Why Was The Border State Of Maryland Vital To The Union?


Why Was The Border State Of Maryland Vital To The Union
Two border states were vital for the Union; these states were Maryland and Kentucky. Keeping Maryland in the Union was crucial to the United States Government because it surrounds the capital city of Washington D.C. Losing this state would have forced Lincoln and the government to evacuate.

Why were the border states vital to the Union?

Importance of the Border States – Had the border states seceded with the other slave states, the outcome of the Civil War might have been very different. First, the border states provided a geographical and ideological buffer between the combatants: had Maryland seceded, Washington, D.C., would have been entirely surrounded by Confederate territory.

Second, the border states were important economic engines for the Union, primarily because Maryland and Delaware had so many factories. Had just those two states seceded, the Confederacy’s manufacturing capabilities would have nearly doubled. Because the Civil War was in many ways an economic war as much as a military one, doubling Southern manufacturing output could have seriously altered the duration and even the outcome of the war.

The fact that these slave states chose to remain in the Union also weakened the South’s claim that it had seceded to save its slavery-based economy. Nevertheless, Lincoln had to be careful not to offend slave owners in the border states, which is why, for example, the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation declared slaves free in only the secessionist states—not the loyal border states.

Why was Maryland the most critical border state?

The Border States (U.S. National Park Service) Why Was The Border State Of Maryland Vital To The Union Union forces remove Missouri civilians from their homes under the provisions of Brig. Gen. Thomas Ewing’s General Order No.11. It is a popular belief that the Border States-Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and West Virginia-comprised the Civil War’s middle ground, a region of moderation lying between the warring North and South.

  1. This was, after all, the home of great compromisers such as Kentucky’s Henry Clay, a U.S.
  2. Senator who crafted important measures that prevented civil war in the 1820s and 1850s.
  3. It was the region in which no states supported Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election – but where no states seceded in response either.

And it was a region that sought a unique middle position in wartime, slave-holding states remaining with the free states of the Union. Yet, any hope that this pursuit of the middle ground would bring peace to border state residents was quickly dashed in wartime.

Angry confrontations, including some of the most violent guerrilla warfare in American history, became an everyday fact of life in this region, as the two sides lived side-by-side and confronted one another on a daily basis. The border states were both compromising in peacetime and antagonistic in war, two seemingly contradictory positions that in fact sprung from the same source: each state encompassed deep and enduring internal divisions.

The border region had long been the place where Americans’ divergent interests coincided, where slavery and abolitionism, industry and agriculture, Democrats and Republicans all existed side-by-side. It was the crossroads of Americans’ travel too, as Northerners moved south to obtain land or to vacation, Southerners went north for education or employment, and Easterners moved west to seek new land.

  • The different cultures, economies, and politics of the nation coexisted in this region, making it difficult, as sectional conflict threatened the nation, to pull these states neatly toward one side or the other.
  • Residents felt deeply the nation’s struggle over the future of slavery.
  • On the one hand the border states held fewer slaves – only 11 percent of the nation’s total slave population in 1860 – than states further south.

Yet the number of slaveholders was not insignificant either, as Kentucky had more slave owners than Mississippi (and ranked third behind Virginia and Georgia by this measure). Public opinion surrounding slavery shared much of the intensity of the national struggle too, as abolitionists made deep inroads in the border states before the war, by setting up new organizations and newspapers, while proslavery vigilantes tried to stop them with mob violence.

  1. Border State politicians saw among their constituents nothing less than the divided nation on a smaller scale.
  2. Holding this internally divided population together was a problem that intensified with the secession crisis and pushed border state leaders into a particular form of compromise: neutrality.

While the four other slaveholding states that had been similarly reluctant to secede – Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina – eventually did so by the end of April 1861, the remaining border states initially sought to take no side at all (the exception was Delaware, where Union loyalties were never in doubt).

But this proved difficult to sustain. Residents found it hard to be neutral in their daily lives, especially men of military age who began leaving the states in order to enlist elsewhere. These states were also located geographically in too central a place to stay apart from the conflict, as both the Union and Confederacy recognized the strategic value of the region.

