George M. Lane:
Laying Down Roots, Taking Up The Cause
Lane, born in Virginia, was the first African-American mayoral candidate in Baltimore City.
Even if George M. Lane did no more than practice law, he would qualify as a minor historical figure, being one of the first African-Americans in Maryland to be admitted to the bar and remaining one of the few colored lawyers in Baltimore City into the twentieth century. His status as a community leader is further evidenced by his involvement in the Lexington Savings Bank as one of its founders and primary depositors--but Lane looms large primarily for his political activities.
1897 was the pivotal year for Lane. At about the same time that the Lexington Savings Bank was falling apart, Lane and other prominent black figures were organizing an independent political movement. Disgusted with the broken promises of the Republican machine that had recently come to power with their blessing and support, and expecting even less from the Democrats if they returned, these men formed what they called the Committee of 100. They developed a slate of candidates, headed by Lane as their choice for mayor, for the fall municipal and state elections. The group attracted much notice, but the ticket failed to appear on the ballot--it was disqualified on the eve of the election due to faulty petitions.
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