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Maryland Governor Tawes Sends National Guard Into Cambridge

July 12, 1963 - Maryland Governor J. Millard Tawes sent 425 rifle-carrying National Guard troops into the racially explosive Eastern Shore town of Cambridge today. Governor Tawes said he had taken this action “in view of the regrettable recurrence of incidents of racial violence” there in the last 48 hours. The Governor acted after six whites had been hit by gunfire during wild violence last night (pictured). Brig. Gen. George M. Gelston of Baltimore, assistant state adjutant general and commander of the troops, invoked Maryland’s modified martial law after the shootings. He imposed strict evening curfews, banned further racial demonstrations, prohibited the carrying of firearms and the sale of liquor, and decreed other security measures. Twice, General Gelston halted marches of Negro and white integrationists headed for downtown. In both cases, the demonstrators made no attempt to defy his orders to return to their headquarters and their churches. “The National Guard has come back to try to bring peace regardless of race,” General Gelston said. Stanley Branche, a local field executive of the NAACP, later told about 400 members of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee that they would obey the militia law or suffer the consequences. “We are going to respect the Guard as they respect us,” he said. He also told the group that they would swear warrants against anyone, especially Cambridge city policemen, “who ever cracked a Negro in the head.”


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