First Citizen Awards: 2015
Remarks before the Senate of Maryland
Edward C. Papenfuse, Maryland State Archivist, Emeritus
President Miller, members of the Senate, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
It is my privilege to be here again today to present, on your behalf, the First Citizen Awards of the Maryland Senate. Since 1992, I have had the honor, on behalf of the Senate and President Miller, of explaining the reasons for the award, and to prepare brief summaries of the many contributions the awardees have made in their lifetime of public service. The award is a boxed edition of the 1773 newspaper debate between First Citizen and Antilon by a graduate school colleague of mine at Johns Hopkins, Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of Virginia.
The text of the award says best what it means to be a First Citizen:
First Citizen is the name that Charles Carroll of Carrollton chose to sign a series of articles published by Anne Catharine Green in the Annapolis Maryland Gazette in 1773 in which he debated in print with a formidable opponent, Daniel Dulany, Jr., who, under the assumed name ‘Antilon,’ defended the Governor’s right to impose fees without legislative authority. Carroll’s articles form a strong defense of an independent legislature and were among the earliest arguments for a new concept of government based upon traditional community rights and liberties that protected its citizens from arbitrary rule.
At the time, Carroll, as a Roman Catholic, could neither vote nor hold public office because of his faith. With the publication of these articles, Carroll launched a career of public service that began with his active participation in the Revolution, gaining him a vote with the right to run for public office, and did not end until his death at the age of 95 in 1832, as the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. In addition to helping draft Maryland's first Constitution and adding his signature to the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Carroll served as President of the Maryland Senate, of which he was a member from 1777 to 1800, and as one of the first United States Senators from Maryland (1789-1792).
To be a First Citizen is to be a dedicated and effective participant in the process of making government work for the benefit of all.
Although not yet fully articulated in the First Citizen letters, Charles Carroll was challenging all citizens to think about much needed changes in government, changes that would allow people like him "freedom of speech and thought," changes that would separate the powers of the Executive and the Legislature, and that would ensure that taxation could not be imposed by anyone not subject to the laws passed by the Legislature. Carroll was among the first people in the colonies to advance a new concept of government based on the advice and consent of the people. This led to one of the most creative experiments in defining self-government that the world has ever witnessed.
To Carroll, and to others such as his distant cousin, Charles Carroll the Barrister, Samuel Chase, and William Paca, all of whom served in the Maryland Senate, making government work for the good of the whole meant a thoughtful reworking of the structure of government by writing it all down, debating the results, and crafting the final product in committees separately and of the whole. Carroll as First Citizen, saw government much as every citizen should see it today, in constant need of attention and thoughtful, timely, legislative action.
Printer to the colony and convention of Maryland
and publisher of the Maryland Gazette
Standing at the ready to assist in his first public debate over legislative rights with a seasoned politician who was widely known for his ability to win an argument, was the printer to the colony and publisher of the local newspaper, Anne Catharine Green. While women would not reach full citizenship until the 20th century, Maryland has been fortunate to have a number of women printers and editors like Anne Catharine Green who pushed the envelope of public debate through the printed word, and in doing so, advanced reasoned democracy.
|Carroll: the last word, Maryland Gazette, 1773/07/01|
Over seven months beginning in January of 1773 and ending with Carroll having the last published word on July 1, 1773, the debate between Charles Carroll and Daniel Dulany raged in print over whether or not the Governor had the right to set fees for government services without the consent of the legislature. In the end Carroll won the argument, but not until a new government was formed and George Washington had achieved a military victory over the King’s army.
In giving this award in honor of Charles Carroll of Carrollton’s career as a First Citizen of Maryland, it is important not to overlook his worthy opponent in the newspaper exchange, Daniel Dulany, and the fact that Carroll and Dulany, like our democracy, were not perfect.
Daniel Dulany was by far the best lawyer of his day, and even though he was opposed to independence, he had been the chief spokesperson who published the best known pamphlet against the notorious stamp act in 1765, and remained in Maryland to his death in 1797, where, deprived of his right to vote because he would not sign an oath of allegiance to the new government, he continued to give sound legal advice and was consulted by the government on a wide range of constitutional and legal matters. You could say that he proved to be the epitome of the loyal opposition, although his loyalty was to the old political world and not the new. He chose to write under the name “Antilon,” using it for the first time on Valentine’s Day, 1773. It was not much of a valentine as it was, what the word meant in spanish: a stinging, drawing plaster, which would draw the poison, or virus, from the arguments of First Citizen. Political writing in Dulany and Carroll’s day and ours often has sting to it, warranted or unwarranted. Fortunately for our Democracy, the attempt failed and Carroll’s arguments prevailed.
