TOM CORWIN AND HIS STORY OF THE EASTERN SHORE OF MARYLAND.
When Tom Corwin was in Congress from the Warren county district, he used to be disturbed very much by hearing so much boasting and bragging from State of Maryland members, of the wonderful greatness of the eastern shore of Maryland.
Other members of Congress were bored as well as Corwin, by the eastern shore fellows continually harping upon their great eastern shore, and their great constituency — their great people !
One day an eastern shore member was speaking on some measure, and Tom declared to some of his fellow-members in his place, if that Maryland chap again said anything about his eastern shore, he would reply to it. This was, sub rosa, noised about among members, and those in the conspiracy waited for an eulogium upon the eastern shore.
Sure enough, the orator, in due time, came to the “eastern shore,” and, among other things he proclaimed :
“Look at the great State of Maryland, look at the eastem shore of Maryland from whence I come ! Why, it is the garden spot of creation, and its people are the chosen ones of mankind. It is a great country, a blessed country, a God-gifted land !”
And the orator soon sat down after all that, and Tom Corwin arose in his place, with his fellow-members around him, all expectant, but not knowing what was to come.
Among other things, orated eloquent Tom :
“The gentleman from Maryland speaks most eloquently and opportunely, of his great State, and pronounces the eastern shore of that great State, ‘ the garden spot of creation, and its people a blessed people.’
In reference to this, I have a fact to relate, if I can command sufficient attention.”
Everybody in the House was now full of attention.
“Mr. Speaker, I am a lawyer, and I had a case in court one day, in my town of Lebanon, Warren county, Ohio.
It was a case of much importance, and my success in it depended upon the evidence of an aged, venerable, white-headed witness, near four-score years ; and I called him to the witness stand, and he gave his most important testimony, and my case, I thought, was won. But the lawyer on the other side commenced to cross-examine the witness, to break him down, if possible, on account of his extreme old age and necessary want of memory, and says he to the witness, ‘ My aged friend, how old might you be?’
The old, white-headed witness looked around at the court and at the jury and at me and then, at last, at the cross-examining attorney, and he answered, ‘I am just forty-two years of age, next month!”
This was an astonisher, an amazer. I was amazed, and felt that my witness would certainly be completely broken down for lunacy. All in court were surprised.
The cross-examiner continued, ‘ only forty-two years of age ! why, old man, you look to be at least eighty years of age.’
” ‘Well,’ said the witness, ‘ I will tell you how that is : the first part of my life I spent on the eastern shore of the State of Maryland. I was born there, — on the eastern shore ! and I lived around, and lost there thirty-eight years, and under the good God I have always thought that in estimating and numbering my years.
He would not take account of the years gone and lost, on that God-forsaken eastern shore of Maryland, and therefore, I am forty -two years of age!
This was enough — quite enough — and the Maryland harp of a thousand strings never sounded more “My Maryland ” or the ” Eastern shore of Maryland,‘” in the halls of Congress ! Never !
The Old Court House: Reminiscences and Anecdotes of the Courts and Bar of Cincinnati (1880)
Corwin served in the United States House of Representatives representing the “Warren County district (Ohio)” in 1821 – 1823 and 1829 – 1830.
During this period Maryland Congressmen from the Eastern Shore included Thomas Bayly, John Leeds Kerr, George Edward Mitchell, John S. Spence, Richard Spencer, Ephraim King Wilson, and Robert Wright.