While Jim Lighthizer resides in a very rural part of Dorchester County these days, quite some distance from the Talbot County Courthouse and the controversial Talbot Boys statue that rests on its lawn, he comes into that debate with significant “street cred.”
For more than two decades, Jim has spent his professional life making Civil War history both prominent and relevant as the president of the American Battlefield Trust. During that time, he and his small staff and board of directors saved 52,000 acres of open space and 130 battlefields in 24 states by raising over $500 million to keep history alive.
Jim’s name might also ring a bell for some Marylanders. Before his involvement in preserving Civil War battlefields, he was a major player in Annapolis politics for most of the 1980s and 90s. First as a Democratic state delegate, then as Anne Arundel County Executive, and finally as the state’s Secretary of Transportation under Governor William Donald Schaefer, Lighthizer gained a real appreciation for preserving history and saving land in those positions.
With that kind of unique background, the Spy couldn’t think of a better subject to interview for our ongoing series entitled “The Talbot Boys Conservation.”
At 75 years old, Lighthizer is enjoying the freedom in retirement to speak one’s mind. With echoes of his friend Donald Schaefer’s famous frank way of speaking, Jim does not hold back in making his argument that the statue should stay right where it is.
In fact, Lighthizer also notes that having the Talbot Boys located just feet away from the Frederick Douglass monument as a contributing factor in not moving the C.S.A. memorial. He makes the case that this unique juxtaposition is just the kind of thing that keeps memory and history alive for generations to come.
We stay down with Jim at the WHCP studios in Cambridge to chat this week.
This video is approximately five minutes in length.