Friday, March 6, 2020

Colony, Chapter 3: Massachusetts' conquest of Maine

Maine is celebrating the bicentennial of its statehood this year, but the story of our beginnings lies in the millennia and centuries that preceded March 15th, 1820, the day we regained our independence from Massachusetts. 

Colony, an ongoing six-part series in the Maine Sunday Telegram, tells that story, and the third installment appeared last Sunday, telling the story of how Massachusetts Bay annexed the formerly-independent colony of Maine in the 1650s. At one point they even send soldiers in.

The conquest made Maine a colony of a colony, and Boston ruled what eventually became known as the District of Maine -- which didn't even border on the rest of the Commonwealth -- in the interests of mainland Massachusetts, not the people living on the eastern frontier. As we'll see in the next three chapters of Colony, this experience, which lasted until 1820, fundamentally shaped Maine's culture, economy and self-conception.

If you enjoy this series and want more, consider reading my cultural history of Maine, The Lobster Coast: Rebels, Rusticators and the Struggle for a Forgotten Frontier (Viking, 2004) and, on Maine-Wabanaki relations in more recent times, the Portland Press Herald series "Unsettled," also available as an ebook at the usual outlets.

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