Protests over Confederate symbols have erupted in several cities, following white nationalist violence in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. (Amber Ferguson/The Washington Post)
Editorial writer and columnist

The violence by neo-Nazis, Klansmen and other racists in Charlottesville outraged decent people across the United States.

For the extremists’ ostensible cause — protecting Confederate monuments, such as the Robert E. Lee statue in that Virginia college town’s Emancipation Park — the fallout has been quick and counter-productive.

Wednesday night, Baltimore carried out its plans to remove four statues of Confederate generals and related figures from public spaces, by order of Mayor Catherine Pugh (D). Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that the enormous seated sculpture of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in front of the state legislature in Annapolis should also go.

While not a Confederate, Taney, a Marylander, was revered in the Civil War-era South for his decision barring African American citizenship in the 1857 Supreme Court case Dred Scott v. Sandford.

In short, five places of honor in prominent Maryland locations will soon be vacant — and there will be decisions to make about what, if anything, to put in them.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of Marylanders whose records during the Civil War and Reconstruction make them worthy of memorialization today.

Indeed, they should have been put on pedestals long ago and might have been, if not for the Southern-led post-Civil War campaign to whitewash the Confederacy, which produced statues all over the nation, such as those just removed in Baltimore and the one that still stands in Charlottesville.

Obvious candidates include African American abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, who have been belatedly but appropriately honored with a public sculpture in Baltimore and a museum in Dorchester, respectively. New statues of Douglass and Tubman for Annapolis and the U.S. Capitol have also been proposed.

Less famous but no less worthy is Judge Hugh Lennox Bond, the Baltimorean who did as much as any other white Marylander of his time for the anti-slavery and Union causes, and perhaps more.

Born in 1828, Bond was a judge in Baltimore’s criminal court when the Civil War broke out, and in that position he supported murder indictments against pro-rebel rioters who attacked the Union troops rushing to defend Washington in 1861. Amid the crisis, he also upheld the right of loyalists to fly the stars and stripes, despite a ban by the Southern-sympathizing city’s administration.

Still a judge in 1864, he welcomed Maryland’s new constitution, with its ban on slavery, by urging his fellow citizens to “let us now bow at the shrine of freedom.” Maryland courts nevertheless ordered thousands of black children declared “orphans” and assigned them to white planters as “apprentices,” but Bond issued writs of habeas corpus so they could return to their parents.

After the Civil War, he campaigned for African American voting rights; when supporters of the newly ratified 15th Amendment paraded in celebration through Baltimore on May 19, 1870, Bond stood with Douglass on the speakers’ platform.

“He rejoiced with them over their freedom,” the Baltimore American reported. Bond said it was “not alone theirs, but also of the white race.”

Two months later, on July 13, 1870, the Senate confirmed Bond as the first judge of the newly created federal court for the 4th Circuit, encompassing Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas.

In that capacity, his greatest moment came as the presiding judge in trials of hundreds of Ku Klux Klan terrorists in North and South Carolina during 1871 and 1872.

The Klan’s defense lawyers — including Marylander Reverdy Johnson, a former associate of Taney who represented Dred Scott’s enslaver in the famous case — moved to dismiss the Klan indictments on constitutional grounds.

Bond upheld the relevant statute and later sentenced convicted Klan leaders to prison — a true legal revolution. Fifteen years after Taney purported to strip black Americans of their rights in Dred Scott, Bond declared that they were entitled to federal protection against violence by whites in the South.

This earned Bond hatred and threats, which he courageously brushed off. Bond could not, alas, overcome later Supreme Court decisions that tended to undermine the stand he took at the Klan trials.

Still, Bond deserves far better treatment from history than the obscurity that set in almost from the moment of his death in 1893. No public installation in Maryland — not a park, school or courthouse — bears his name.

That can and should change. One of the statues removed Wednesday night was the large likeness of Taney that sat in midtown Baltimore’s Mount Vernon Place, near the spot where Bond joined the voting rights celebration in 1870.

Now that Taney is gone, all that remains is an empty pedestal — the perfect place for a new monument, this one honoring a jurist of whom all Marylanders can truly be proud, Hugh Lennox Bond.

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