County Commissioners

Posted on: September 13, 2017

Commissioners Issue Proclamation In Honor of Senator James E. Kirwan

Kirwan house

WHEREAS, 100 years ago, in the summer of 1917, at the onset of World War I, the U.S. War Department proposed that all of Kent Island should be taken over by public domain for the establishment of a large military weapons base and ammunition proving ground; and

WHEREAS, Kent Island, the largest Island in the Chesapeake Bay, at about 32 square miles, was the home of over 3,000 residents and had a long and proud history starting as the first permanent English settlement within Maryland and the third in the United States, and continuing throughout the Colonial and Early American periods; and

WHEREAS, Kent Island was an important transportation hub and one of the most prolific food producing areas of the State in the early twentieth century; and

WHEREAS, Senator James E. Kirwan, prominent Kent Island business leader, farmer, and political leader, upon learning of this plan, raised the alarm and organized a strong citizen effort to save the Island and convince the national leaders to move the base elsewhere; and

WHEREAS, in the span of less than 3 months, over 500 citizens from Kent Island and Queen Anne's County became actively engaged in the effort and in mid-September travelled en masse to Washington, D.C. by steamboat and train to stand up to Congress and the Secretary of War in person, to press them to save Kent Island; and

WHEREAS, they were ultimately successful - their skill, persistence, and commitment paid off ; and on September 17, 1917, the decision was reached and announced that Kent Island would not be taken; a decision was later made to move the planned proving ground up the Bay to a place called Aberdeen; and

WHEREAS, if that decision to save Kent Island had not been made, Kent Island and Queen Anne's County would have lost their unique historic and cultural identity and would be vastly different places today;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, in honor of the critical leadership role of Senator James E. Kirwan in saving Kent Island, THAT WE, THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF QUEEN ANNE'S COUNTY, do hereby
proclaim that September 17, 2017, on the 100th Anniversary of that fateful decision, to be Senator James E. Kirwan Appreciation Day in Queen Anne's County.

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