Maryland surrounded Washington, D.C., on three sides, while Baltimore’s port and railroads offered important supply lines. Kentucky possessed the Ohio River, a well-traveled route for western troops, as well as railways into the South, while St. Louis was the home to one of the nation’s largest arsenals.

The Border States possessed human and material resources that could help either side, and with the opening shots of the war, both set out to win them over. The earliest challenge to the border states’ neutrality took place in Maryland on April 19, 1861. Here, as the 6th Massachusetts Regiment answered Lincoln’s call for troops and moved through Maryland on the way to Washington, D.C., a pro-Confederate mob gathered in Baltimore and opened fire as the troops approached.

The Massachusetts soldiers fired back, and by the end of the day, 16 people had died. More Union troops continued to arrive, occupying the capital of Annapolis and opening up a safer route into D.C. that bypassed turbulent Baltimore. The state legislature left Annapolis, and although its members openly criticized Union leaders, no convention was called to consider secession.

  • By mid-June, latent Union sentiment emerged powerfully to elect Unionists to all six Maryland seats in the U.S. Congress.
  • Any lingering hope for neutrality, or even secession, faded away.
  • Similar defeats for neutrality took place over the coming months in Kentucky, which, despite the governor’s southern sympathies, continued to raise the U.S.

flag over its capitol in September, and in Missouri, where the Union pushed Confederate troops out by March 1862. Neutrality was over and the Border States were now officially attached to the Union. But it was one thing for a state to profess its allegiance to the Union and quite another for all of its citizens to follow suit.

  1. Long-standing animosities emerged with a vengeance, as the border-state population openly turned on itself.
  2. Communities divided, or in the case of West Virginia, an entire state, split from Confederate Virginia in 1863.
  3. Families divided too, in what was widely regarded as a unique border-state problem, as sons fled Unionist parents to enlist in the Confederate army, or as brothers – such as Kentucky Senator John J.

Crittenden’s own sons – joined the opposing armies, or even as husbands and wives avoided talking politics lest they find themselves on the brink of divorce. “There is scarcely a family that is not divided,” a St. Louis woman noted in 1861. This deeply felt inner conflict forced both armies to continue fighting mightily over the region, either to peel away the Border States, as in the case of the Confederacy, or to protect their Union allegiance.

The stakes were high. As Lincoln himself put it in September 1861, “I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we cannot hold Missouri, nor as I think, Maryland. These all against us, and the job on our hands is too large for us.” The ensuing battle over the region witnessed some of the Civil War’s most violent warfare, and nowhere was this more true than in Missouri.

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There, pro-southern forces had been influential from the start, counting among them the governor of the state, Claiborne Fox Jackson. Frustrated with his state’s neutrality, Jackson took control of the St. Louis police and mobilized a pro-Confederate militia in April 1861, all in an unsuccessful effort to seize the city’s arsenal.

Fighting between Jackson’s forces, and Union troops led by General Nathaniel Lyon, continued in this ostensibly “neutral” state over the course of that year, culminating in two pivotal battles: first, the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on August 10, in which Confederate forces prevailed and Lyon was killed, leading Jackson to call a shadow convention that passed an ordinance of secession; and second, the Battle at Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in March 1862, in which Union forces turned back Jackson’s advances and pushed the governor into exile in northwest Arkansas, thereby solidifying the Union’s hold on Missouri.

Protecting the Union’s position in Missouri would involve, for the duration of the war, fending off the guerrillas who picked up where the conventional Confederate forces left off. William Quantrill, “Bloody Bill” Anderson, Jesse and Frank James. Their names-especially the James brothers-are now legendary, but at the time, they posed a formidable obstacle to the Union and a rallying point for pro-Confederate residents who cheered them on across this divided state.

Unionist guerrillas from Kansas, known as “Jayhawkers,” retaliated in this form of irregular warfare that exploited community divisions in gruesome encounters and in effect transformed the border states’ divided loyalties into some of the most brutal warfare Americans had ever seen. For the Union this meant that winning the war would require suppressing this rebellion in its own border states as well as winning the conventional battles elsewhere.

