Letter to the Editor, originally published on the Washington Post on April 28, 2016.
The District has been talking for years about statehood. A better idea would be to retrocede the land to Maryland. There is precedent for this: The portion of the nation’s capital ceded by Virginia in 1790 was retroceded in 1846.
Many consider the land area and population of the District to be too small to make a viable state. Retrocession would give the citizens of the District all the political rights that other Americans enjoy. The District could be incorporated by the state in a manner similar to Baltimore, giving citizens home rule, including the election of a city council and mayor.
Some Marylanders object to retrocession in the belief that it would fundamentally change the political landscape of Maryland. But the effect would be much smaller than that of making a state out of what was once a small portion of Prince George’s County, creating an entity with the power to counteract the will of Marylanders. If Maryland passes on its opportunity to regain the land ceded, it will regret it. And to repurpose the land without the express permission of the people of Maryland would be a betrayal of trust.
Maryland should petition to have the land comprising the District returned to Maryland. If the people or the federal government no longer want it for the purposes of its donation, it should be returned to Maryland with costs paid by the federal government.
Hugh M. Mealy, Annapolis