell this story of community change in Frederick during the Civil War era,” said Jake Wynn, Marketing and Communications Manager for Visit Frederick. The tourism office is responsible for managing the 38 Civil War Trails markers in Frederick County, in collaboration with Civil War Trails, Inc. and the Maryland Office of Tourism Development. Civil War Trails is a multi-state trail system featuring more than 1,200 historic sites and locations.
The sign replaced a previous Civil War Trails marker on the site that focused on Roger Brooke Taney, a one-time Frederick County resident and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Taney, whose bust was removed from City Hall Park in 2017, died in October 1864. He is best-known as the author of the Dred Scott decision, an 1857 Supreme Court case in which Taney wrote that the United States Constitution did not give rights of citizenship to African Americans.
“Ironically, Taney died on October 12, 1864 in Washington, DC as residents of Maryland voted to end slavery in his home state,” said Wynn.
The Dred Scott decision was later overturned by the 13th and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution.
Visit Frederick is the recognized Destination Marketing Organization for Frederick City and Frederick County, Maryland. It operates the Frederick Visitor Center and related Visit Frederick programs that include Destination Marketing and Group Tour Marketing. For more information about Visit Frederick, visit http://www.visitfrederick.org or call 301-600-4047.