The Lincoln administration decided early on that political measures, in addition to military force, were also necessary to curb disloyalty and put down the border region’s inner civil war. The result was a series of policies that became controversial for their apparent erosion of civil liberties.

  1. The first instance occurred in Maryland, in the early days of neutrality, when the President suspended the writ of habeas corpus in an order mandating that anyone suspected of disloyal acts or speech be arrested and detained in military prison without a hearing in court.
  2. It was a move that resulted in the arrest of members of Maryland’s legislature, among others, but as the state’s unionism eventually prevailed, the policy was extended to other places too.

Later that summer, in the aftermath of the Union loss at Wilson’s Creek in Missouri, General John C. Fremont imposed martial law on that state, ordering the seizure of property owned by Confederate sympathizers as well as the emancipation of their slaves.

  • By the next month military commissions began trying Missouri civilians, and in September 1862, Lincoln ordered the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus nationwide.
  • To live in the Border States after this point was to live amid fear of arrest for any word or deed construed as disloyal to the Union.

One had to be careful what was written in a letter, which was likely read by Union mail censors, or to ask in writing for permission to travel and prove that such movement carried no disloyal intent. Even women, who might have thought themselves exempt from such scrutiny by not being official combatants in the war, were under suspicion.

The policies were heralded as necessary by Lincoln’s Republican allies-but many border state residents protested the acts with violent resistance, or in the case of native Baltimorean James R. Randall, by penning a new poem that would later become Maryland’s official song. “The despot’s heel is on thy shore,” the song “Maryland, My Maryland” opens, beginning an extended rant against the “Northern scum” and the “tyrant’s chain.” The Lincoln administration acknowledged this sort of backlash by imposing some limits on its political pursuit of the border states.

This was especially true with regard to slavery. One provision in Fremont’s martial law declaration- the emancipation of slaves – went too far in the president’s eyes, as he had long recognized how strong proslavery sentiment was in the border states and feared losing the region if he moved too quickly, or too decisively, to abolish slavery by federal decree.

So Lincoln responded to Fremont’s action by first requesting that provision revoked, and when Fremont refused, relieving the general from command. Yet, Lincoln did not abandon the goal of emancipation for border region either, because despite the potential to alienate its residents, ending slavery there could also end the South’s pursuit of those states.

This, in turn, could end the war more quickly. Lincoln, therefore, pursued a state-driven emancipation plan beginning with Delaware in late 1861, in which he promised federal compensation to the states’ slaveholders in return for voluntary abolition-but Delaware’s legislature rejected it.

  • Then, in the summer of 1862, as the president mulled over the prospect of a sweeping emancipation plan for the Confederate states, he called for a conference of border-state leaders at the White House to plead with them to enact emancipation on their own.
  • They refused.
  • This left Lincoln to draft his monumental Emancipation Proclamation later that month with the border states officially exempted from its provisions.

Unofficially, though, as the proclamation went into effect, the promise of freedom now surrounded the border states on all sides, leading the region’s enslaved men, women, and children to flee their plantations anyway – severely eroding slavery in the region in practice, if not in policy.

Unionism ultimately prevailed along the border. The majority of white men of military age in these states ended up fighting for the Union (approximately 275,000 as compared to 71,000 who fought as Confederates), and by the war’s end, Missouri and Maryland had both capitulated to emancipation and abolished slavery within their borders (West Virginia had already done so with statehood in 1863).

Yet, in another sign of how the region’s history of compromise coexisted with internal dissent, Delaware and Kentucky did not – and it took until the twentieth century for these last holdouts to ratify the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery everywhere in December 1865.

  • Even today the region appears divided in Americans’ memories of the war, with a state like Maryland clearly linked to its Union ancestry, while many fail to remember that Kentucky was not a Confederate state.
  • The push and pull of the border states from one side to the other thus continues in the war’s aftermath, a legacy of the region’s long-standing history of internal division.

