Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Lloyd Lowndes, Jr. (1845-1905)
MSA SC 3520-1474

Governor of Maryland, 1896-1900

The following essay is taken from Frank F. White, Jr., The Governors of Maryland 1777-1970 (Annapolis:  The Hall of Records Commission, 1970), p. 221-224.

"LLOYD LOWNDES, Maryland’s first Republican governor after the Civil War, was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, on February 21, 1845. His father, also named Lloyd Lowndes, was descended from Benjamin Tasker, Maryland colonial governor, Edward Lloyd the President of the Council and Acting Governor in 1709, and Edward Lloyd, Governor in 1809. Governor Lowndes’ mother had been Maria Moore prior to marriage. Governor Lowndes attended Clarksburg Academy until he was sixteen following which he entered Washington College, in Washington, Pa., remaining there until 1863. He later transferred to Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., from which he was graduated in 1865. He then entered the University of Pennsylvania Law School from which he received his law degree in 1867.

"Lowndes’ father moved to Cumberland where he had opened a store. After the younger Lowndes had completed his education, he joined his father at that place, very shortly thereafter giving up his law practice for new interests in finance, milling and mining enterprises.

"On December 2, 1869, Lowndes was married to his cousin Elizabeth Tasker Lowndes. They had [seven] children, [six] sons and a daughter.1

"Lowndes’ first venture in politics was as Republican candidate for Congress in the Grant-Greeley presidential campaign of 1872. In this campaign, he demonstrated his popularity by defeating the Democratic incumbent, John Ritchie, by over 3,200 votes. When he took his seat in the Forty-Third Congress he had the distinction of being its youngest member, being at the time only twenty-eight. During the session, the Republicans introduced a civil rights bill through which the Party planned to impose further penalties upon the Southern States. The measure was one which every Republican had been expected to support, but Lowndes, despite his youth and the certainty of disaster which was sure to follow that course, courageously opposed what he felt to be an unjust measure. He and five other Republicans in the House voted with the Democrats against it. During his term, he was assigned to several important committees, but his course in opposing Republican leaders resulted in his defeat in 1874, when he was a candidate for re-election. After his Democratic opponent, William Walsh, defeated him in 1874, Lowndes retired completely from [p. 222] politics for the next twenty-four years, concentrating his efforts upon his business activities.

"Lowndes was the owner or part owner of extensive coal lands, and took an active part in the management of the companies which operated these lands. In addition to his coal interests, he was connected with the management of several financial institutions. He became a director and later the President of the Second National Bank of Cumberland. He was also a member of the executive board of the International Trust Company and a director of the Fidelity and Deposit Company. He was a director of the Frostburg Gas Light Company, the Union Mining Company and the Potomac Coal Company. He also owned the Cumberland Daily News. Finally, he supervised the farming of his large Allegany County estate.

"Even though Lowndes was not a candidate for office between 1874 and 1895, he continued to exert strong influence over Republican politics in Maryland. In 1880, he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. In 1891, the Republicans asked him to be their candidate for governor, but he refused. In 1895, however, he broke his long political silence by accepting the nomination.

"From 1867 to 1895, the Democratic party controlled the State government. By the middle 1890’s, the people of Maryland had become dissatisfied with that party because of a conflict over party leadership, conflicting economic interests, and the growing desire for political change. In the Democratic Party, a number of candidates contested the nomination. John E. Hurst was the final choice. The Republicans taking advantage of Democratic discord, waged an outstanding campaign led by the State Chairman, George L. Wellington, and brought forth Lloyd Lowndes, who was elected by an 18,000 vote majority. 'What followed was, in reality, a political revolution,' says Andrews.2 The Republicans gained control of the House of Delegates as well as the governorship for the first time since 1867. In the following election, that of 1897, the Republicans gained further control over the State government for the first and only time, by capturing the Senate. It also controlled the Baltimore City government.

"From the time he assumed the gubernatorial office on January 8, 1896, 'he administered the affairs of the State in a manner which elicited warm commendation from both parties, and, in spite of an unsympathetic legislature, he fulfilled his campaign pledges for reform,' observed one of his biographers.3 During his term in office, the General Assembly passed the Reform League election law, the general assessment law and the new Baltimore City Charter Law. He supported the measure which created the Bureau of Immigration aimed at encouraging immigration into sparsely settled areas. In his administration, the State published a two-volume set of its Civil War records. He promptly responded to the President’s call for troops during the Spanish-American War by sending [p. 223] to the front a part of the Maryland militia. Resolutions were adopted to appoint a commission to place the statues of Charles Carroll of Carrollton and John Hanson in the United States Capitol. During his administration and by his aid, the Maryland Geological Survey was created, a piece of constructive legislation of greater public value, perhaps, than any act of the General Assembly in many years. The Legislature also repealed the so-called 'Eastern Shore Law' by which, for over a century, one United States Senator had to be chosen to represent the Eastern Shore. The Republican ascendancy broke up the old Democratic political alliance which had been in power since the Civil War days, and as a result, new political leaders now came to the forefront. Lowndes’ administration, remarked The Sun, 'was one the best and most successful in the history of the State.'4

"The Republicans had come to power in 1896 advocating political virtue. In spite of all this constructive legislation and Lowndes’ personal accomplishments, the State very shortly was gripped by political scandals to an extent almost unheard of during the long Democratic reign. In Baltimore City, Mayor William T. Malster attempted to build his own political machine with the result that he antagonized both the liberals and the conservatives who had swept him into office. In Southern Maryland, Sidney E. Mudd, the Republican Congressman from that section also attempted to build up a machine, and in doing so, census enumerators turned in fraudulent returns. The Republican-controlled Legislature had, in addition, enacted some poor legislation, while the voters objected strenuously to the injection of the Negro into State politics. Finally, the independents and the reform elements rejected Republican Party alignment. The result was, in 1899, a foregone political conclusion. The voters rejected the Republican Party and returned the Democrats to power.

"When it met in its State Convention in 1899, the Republican Party renominated Lowndes for an unprecedented second term, an honor which up to that time was an unusual compliment in Maryland. The Democrats nominated State Senator John Walter Smith of Worcester County, and at the election held on November 7, 1899, he defeated Lowndes by a majority of over 12,000 votes. Lowndes’ defeat, commented The Sun, was 'in no way a reflection upon him persona1ly.'5

"After he retired from office, Lowndes returned to his Cumberland home where he managed his business interests and resumed his role as the State’s Republican leader. Lowndes was a close personal friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, by whom he had been entertained at the White House, and by whom he had been consulted in matters of Maryland and national politics. Lowndes was also a power in the Republican Party in Western Maryland. At the time of his death, he was regarded by many as his party’s strongest contender for the governorship in 1907. Lowndes, however, died very suddenly at his home in Cumberland on January 8, 1905. He was buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery in that city. The Sun [p. 224] eulogized him by describing him as one of the 'few men in Maryland [who] enjoyed to a greater degree the affection of his fellow citizens. While a consistent member of his party, Governor Lowndes was never a narrow partisan, and in the conduct of his high office, he gave abundant recognition to the Independent Democrats who aided in his election, even though this group later deserted his cause.'"6

Notes on sources

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