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About Edwin Warfield, Governor
Edwin Warfield (May 7, 1848 – March 31, 1920), a member of the United States Democratic Party, was the 45th Governor of Maryland in the United States from 1904 to 1908.
Edwin Warfield was born to Albert G. Warfield and Margaret Gassaway Warfield at the "Oakdale" plantation in Howard County, Maryland. He received early education at the public schools of Howard County and at St. Timothy's Hall in Catonsville, Maryland. After the abolition of slavery in the United States, Warfield had to return home frequently to help run his family's estate. He also spent time as a teacher in the county schools, and, in his spare time, studied for admission to the bar. Warfield founded The Daily Record as a court and commercial paper in 1888. By his father he was a 3rd cousin to the Duchess of Windsor (née Bessie Wallis Warfield), wife of the abdicated king of the United Kingdom, Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor.
In 1874, Warfield was appointed to the office of Register of Wills for Howard County to fill a vacancy. He was elected to a full six-year term the following year, and served until 1881. He was appointed to the Maryland Senate following the resignation of Arthur Pue Gorman, was re-elected in 1883, and served as President of the Maryland Senate during the 1886 session.
While in the Senate, Warfield began his own law practice in Ellicott City, Maryland, and purchased the Ellicott City Times, where he served as editor from 1882 to 1886. He also founded a bank in the city, where he worked until 1890.
During the 1884 Presidential election, Warfield made significant contributions to the campaign of Grover Cleveland in Maryland. Following the election of Cleveland, he appointed Warfield to serve as Surveyor of the Port of Baltimore beginning April 5, 1885. Warfield served in that position until May 1, 1890, after the Republicans returned to power. In 1890, Warfield married Emma Nicodemus, with whom he had three daughters and one son.
In 1890, after his removal from Surveyor, Warfield founded the Fidelity and Deposit Company in Baltimore where he served as president until his death. He was chosen as a delegate to the 1896 Democratic National Convention, but otherwise remained out of politics for nearly a decade.
Governor of Maryland
Warfield chose to run for Governor of Maryland in 1899, but lost the Democratic nomination after he was opposed by influential Maryland politicians, including Arthur Pue Gorman. However, even though it was apparent the party bosses did not hold him in favor, he again sought the nomination in 1903. He was successfully nominated by the party, and defeated his Republican opponent, Stevenson A. Williams, by over 12,600 votes. He was inaugurated on January 13, 1904.
The most significant event of his tenure as Governor came when Arthur Pue Gorman, who had opposed Warfield's election, proposed the Gorman Amendment to the Maryland Constitution, which would have effectively disenfranchised all black voters in the state. The bill easily passed the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, but Warfield refused to sign the bill into law. While Warfield was in favor of some of the bill's provisions, such as denying the vote to the less-educated black voters of the state, he feared it would eventually lead to greater levels of disenfranchisement which could threaten all voters in the state. The bill was put before the public, and was defeated by 30,000 votes, a defeat to the party in which Warfield played a major role in. Warfield's actions in this affair further alienated him from the Democratic machine in Maryland, which was openly hostile towards him by the time he left office.
As governor, Warfield also favored the establishment of direct-voting for U.S. Senators. He argued this before the General Assembly in 1906, believing the power should be in the hands of the people. The direct election of senators eventually became national law with the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Other accomplishments as Governor included the legalization of the Flag of Maryland, the return of the body of American Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and the remodeling of the Maryland State House to match its appearance when George Washington resigned his position in the Revolutionary Army at the State House in 1784. Warfield left office in January 1908.
Later life and legacy
After his tenure as Governor, Warfield returned to his previous activities. He became president of the Fidelity Trust Company, in addition to retaining his presidency at the Fidelity and Deposit Company. He also served as President of the Maryland Historical Society.
Warfield's health began to deteriorate in late 1919, and he was confined to his home in Baltimore during the last few months of his life. He died there, and was interred in his family burial ground at "Cherry Grove" in Howard County.
Warfield was eulogized by the Baltimore Sun not as a man who made definitive accomplishments, but for standing up to the Democratic machine and supporting the public interest, and for transforming the office of the Governor into an institution responsible to the public, not the party.
In Columbia, Maryland, Governor Warfield is remembered as one of the few persons to have a street named for him in the city. In the Columbia Town Center neighborhood, Governor Warfield Parkway runs along the west side of The Mall in Columbia for less than a mile between Little Patuxent Parkway. In 1914, a dredge named the Gov. Warfield helped to dig the Cape Cod Canal.