This essay is taken from The Civil War Remembered, published by the National Park Service and Eastern National. This richly illustrated handbook is available in many national park bookstores or may be purchased online from Eastern at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Monument, Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Antietam National Battlefield, Arkansas Post National Memorial, Buffalo National River, C&O Canal National Historical Park, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Fort Scott National Historic Site, Fort Smith National Historic Site, Monocacy National Battlefield, Pea Ridge National Military Park, Shiloh National Military Park, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield : The Border States (U.S.

Which was the most vital border state for the Union quizlet?

Which was the most vital border state in the Union? Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri had close ties to both the Union and the Confederacy.

What was the most vital border state?

Kentucky – Kentucky was the most important border state, captivating the attention of both the Union and Confederacy throughout the Civil War. In addition to being the 9th most populated state out of 33, it possessed a strategic location right at the center of the United States. If Kentucky joined the Confederacy, it would immediately threaten much of the Midwest. Why Was The Border State Of Maryland Vital To The Union Kentucky was key to the Union Civil War success. Lincoln ingeniously adopted a lenient approach to Kentucky in the early days of secession furor, honoring the initial “neutrality” declaration by the state to win unionist support. He refused to send Union troops to occupy the state and declined to impose a land blockade of trade against Kentucky.

What was special about the border states?

“Border states” was the term applied to a set of states which fell along the border between North and South during the Civil War, They were distinctive not merely for their geographical placement, but also because they had remained loyal to the Union even though enslavement was legal within their borders.

Another characteristic of a border state would be that a considerable anti- enslavement element was present within the state which meant that, while the economy of the state would not have been heavily tied to the institution, the population of the state could present thorny political problems for the Lincoln administration.

The border states are generally considered to have been Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri. By some reckonings, Virginia was considered to have been a border state although it did eventually secede from the Union to become part of the Confederacy.

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Which state was most important to the Union?

Border States – Brothers at War – >> What were the border states? The border states during the Civil War were the slave states that didn’t leave the Union. These states included Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri. West Virginia, which separated from Virginia during the war, was also considered a border state. Why Was The Border State Of Maryland Vital To The Union Border States by Ducksters

Kentucky – President Abraham Lincoln considered Kentucky’s loyalty to the Union as an important factor in the Union winning the Civil War. Kentucky began the war as a neutral state, but later came under Union control. Maryland – Maryland was also very important for the Union. The land of Maryland was the only thing standing between Virginia and the Union capital at Washington D.C. The war would have gone very differently had Maryland seceded from the Union. Maryland voted to abolish slavery during the war in 1864. Missouri – At the start of the war Missouri decided to remain with the Union and not secede, but many people in the state felt that the war against the Confederacy was wrong. As the war progressed, the Missouri state government split into two rival governments. One of the state governments voted to secede from the Union while the other wanted to stay. As a result, the state was claimed by both the Union and the Confederacy for a period of time. Delaware – Although Delaware was a slave state, few people in the state were enslavers at the outbreak of the war. The state didn’t actually border any Confederate states and was always loyal to the Union. West Virginia – When the state of Virginia seceded from the Union, West Virginia broke away and formed its own state. It remained loyal to the Union, however, the people of West Virginia were split. Around 20,000 West Virginia men fought on the side of the Confederacy.

Other Border States Other states that are sometimes considered border states include Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Kansas. All of these states had strong support for both the Confederacy and the Union.

Why were they important? Did everyone support the Union? Slavery and Emancipation Did brothers really fight brothers? Interesting Facts about the Border States During the Civil War

Keeping control of the border states played an important role in the victory for the Union. These states gave the Union the advantage in troops, factories, and money. Not everyone in the border states supported the Union. In some cases, like Missouri and West Virginia, the support for each side was fairly evenly split.

  • Thousands of soldiers from the border states headed south and joined the Confederate Army.
  • There were also politicians in these states who fought hard for secession.
  • Even if they didn’t want secession, many of the people of the border states thought the war against the Confederacy was wrong.
  • They felt that the states should be able to leave the country if they wanted.

The border states were the primary reason that President Lincoln waited so long to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Abolitionists in the North were demanding that he free the enslaved. However, Lincoln knew he needed to win the war. He was stuck between wanting to free the enslaved and needing the border states to win the war.

