Mr. President,
members of the Senate,
special guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Tonight the Senate of Maryland pays tribute to

ARTHUR H. BRICE (1886-1960)
Senate President from 1939-1943


Arthur H. Brice was born on February 8, 1886, in Betterton, Kent County, son of Capt. Harvey (1861-?) and Elizabeth Crew (1865-1919) Brice. His father originally lived in Caroline County and was a seaman, eventually becoming a captain in the Chesapeake coastal trade. When he retired from the Bay he settled in Betterton, Kent County, became a farmer, and finally a businessman. Arthur was an only child.
Arthur H. Brice attended public schools in Betterton, and Washington College in Chestertown for two years. In 1943 he was honored by the college when he received a Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D) at the June commencement that year. After leaving college he ran a mercantile business in Betterton for five or six years. About 1910 he began farming at Betterton, in which occupation he continued the rest of his life, eventually owing 3 farms (including his home, "Ellwood Farm," and managing 2000 acres for the Clothier family of Philadelphia.
While at Washington College, Arthur Brice met and subsequently married his first wife, Carrie A. Jones of Chaney Station, Calvert County. Carrie A. Brice was the mother of their two children: A. Talbott, a physician; and, Mary Elizabeth who married Richard M. Gamber. Carrie died in 1937,  and Arthur subsequently married  a second time to Hallie Shipley.  They had no children.
Brice was a life-long Democrat, an active member of the Kent County Democratic Party, a Mason, and a Methodist.

In 1919, Arthur H. Brice began his 41 year career as a public servant in Maryland when he was elected County Commissioner for Kent. When his term expired in 1923 he moved on to the House of Delegates from Kent, serving from 1927 to 1933. He was elected to the Senate in 1935 where he remained until 1943, serving as president in 1939, 1941, and 1943.

Perhaps his greatest legislative achievement was the passage of the act acquiring Morgan College.  According to one historian "it was Arthur H. Brice, President of the Senate, who finally managed to line up the votes in the upper house that made the bill's passage a practical certainty.  Without his persistent and courageous support this great reform would never have become the law of Maryland." [Kirwin, 1962, p. 375]

In presiding over the Senate, Brice was known for his rapid gaveling of legislation as the clock ticked closer to midnight of the ninetieth day. In 1939, for example, while Jesse Holmes, the reading clerk, used a long pole to push back the hands to keep the time from running out, President Brice pushed legislation through at the rate of a law a minute, chanting the familiar "... the question arises on the adoption of a favorable report, all in favor vote aye, contrary no, ayes have it, favorable report adopted; bill on second reading, are there any amendments, the chair hears none, the bill is ordered passed to its third reading and final passage;  the Senator from Washington County moves that the rules be suspended for the purposes of putting the bill on third reading and final passage, clerk will call the roll on suspension of the rules. ..."   So it went until the sun rose on another day and the clock was permitted to reach midnight, with a total that year of 779 bills finally voted on and presented to the Governor for his signature. [as related by Harry W. Kirwin in The Inevitable Success:  Herbert R. O'Conor, 1962, p. 250]  I suspect it is no wonder that for the first and, as far as I know, the last, time, a bill signing was held in the bedroom of an exhausted Senate President.


from Fred. G. Usilton, History of Kent County (ca. 1981),  p.280

Brice's state service continued after he retired from the Senate. He was a member of the Public Service Commission Department of Pubic Utilities, 1941-1951; Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 1950-1951;  chairman, Board of Natural Resources, 19511955; chairman, Commission of Tidewater Fisheries, 1951-1955; and,  an ex-officio member of the Water Pollution Commission, 19511955.
Brice was also a member of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in his capacity as chairman of the Commission on Tidewater Fisheries, 195354, and he was a delegate to two Democratic National Conventions.

While his career as public servant was for the most part exemplary, Senator Brice did have one weakness shared by many of his contemporaries.  He liked to hunt ducks. In December 1954 he and his top aide on the Tidewater Fisheries Commission were apprehended for duck baiting and forfeited their $90.00 collateral.  As a result, Governor McKeldin, found it necessary to relieve him of his duties as on the Tidewater Fisheries Commission, and, consequently,  as Chairman of the Board of Natural Resources.
 

Arthur H. Brice retired to his farm where he was stricken on Friday, July 22, 1960. He died three days later, on Monday, July 25, 1960 at 10:15 p.m. Following funeral services at the Betterton Methodist Church he was buried in Still Pond Cemetery, Kent County.

Arthur H. Brice's gavel returns to the Senate as a gift from his grandson, Arthur Brice.   It will be cared for in the Special Collections of the Archives where it will be available for exhibit, and for use on special occasions by the Senate.
 
 

remarks on the
Presentation of the Arthur H. Brice Gavel
February 7, 2000
by
Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse, State Archivist