Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

March 21, 2013

The new state’s capital would be in McHenry

“There is a closer bond between Allegany County, Md., and Mineral County, W.Va., than between this county and the Eastern Shore ... .” That’s a quote from 1946.

Over the past 67 years, Eastern Shore and western Maryland counties have found a community of interests in common opposition to the oppressive domination of state culture and politics by central Maryland.

To unite the weak against the strong, 10 counties now have joined together in a rural coalition.

What issues pit rural counties against magalopolis?

Taxation: Our legislature wants to hike the tax on a gallon of gasoline from 23.5 cents to 42.5 cents within five years.

And why are rural Marylanders expected to fork-over so much earned income? To support mass transit in the wealthiest part of the state! (See “Unhappy News,” March 19 Times-News Page5A.)

Numerous other tax issues drive our people across the Potomac River.

Culture: Our governor’s proposals on gun restrictions show no regard for rural Marylanders’ reverence for our Second Amendment rights. Does it do any good for us to vote “No” on referendum questions by margins of 60 percent and 65 percent as we did in 2012? No, because ... .

Politics: Mitt Romney won Allegany County by more than 64 percent in 2012 but lost state-wide.

Because of congressional redistricting, voters in the half of Montgomery County added to our 6th Congressional District now out-vote all the rest of our district. In politics, Maryland does not celebrate diversity.

Perhaps it’s time to resurrect an idea from the past. From the 1940s until he died in 1968, J. William Hunt wrote a weekly column for the Cumberland Sunday Times entitled “Across the Desk.” On Sunday, Feb. 3, 1946 (Page 6), he proposed the creation of a new state to be named “Augusta.”

As he proposed it, the new state would be comprised of the three counties of Western Maryland, 14 from northeast West Virginia, two from northern Virginia, and seven from southwestern Pennsylvania. The capital would be at McHenry in Garrett County.

He re-visited this proposal in his columns in 1952, 1962, and 1964. The last article included a map.

In his 1946 proposal, he supplied the rationale for choosing the name Augusta: “... the name was supplied by George Washington in the dark days of the War for Independence. If the forces of oppression, then represented by Great Britain, should succeed in defeating the American patriots, Washington declared that he would retire to the mountains of ‘West Augusta’ and there surrounded by the hardy pioneers and crack riflemen of Western Maryland, Western Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania he and his forces could never be defeated and never would surrender.”

The U.S. Constitution states in Article IV, section 3: “no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more states, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”

In reality, though, the odds against consent are probably insurmountable.

I have a more modest proposal — that Allegany and Garrett counties secede from Maryland and join West Virginia.

The Declaration of Independence says: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another ... a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Perhaps Times-News readers will contribute to the reasons why our counties would be a better fit in West Virginia.

Michael Allen Mudge

Cumberland

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