Abraham Lincoln once said that “I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.” Brothers James and William Terrill each became brigadier generals, William for the North and James for the South. Although Tennessee seceded, it came under Union control in 1862. Missouri and Kansas became the home of small raids and guerrilla warfare. The worst of these raids was the Lawrence massacre where a small band of Confederates killed around 160 civilians in Lawrence, Kansas.


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What were the border states and why were they important quizlet?

Border states: Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri. Border states were important during the Civil War because all had strategic locations. Missouri could control part of the Mississippi River and major routes to the West. Kentucky controlled the Ohio River.

Why were the border states absolutely critical to the Union cause in 1861 62?

Border states were crucial to the Union cause, giving the Union advantages in money, troops, and factories. Lincoln used his power to suspend habeas corpus (to bring to court) throughout the U.S. in order to protect the Union against spies, prisoners of war, and supporters of the Confederate cause.

Was Maryland a border state?

Maryland in the American Civil War Learn how both Union and Confederate regiments and commanders came from Maryland and learn about their battles in the state Discover how the socioeconomic and political divisions that contributed to the American. © Civil War Trust () During the American Civil War, Maryland was a border state.

  • Maryland was a slave state, but it never seceded from the Union.
  • Throughout the course of the war, some 80,000 Marylanders served in Union armies, about 10% of those in the USCT.
  • Somewhere around 20,000 Marylanders served in the Confederate armies.
  • It’s really difficult to ascertain because many traveled to Virginia and joined Virginia regiments.

On April 19, 1861, some of the first bloodshed of the war occurred in the streets of Baltimore during the Pratt Street Riot. Soon after, Baltimore was placed under martial law. In September of 1862, there was the Battle of South Mountain and a few days later, on September 17, 1862, was the single bloodiest day of combat during the war at Antietam Creek.

In 1864, there was the Battle of Monocacy. Several prominent military commanders were born in Maryland, including Confederate generals James Jay Archer and Confederate General George H. Steuart, both of whom commanded brigades at Gettysburg. Other prominent Maryland personalities included John Wilkes Booth, who was born in Maryland, and Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman.

The term brother versus brother is bandied around in the Civil War. On May 23, 1862, at the Battle of Front Royal, the 1st Maryland Confederate Infantry actually fought against the 1st Maryland Union Infantry. And here at Gettysburg, at this very spot, Maryland soldiers from the Northern army actually fired into southern Marylanders represented by the monument behind us.

Which were border states that stayed under Union control?

Learn more about this topic: – Civil War Border States: Definition & Significance from Chapter 11 / Lesson 16 Explore the significance of border states. Learn which states were border states, why the border states were important during the Civil War, and what they did during the war.

Which of the following border state remained in the Union?

Common Questions about the loyalty of the border states in the American Civil War – Q: What were the four border states in the Civil War? The four border states in the civil war were Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware. Also considering the events that led a piece of the state of Virginia, to split from the state and form a new state called West Virginia, which in effect became a fifth border state.

Q: Is Kentucky a Confederate state? Kentucky at first hoped to remain neutral and sent no troops in response to Lincoln’s call for volunteers. But Lincoln’s hands-off policy paid off gradually and in special elections for Congress and the state legislature, Unionists won convincingly in Kentucky. Q: Why did Kentucky stay in the union? Kentucky stayed in the union because on September 3, 1861, Confederate General Leonidas Polk ordered Southern troops to occupy Columbus, Kentucky, a strong point on the Mississippi River.

It was a wise military move but politically it was a disaster, so the Unionist asked the federal government to help drive the Confederates out by creating a military force to oppose Confederates in the state.

Why were the border states absolutely critical to the Union cause in 1861 62?

Border states were crucial to the Union cause, giving the Union advantages in money, troops, and factories. Lincoln used his power to suspend habeas corpus (to bring to court) throughout the U.S. in order to protect the Union against spies, prisoners of war, and supporters of the Confederate cause.

How were the borders of Maryland decided?

Border disputes (1681–1760) – Main articles: and The royal charter granted Maryland the land north of the up to the, A problem arose when granted a charter for, The grant defined Pennsylvania’s southern border as identical to Maryland’s northern border, the 40th parallel.

