Photos and text by Amy Davis
Maryland is not a battleground state, but the fiery first debate has pulled even those not engaged in the sport of politics into the fractious national conversation about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I thought it would be fun to visit the communities of Clinton and Trump to see if these residents had any special allegiances to the presidential candidates who share their community’s name.
Clinton is a middle class, predominantly African-American community in Prince George’s County, filled with government workers who commute to Washington, DC, Virginia or the nearby Andrews Air Force Base. Its unusual brush with presidential history stems from its most famous resident, Mary Surratt, the tavern owner who aided John Wilkes Booth after his assassination of President Lincoln. The notoriety spelled the end for the village’s name of Surrattsville. It was briefly renamed Robeysville, and became Clinton in 1879.
Trump, a small crossroads in Baltimore County, about five miles from Pennsylvania, was named after a nineteenth century settler named Simeon O. Van Trump, who ran a grocery store at Old York Road near West Liberty Road. Today few remember the Trump name, though it is still a neighborhood labeled on street maps. The farming community retains many descendants from the families of Van Trump’s day, and their names can be found on street signs, and on the gravestones behind the 228-year old West Liberty United Methodist Church. The West Liberty neighborhood, as Trump is now known, is part of White Hall.
By coincidence, in a very informal and limited survey of area residents, political preferences seem to match up consistently with the name of each community. This pair of quiet, settled communities also reflects the polarity of the country at large. The theme of change came up frequently, but means different things to different people.