Charles Carroll’s vision of the future was clouded as well. He was a strong supporter of slavery, and could not envision a world without it, yet the government that he helped create, and the principles upon which it was founded, left the door open to slavery’s demise and a new definition of citizenship, even though it would take a bloody civil war in order to have it written into law and practice.
What is important to remember about Charles Carroll as First Citizen and Daniel Dulany as Antilon, is that they preferred the arena of written and oral debate with timely legislative action to actual dueling and armed combat to settle political differences and forging public policies. Carroll ultimately won the argument in favor of reasoned and timely actions of a duly-elected representative body including the Maryland Senate, in which Carroll would serve as its president, and resign his place in the U. S. Senate to return to its chamber.
Today the Maryland Senate recognizes three individuals whose public careers have a common thread, coping with the manifold budget challenges facing the State of Maryland. All three have served on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, and are actively engaged in a wide range of budgetary matters. One was a member of the loyal opposition, and is now faced with crafting and implementing the new governor’s budget.
Today the Maryland Senate pays tribute to the public careers of
Defining and separating the line between public responsibilities and private work for a citizen legislator with a part-time salary can prove to be a bumpy highway. Senator Currie has had to confront a Federal jury, a hostile press, and his senate peers because of his private work as a consultant, and his own inadequate record keeping. He faced up to the challenges and was acquitted of all criminal charges, but he also refused to make excuses. He characterized himself as a person with flaws and weaknesses, and vowed to do better, which in the eyes of his colleagues and his constituents who re-elected him last fall by over a 92% majority, he has continued to do. Today the Senate of Maryland pays tribute to his devotion to this institution, and to the unceasing attention he gives to the causes to which he assigns high priority, especially funding education and finding equal employment opportunities for those who need it most. From sharecropper’s son and the tobacco fields of North Carolina to being a school principal and a long serving member of the Maryland Legislature, the Maryland Senate presents Ulysses S. Currie its First Citizen Award for 2015.
Edward J. Kasemeyer:
Having appeared before Senator Kasemeyer to defend the Archives budget, I have personal knowledge of his attention to budget details and the wisdom with which he approaches the difficult task of balancing a budget in which projected income seems to always falls short of reality. As the Howard County Times put it, he is a ‘powerful’ senator who prefers to work largely out of the spotlight. One county council member described him as “a thoughtful, pragmatic official and one of the most adept politicians at balancing competing interests.” First elected to the House of Delegates in 1982, he was elected to the state senate in 1986, lost the next election, but was returned in 1994 where he has served ever since, rising to the critically important position of chairman of Budget and Taxation. As President Miller has said on at least one occasion, Senator Kasemeyer never raises his voice, but when he rises to speak, people listen. As one of his Republican colleagues points out, “he’s somebody who’s willing to listen to all sides. He’s approachable and he’s fair.” In many ways that is the essence of a First Citizen, especially when it is combined, as it is in Senator Kasemeyer, with a work ethic that produces results on behalf of his constituents and all the people of Maryland. To Senator Edward J. Kasemeyer, the Maryland Senate presents its First Citizen Award for 2015.
David R. Brinkley:
To be a member of the loyal opposition in hammering out fiscal policy and then to join the executive branch in an effort to both implement and shepherd that policy in new directions takes courage and considerable fortitude, especially when your party is not in the majority. David Brinkley has the reputation of both a large capacity for detailed budget related work and a willingness to seek solutions based upon compromise and political reality, as long, of course, as the budget is balanced and the overall costs of government are restrained, and where possible, reduced. In many respects his political mantra might be the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin at the 1787 Constitutional Convention who in his final speech to the delegates praised their willingness to accept the outcome of compromise, even though it might not have approached the perfection that had been sought by the individual members.
Perhaps Secretary Brinkley and all honorees today would agree with Franklin’s personal observation that
…[ the older he grew, the more apt he was to doubt his own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others]. Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth [said Franklin, but]... few express it so naturally as a certain french lady, who in a dispute with her sister, said "I don't know how it happens, Sister but I meet with no body but myself, that's always in the right — Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours raison."
In any event, it is with respect and appreciation for his devotion to the public interest and his determination to master the complexities of proposing budgetary policies as well as working through the inevitable results of compromise, that the Maryland Senate presents David R. Brinkley with the 2015 First Citizen Award.