But the grant indicated that Charles II and assumed the 40th parallel would pass close to when it falls north of, the site of which Penn had already selected for his colony’s capital city. Negotiations ensued after the problem was discovered in 1681. A compromise proposed by Charles II in 1682 was undermined by Penn’s receiving the additional grant of what is now Delaware.

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Penn successfully argued that the Maryland charter entitled Lord Baltimore only to unsettled lands, and Dutch settlement in Delaware predated his charter. The dispute remained unresolved for nearly a century, carried on by the descendants of William Penn and Lord Baltimore—the, which controlled Maryland, and the, which controlled Pennsylvania.1732 map of Maryland The border dispute with Pennsylvania led to Cresap’s War in the 1730s.

Hostilities erupted in 1730 and escalated through the first half of the decade, culminating in the deployment of military forces by Maryland in 1736 and by Pennsylvania in 1737. The armed phase of the conflict ended in May 1738 with the intervention of King George II, who compelled the negotiation of a cease-fire.

A provisional agreement had been established in 1732. Negotiations continued until a final agreement was signed in 1760. The agreement defined the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania as the line of latitude now known as the Mason–Dixon line. Maryland’s border with Delaware was based on a and the around New Castle.

How did Maryland get its boundaries?

Maryland’s Waist : Narrow Strip is Geographic Anomaly HANCOCK, Md. —

  • Maryland is the 42nd smallest state, yet, because of its peculiar shape, it stretches quite a distance, 352 miles by road from Ocean City on the Atlantic to Redhouse, a hamlet in the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Linking the panhandle of Maryland’s mountainous western area with the rest of the state is a geographic anomaly, a 1-mile-wide strip squeezed between Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
  • They call it Maryland’s narrow waist.
  • The town of Hancock, population 1,890, lies smack in the middle of Maryland’s narrow waist, between the Mason-Dixon line on the north and the Potomac River on the south.

West Virginia’s border with Maryland here is the northern-most point on the Potomac River. Pennsylvania’s border with Maryland at Hancock is the Mason-Dixon line. (Englishmen Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, in the mid-1760s, surveyed disputed, overlapping land grants to determine the 233-mile boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Before the Civil War, the Mason-Dixon line was accepted as the dividing line between slave and free states.) Life in Maryland’s waist is a little different. Lifelong Marylander For some, such as 66-year-old Charles Lutman, loyalties run deep. “I’m a lifelong Marylander. I never go over to Pennsylvania or West Virginia, each less than a mile away.

There’s not much of Maryland in this part of the state, but there’s enough of Maryland here for me,” he insisted, holding his dog Charlie on his lap as he relaxed in a rocking chair on the front porch of his century-old frame home on Main Street. “I sit on my front porch here in Hancock and look across the Potomac into West Virginia.

  • I look to the north and see cows grazing on the hills of Pennsylvania,” said Sally Fost, 59, a member of the Hancock Town Council.
  • Hancock policeman Elzy Golden, 27, told how he “chases speeders across the state line all the time into Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
  • It’s legal.
  • Sometimes I cross the state line in pursuit of a criminal.

You can’t help it around here. Officers from West Virginia and Pennsylvania chase law violators into Maryland. “Sometimes they chase a suspect or speeder across two state lines before they catch ‘em. We have a routine worked out so we don’t wind up in court over the state-line issue.” None of the four Hancock policemen live in Hancock.

  1. Chief Riley Trumpower, 55, lives in Big Pool, Md., 10 miles to the east.
  2. Officer Howard Prevost, 40, doesn’t even live in the same state.
  3. He lives in West Virginia-in Berkeley Springs.
  4. Fire departments from the three states have agreements allowing them to cross state lines to fight fires in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“We fight almost as many fires in Pennsylvania and West Virginia as we do in Maryland,” explained Hancock Fire Chief Jim Younker, 45. “In two minutes time around here we can be in three states.” Scores of families in Pennsylvania and West Virginia have a Maryland address.

