Our December 10th seminar was the very first showing of Nancy B. Z. Clark’s District of
Maine holding and a spectacular showing it was with thirteen frames of material covering
over 100 of the known postoffices as well as a slide show and various maps and documents
dealing with the subject. As she noted the tale of how Maine became a state is one of political
expediency, greed, religious rivalry and righteous hopes and plans.
Both the French and English claimed Maine and the French claims to a large tract persisted until the close of the
French & Indian War with the loss of Canada. There was also the rivalry between the
Puritans of New England and the Anglicism of Maine’s early founder and settlers; this created
a conflict from 1652 until 1677 with both Gorges and Massachusetts Bay claiming the land at
which point the Bay colony quietly bought out the Gorges claim.
During the Revolution the British burned Portland (Falmouth) in 1775 and occupied Castine
from 1779 to 1783. Benedict Arnold successfully marched an American army across the
Maine wilderness in winter to besiege Quebec, and was nearly successful in adding Canada
to the U.S. domain. He later won the Battle of Saratoga causing the first surrender of a
British army in the field, making it possible for Washington to continue the war and win.
During the War of 1812, New England was disaffected from ‘Mr. Madison’s war’ and traded
freely with the British until May 1814 (Napoleon abdicated April 14th), at which point the
British fleet became more aggressive beginning in May attacking the Maine coast and
occupying Eastport, Castine, Hampden, Bangor and Machias and establishing a base at
Provincetown on Cape Cod.
Led by Timothy Pickering (Washington’s Secretary of the Army) and John Lowell the New England States met in secret conclave at Hartford December 15, 1814 for the purpose of seceding from the Union (justifying Southern arguments for
secession in the Civil War) but cooler heads prevailed on January 5, 1815 and secession was
ruled out as inexpedient and unnecessary. Maine’s boundaries were not finalized at the
Revolution, or at the end of the War of 1812 and the continuing dispute led to the
‘Aroonstook War’ of 1838-9 and the boundaries were not decided until the
Webster-Ashburton treaty compromise of 1842! The final financial reconciliation’s of this
‘North-East Boundary Dispute’ were not completed until 1910!