County moves to preserve Hicks House

By Dave Ryan

Dorchester Banner

CAMBRIDGE — County Council members voted unanimously Jan. 8 to accept a $40,000 state grant to help preserve the Hicks House. The building at 317 Appleby Ave. in Cambridge was once the home of Gov. Thomas Holliday Hicks.
The building was divided into five apartments, and fell into disrepair. It is now vacant and boarded up.
“It was originally built in the 1700s. The Maryland Historic Trust is interested in it,” County Grants Administrator Cindy Smith said during the meeting. “It’s significant.”
The county has spent about $7,000 on the property’s foreclosure. Ms. Smith said there is interest in buying the property — the county would recover its money in the sale — but prospective purchasers want to see the roof repaired first. The grant will be used, Ms. Smith said, for structural engineering and structural design.
Hicks was born in East New Market on Sept. 2, 1798. He was elected town constable there, and in 1824, was elected sheriff of Dorchester County. In 1830 and 1836 he was elected to the House of Delegates. In 1838, he was appointed register of wills for Dorchester, staying in that job until he was elected governor in 1858.
He joined the Native American Party, more commonly known as the Know-Nothing Party, in 1857. His election as governor was notable for fraud, voter intimidation and violence. The party was active in opposing immigration to the United States, especially of Irish Catholics. Hicks said in his inaugural address that the newcomers would change the character of the nation.
Hicks reflected the divided loyalties common at the time in Maryland and much of the rest of the country. He supported slavery but opposed secession.
In early 1861, with some states having already seceded, Hicks was pressured into calling a special session of the General Assembly, to oppose secession and the Northern attitude toward the South. The Assembly convened in Frederick, and unanimously agreed that it did not have to power to commit the state to secession.
In December of 1862, he was appointed to the U.S. Senate. He died on Feb. 14, 1865.

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