Levin Winder was born in Somerset County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore along Monie Creek on September 4, 1757 to William and Esther (Gillis) Winder. He later served as captain in the 4th Maryland Regiment during the Revolution and rose in rank to lieutenant-colonel on June 3, 1781. After the war he returned to the eastern shore and resumed his occupation as a planter.
In 1806 he was elected as a federalist to the House of Delegates, serving three successive terms as an avid opponent of the national policies of the Republican Party and the war declaration. In June 1812, as a result of the Baltimore riots, the General Assembly elected Winder, defeating Governor Robert Bowie (1750-1818) by a vote of 52-29. Taking office that November Winder became the wartime executive and brigadier general of the 2nd Division, Eastern Shore, Maryland Militia. With the federalist continuing their opposition to the war the political affairs led to standstill between Maryland and the federal government. The bay depredations of the British navy the following spring, as well as threatening Annapolis, enabled Winder to call a special session of the Maryland Legislature on May 13, 1813 reporting “…that considerable alarms have permiated the state, in consequence of the appearance of a large naval force within the waters of the Chesapeake.”
With the advice of his Executive Council who assisted in coordinating the states’ war efforts, they continued issuing officer’s commissions, war supplies, and protection of the Chesapeake tidewater – with little financial or military assistance from the federal government.
Winder became soon aware of the Madison administration and that of the Secretary of War John Armstrong of ignoring the defense of Maryland. Although an anti-war governor, Winder had to contend with protecting the Maryland tidewater region from the increasing British attacks. Upon learning the federal government had supported Virginia in her defense, Winder remarked, “Virginia has but to ask and she received; but Maryland, for her political disobedience is denied.”
Despite the political troubles with the federal government, Winder galvanized the Maryland militia with supplies and several militia acts to protect the state from British incursions and attack serving as governor from 1812-1816. He died on July 1, 1819 and was buried on his estate on Monie Creek near Princess Anne, Somerset County, though the site of his grave has yet to be discovered.
Sources: Gerson G. Eisenberg, Marylanders Who Served the Nation: A Biographical Dictionary of Federal Officials from Maryland (Annapolis: Maryland State Archives, 1992), 233; Frank F. White, Jr. The Governors of Maryland 1770-1970. (Annapolis: The Hall of Records Commission, 1965).