  1. Nancy Hensley, 44, reporter-photographer for the weekly Hancock News, regularly covers stories in all three states.
  2. “A lot of our circulation is in West Virginia and Pennsylvania because people live closer to Hancock than to Needmore and Warfordsburg in Pennsylvania or to Berkeley Springs in West Virginia,” she noted.
  3. Historic Area

This is a historic area. Many families in Maryland’s narrow waist and nearby Pennsylvania and West Virginia trace their ancestors to the early 1700s when the tri-state area was first settled. “Anyone who has lived here any length of time has relatives close by in all three states,” said reporter Hensley.

A visitor center for the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park is on Main Street in Hancock. The 184.5-mile-long historic canal parallels the Potomac and runs from Washington to Cumberland, Md. On May 17, 1785, the Potomac Co. was created for the express purpose of planning, building and operating the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.

George Washington was its first president and served in that capacity until he became President of the United States. The important commercial waterway, in use until 1924 by mule-drawn canal boats, became a national historic park in 1971. The old mule towpath is now a popular trail used by hikers, cyclist and horseback riders.

Every day hundreds of Pennsylvanians and West Virginians drive to and from Maryland’s narrow waist. They work in Hancock’s three large factories, which employ more than 1,000 workers-the London Fog garment plant, Rayloc, a car-parts company, and Fleetwood Industries. Many out-of-staters also work at several smaller businesses in Hancock or for the town government.

Elected officials, however, must live within the town limits. During the week, hundreds of others pour into Hancock from Pennsylvania and West Virginia to purchase liquor at several large retail liquor outlets. Liquor is cheaper in Maryland. Pennsylvanians especially come in large numbers, much to the chagrin of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Pennsylvania has the highest state liquor taxes in the nation, 25%. Maryland’s liquor tax is only 5%. In Pennsylvania, liquor is tightly controlled for sale only at state liquor stores. Undercover agents and unmarked Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board cars spot check for liquor the Pennsylvania vehicles returning from Hancock.

“It is illegal to bring liquor into Pennsylvania without paying the Pennsylvania liquor taxes. Those who do so are subject to a $10 fine per bottle or can of beer and $25 for a bottle of wine or liquor,” explained Robert Ford of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

He said automobiles are often confiscated from repeat violators. “Life does get complicated with Maryland so skinny here at Hancock,” allowed Virginia Stanley, 38, who lives in Warfordsburg, Pa., seven miles to the north, and works in the Hancock Town Hall as police secretary. She also does water and sewer billing for the small Maryland municipality.

Her husband, Donald, 42, works in Berkeley Springs, W.V., 13 miles from their home, where he drives a propane gas truck. He drives to and from work every day on the shortest state highway in Maryland, 522-only 1-miles long. Virginia Stanley said she shops for clothes in Pennsylvania because that state has no tax on clothing, while Maryland and West Virginia do.

She and her husband fill their cars with gas in Hancock, because gas taxes are less in Maryland. They do some of their grocery shopping in West Virginia, because it’s cheaper there. “Income taxes around here are something else,” she grimaced. “I pay a Maryland state income tax withheld from my check. But because I am not a resident of Maryland, it is refunded at the end of the year.

My husband does the same in West Virginia. We take those refunds to pay our Pennsylvania state income tax.” In addition to federal and state income taxes, Fulton County, where the Stanleys live, levies a 1% tax on wages they earn in West Virginia and Maryland.

  1. At one time you had to pay income taxes to two states, the state where you worked and the state where you lived.
  2. For years, I paid state income taxes to Maryland and West Virginia,” lamented Lester Steiner, 65, member of the Hancock Town Council.
  3. We can tell right off what state people live in around here,” said Virginia Stanley with a big grin.

“By their accents. I have a Pennsylvania accent. People living in Hancock have a Maryland accent. The West Virginians have their own peculiar way of speaking.” Such is life in Maryland’s narrow waist. : Maryland’s Waist : Narrow Strip is Geographic Anomaly

Why was the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland significant?

The line was established to end a boundary dispute between the British colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania/Delaware. Due to incorrect maps and confusing legal descriptions, the royal charters of the three colonies overlapped.