School Improvement in Maryland
Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic C. Conflict between Ideas and Institutions

Indicator 3. Analyze regional differences in the Civil War and its effects on people in Maryland

Objective b. Explain why loyalties to the North and the South were divided in Maryland


As a border state, Maryland was divided bitterly during the Civil War. Not only did the different regions of the state differ in their loyalty to North or South, families in the same towns and even members of the same family supported opposing sides. In a state that was such a blend of North and South, loyalty was determined on an individual basis, and many factors determined a person's loyalty during the conflict.

The region of the state in which an individual lived played a large role. To a significant degree, western and northern Marylanders remained loyal to the Union while southern Marylanders and Eastern Shore residents favored the Confederacy. Economic ties were largely responsible for this alignment. In southern Maryland and, to a lesser extent, the Eastern Shore, the plantation economy, tobacco agriculture, and slaveholding linked residents to the South. In western and northern Maryland and Baltimore City, an economy based on wheat production and processing, commerce, and industry linked residents to the North. (For more detail on the economic activities of each region, see objective 5.C.3.a).

In many ways linked to economic pursuits, Maryland's culture was also double-sided, influencing whether people felt more "Northern" or "Southern" in their tendencies. The genteel and leisurely Southern culture that focused on the past pervaded Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, while the Northern focus on progress and the future dominated Western and Central Maryland. Elements of both cultures existed in Baltimore.

Maryland was also a blend of North and South in its social make-up. The existence of slavery in the state was very important in linking it socially to the South. However, slavery was on the decline in Maryland, and unlike other Southern states, Maryland had a large free black population. The presence of large numbers of European immigrants also tied Maryland to the North socially. So although Maryland was slave state, its very heterogeneous population was more characteristic of a Northern than a Southern state.

In addition to economic ties, another important factor in shaping a person's loyalty was kinship ties. Many Maryland families were closely related to Virginia families. This link could often overpower economic interests so that some individuals with no stake in plantation agriculture or slavery supported the South out of loyalty to or concern for family members.

Most Marylanders would have preferred that the state remain neutral in the sectional conflict and that the nation find a way to both preserve the Union and Southern rights. Unfortunately, such a solution was not to be, and Marylanders were forced to choose sides. To a degree, Marylanders' loyalties followed the economic ties of the region in which they lived, but, because Maryland was such a blend of Northern and Southern influences, loyalty was a decision each individual Marylander made for him- or herself based on his/her own social, economic, and cultural life.

Classroom Example 1

Classroom Example 2

Classroom Example 3

Resources for Objective 5.C.3.b: