Another statue is being proposed to recognize a little-known Marylander who also helped to achieve a type of freedom for another ethnic group that didn’t have it.
Thomas Kennedy was born in Scotland in 1776 and settled in Hagerstown. When elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1817, he took issue with the existing provision in the Maryland Constitution that said “all persons professing the Christian religion are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.”
He introduced a bill that would extend to Jews “the same rights and privileges that are enjoyed by Christians” and was roundly attacked as an enemy of Christianity and compared to Judas.
Kennedy was defeated, but later was returned to the House and his bill became law in 1826. Soon afterward, two Jewish men were elected to the City Council in Baltimore.
The Associated Press reports that members of Hagerstown’s Congregation B’nai Abraham want to put a statue of Kennedy in a park across from their synagogue.
Like Douglass, Kennedy is a Marylander worth remembering.