Theodore McKeldin

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Theodore R. McKeldin
Theodore McKeldin portrait.jpg
53rd Governor of Maryland
In office
January 10, 1951 – January 14, 1959
Preceded by William Preston Lane Jr.
Succeeded by J. Millard Tawes
38th and 42nd Mayor of Baltimore
In office
January 1, 1963 – January 1, 1967
Preceded by Philip H. Goodman
Succeeded by Thomas D'Alesandro III
In office
May 16, 1943 – May 16, 1947
Preceded by Howard W. Jackson
Succeeded by Thomas D'Alesandro Jr.
Personal details
Born (1900-11-20)November 20, 1900
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Died August 10, 1974(1974-08-10) (aged 73)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Honolulu Manzer
Children 2
Alma mater Baltimore City College
University of Maryland (LLB)

Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin (November 20, 1900 – August 10, 1974) was an American politician. He was a member of the United States Republican Party, served as Mayor of Baltimore twice from 1943–47 and 1963–67, and was the 53rd Governor of Maryland in the United States from 1951 to 1959.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

McKeldin was born in Baltimore to the family of a stonecutter turned policeman. He had 10 other siblings. He attended Baltimore City College at night while working as a bank clerk during the day. He graduated from the University of Maryland Law School in 1925. Two years later, he began his political ascent when worked as a secretary to Mayor Broening.[4] Mckeldin was also a vice president of the local chapter of the Junior Chamber of Commerce. In 1934, he was a founding member of Santa Claus Anonymous, a charity organization started during the great depression to support children in need.

Political career[edit]

McKeldin challenged the incumbent Mayor of Baltimore, Howard W. Jackson, in the election of 1939, but was defeated. In the election of 1942, McKeldin again challenged an incumbent, but this time it was the governor of Maryland, Herbert R. O'Conor. Again, McKeldin was defeated.

However, McKeldin persisted and was elected mayor of Baltimore in 1943 and as of 2017, is the most recent Republican to serve as mayor. As mayor, he oversaw the construction of Friendship Airport (now known as the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport). However, Baltimore saw hard times during this period following the Second World War, with the inner city decaying, ghettos forming, and racial prejudice still present in government policy-making. McKeldin ran a second time for Governor in 1946, challenging William Preston Lane Jr., but was defeated yet again.

McKeldin ran for governor a third time in 1950, successfully defeating Lane in a rematch. As governor, McKeldin endeavored to improve the state highway system, namely by establishing the Baltimore Beltway (now I-695), the Capital Beltway (I-495), and the John Hanson Highway (US 50 between Washington, DC and Annapolis). He was a staunch supporter of interstate cooperation, saying once: "I rode by train over several state borders. I carried no passports. No one asked me to identify myself. No one had the right to. This is America." He was also an advocate for civil rights for African Americans and was awarded the Sidney Hollander Award.[5]

In 1952 McKeldin was a major figure in the moderate Republicans of the East Coast who were instrumental in gaining the Republican nomination for president for Dwight Eisenhower. Speaking in the stentorian tones that were common for the time, McKeldin delivered the principal nominating speech for the general at the Republican National Convention.

In 1954, he was re-elected against Democratic nominee University of Maryland President Curley Byrd by 54.46% to 45.54%. McKeldin retired in 1959 from the governorship and returned to his law practice in Baltimore. In 1963, he returned to public service after again being elected as mayor of Baltimore, focusing on the urban renewal of the Baltimore Inner Harbor. He saw the city council vote to condemn 700 homes of the Rosemont neighborhood in 1966 to build the East West Expressway "Highway to nowhere" that he started as a project with Robert Moses in 1941.[6][7] McKeldin served his second term as mayor until 1967. He is to date the last Republican to be elected mayor of Baltimore.


Theodore McKeldin was born in Baltimore, Maryland, attending Maryland public schools and later graduating from Baltimore City College. He furthered his education by earning his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1925 and with some graduate work at Johns Hopkins University. McKeldin married Honolulu Claire Manzer on October 17, 1924. They had two children, Theodore Jr. and Clara.

He died on August 10, 1974, and is buried in Greenmount Cemetery.



  1. ^ "Theodore R. McKeldin (1900-1974) Biographical Series; Governor of Maryland, 1951-1959 (Republican)". Archives of Maryland, MSA SC 3520-1484. Maryland State Government. 9 November 2001. Retrieved 11 September 2018. 
  2. ^ White, Jr., Frank F. (1970). The Governors of Maryland 1777-1970. Annapolis: The Hall of Records Commission. p. 285-291. ISBN 978-0942370010. Retrieved 11 September 2018. 
  3. ^ Vera Foster Rollo. Your Maryland A History. p. 387. 
  4. ^ "Theodore R. McKeldin, 1951–1959". Retrieved 17 December 2015. 
  5. ^ Maryland Historical Society: Sidney Hollander Collection 1926–1972
  6. ^ Elfenbein, Jessica, Hollowak, Thomas L., Nix, Elizabeth. Baltimore '68 : Riots and Rebirth in an American City. p. 62. 
  7. ^ "Governor O'Malley Breaks Ground on Removal of West Baltimore's 'Highway to Nowhere' MARC Station improvement plan reunites West Baltimore communities". Retrieved 28 August 2014. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Howard W. Jackson
Mayor of Baltimore
Succeeded by
Thomas L. J. D'Alesandro Jr.
Preceded by
William Preston Lane Jr.
Governor of Maryland
Succeeded by
J. Millard Tawes
Preceded by
Philip H. Goodman
Mayor of Baltimore
Succeeded by
Thomas L. J. D'Alesandro III
Party political offices
Preceded by
Harry Nice
Republican nominee for Governor of Maryland
1942, 1946, 1950, 1954
Succeeded by
James Devereux