Revolution Downeast: The War for American Independence in Maine

Revolution Downeast: The War for American Independence in Maine

Revolution Downeast: The War for American Independence in Maine

Revolution Downeast: The War for American Independence in Maine

Synopsis

"In the late eighteenth century, the area that would become the state of Maine was still part of Massachusetts - a colony of a colony within the sprawling British empire. This first comprehensive account of the Revolution "downeast" is the story of a people initially too preoccupied with day-to-day survival to pay much attention to the rising temper of imperial controversy. When war did erupt, many Maine colonists hoped that their geographical isolation and the presence of Native tribes - many of whom were longstanding British foes - would protect them from royal forces in nearby Nova Scotia. But this was not to be. Soon enemy privateers plundered the region's coastal settlements and shipping, and in 1779 the British established a base at the mouth of the Penobscot River. Heartened by the British presence, local loyalists sprang into action and transformed a revolution into a bitter civil war. For Maine, as for many other areas of the rebelling colonies, the struggle with England proved to be a divisive ordeal that heightened prewar social, economic, and political differences and created new ones. James S. Leamon notes that Maine's revolutionary experience can best be understood in the context of other conflicted regions - Georgia, Long Island, Maryland's Delmarva Peninsula, and the Carolina backcountry - where disrupted economies, British incursions, guerrilla warfare, and shifting loyalties defined the Revolution." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

In the late eighteenth century, a disgruntled resident of Maine complained that Maine was nothing but "an insignificant colony to Massachusetts." That remark has a validity for both the history of Maine and history about Maine. Since the middle of the seventeenth century, the powerful Massachusetts Bay Colony had exercised an increasing hegemony over the settlements downeast -- a hegemony legalized in the Massachusetts royal charter of 1691. From then until 1820, when it became a state, Maine remained an integral part of Massachusetts. Geographically isolated from the Bay Colony by the province of New Hampshire, and dependent on Massachusetts for its very existence, Maine was indeed a colony, in every sense of the word.

The significance of this dependency extends to the writing of Maine's early history. the larger Massachusetts context has tended to obscure Maine as a legitimate object of study, nowhere more than in the period of the American Revolution. Studies of the Revolution in Massachusetts focus on famous leaders and the "inarticulate" crowd, on towns large and small, on revolutionary agitation, on constitutions, political parties, and on Shays' Rebellion in western Massachusetts -- but not on Maine. Maine has remained a colony to Massachusetts historiographically much as it was politically and economically.

Even historians of Maine have slighted the period of the American Revolution. Where appropriate, town historians devote a chapter or so to the event, but only in the context of a particular community. Surprisingly, the basic historical surveys of Maine offer little better treatment of the Revolution. James Sullivan was a resident of Maine at the time of the Revolution and even a participant, yet his History of the District of Maine . . .

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