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Liberty Threatened: Maine in 1775

This slideshow contains 16 items
1
Illustration and poem, Paul Revere's Ride, c. 1880

Illustration and poem, Paul Revere's Ride, c. 1880

Item 11621 info
Maine Historical Society

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a Portland native, wrote the poem, "Paul Revere's Ride," as a reminder of the event on April 18, 1775 that preceded the opening battles of the American Revolution.

Those battles set the stage for the struggles Maine faced in 1775.

This version is from "The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with numerous illustrations."


2
Samuel Freeman postmaster appointment, 1775

Samuel Freeman postmaster appointment, 1775

Item 9222 info
Maine Historical Society

Samuel Freeman's appointment as deputy postmaster of Portland on October 1, 1755, serves as a symbol of Maine's independence from Great Britain. The United Colonies now had their own governing body and made appointments independent of the crown.

Benjamin Franklin, Esq. Post-Master-General of all the United Colonies on the Continent of North America, signed the document.


3
Jedediah Preble letter on Mowat kidnapping, 1775

Jedediah Preble letter on Mowat kidnapping, 1775

Item 7479 info
Maine Historical Society

For several years, some residents of Falmouth had protested British policy with Stamp Act riots and by stopping sugar shipments. The town voted to support the non importation boycott against British goods.

Falmouth's location on the coast made it vulnerable to British attack, so town officials were cautious about how active they wanted to be in protesting British policies.

But not everyone supported that position. Samuel Thompson and his Brunswick militia invaded Falmouth in May 1775, and took a hostage -- Lt. Henry Mowat, commanding officer of the British man-of-war, the Canceaux.

This letter from Jedediah Preble, representative of the Committee of Correspondence, to the Provincial Congress discussed the kidnapping on May 14, 1775 and Mowatt's release.

Both sides remembered the incident and neither was satisfied with the outcome.


4
Copy of letter from Samuel Graves to Philip Stephens, 1775

Copy of letter from Samuel Graves to Philip Stephens, 1775

Item 6798 info
Maine Historical Society

The British planned to stop colonial resistance by bombarding coastal towns and destroying the shipping fleets in those communities.

Samuel Graves wrote to Philip Stephens regarding the punishment of the American colonies by the British Navy for insubordination.


5
Capt. Mowat's warning to Falmouth, 1775

Capt. Mowat's warning to Falmouth, 1775

Item 6777 info
Maine Historical Society

On October 18, 1755, Mowat -- who previously had been taken hostage in Falmouth -- warned residents to evacuate before his ship, the Canceaux, opened fire.

He offered refuge aboard the British ships to loyalists.


6
Letter describing burning of Falmouth, 1775

Letter describing burning of Falmouth, 1775

Item 1283 info
Maine Historical Society

The British stuck to their plan. As this letter describes, much of the town was burned.

The shipping fleet was destroyed. The coastal ports had no naval defense of their own to counter the British barrage.

Joseph Dommett, who is mentioned in the letter, was the Deputy Comptroller of Customs for Falmouth.


7
The town of Falmouth, burnt by Capt. Moet, October 18, 1775

The town of Falmouth, burnt by Capt. Moet, October 18, 1775

Item 6278 info
Maine Historical Society

This image of Falmouth was taken from a printing plate that was manufactured about 1781.

While Falmouth was two-thirds destroyed, Machias was able to defeat the British efforts to destroy that town in June 1775.

Rebels in Machias went after the British ship Margaretta, killing the commander, then captured two more British vessels that were investigating the incident.

The events in Machias have been called the first naval battle of the Revolution.


8
Letter to George Washington on burning of Falmouth, 1775

Letter to George Washington on burning of Falmouth, 1775

Item 1286 info
Maine Historical Society

On October 24, 1775, residents of North Yarmouth and New Gloucester wrote to George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, to beseech him to take note of the burning of Falmouth.

They wanted him to guard against the British taking possession of Falmouth Neck and to offer some protection to the Maine residents.


9
Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold

Item 5464 info
Maine Historical Society

An encounter of a different sort took place in Maine in 1775 when Benedict Arnold and his army of 1,000 troops gathered in Maine to march to Quebec where they hoped to defeat the British and protect the northern borders.


10
Reuben Colburn letter about Benedict Arnold march, 1775

Reuben Colburn letter about Benedict Arnold march, 1775

Item 9169 info
Maine Historical Society

This is a report copied by Remington Hobby to Reuben Colburn signed by Dennis Getchell and Samuel Berry or Barry concerning the route through the Maine frontier in the Skowhegan area that Benedict Arnold took on the March to Quebec.

Arnold and his men followed the Kennebec River north from its mouth at Popham.


11
Benedict Arnold letter, along the Dead River, 1775

Benedict Arnold letter, along the Dead River, 1775

Item 1281 info
Maine Historical Society

The letter was written by Benedict Arnold on October 15, 1775, along his route to Quebec.

The journey was arduous, with many difficult portages. The troops lost many of their supplies and were exhausted by the difficult passages.


12
Benedict Arnold letter, Oct. 27, 1775

Benedict Arnold letter, Oct. 27, 1775

Item 8949 info
Maine Historical Society

Benedict Arnold copied this letter that he wrote from the 'Third Carrying Place" on Oct. 27, 1775 during his march to Quebec.

He decided to abandon the river route and have his soldiers march along roads or paths instead, sure that it would be easier than dealing with the heavy boats and the many "carrying places."


13
 Benedict Arnold to George Washington, Oct. 27, 1775

Benedict Arnold to George Washington, Oct. 27, 1775

Item 7954 info
Maine Historical Society

Arnold wrote to George Washington about the difficulty of the march north, noting that the roads were worse than he expected and that he was going with a small group by boat to seek provisions.

His troops were exhausted and hungry and the severe rains he mentions were from a hurricane.


14
Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold

Item 8900 info
Maine Historical Society

Only 675 of Arnold's 1,000 soldiers reached Quebec alive.

They joined with reinforcements from the west to attack the Quebec fortress on December 31, 1775.

The attack was a disaster. Arnold was wounded, 100 soldiers were killed, and 400 were captured.


15
Letter with paper from Arnold's march to Quebec, 1868

Letter with paper from Arnold's march to Quebec, 1868

Item 1368 info
Maine Historical Society

This letter written by William A. Drew contains a scrap of paper with the words: "1775 J.B. Dunkirk with Arnold."

Drew describes how the scrap was hidden in the hole of a tree in Augusta for 90 years and discovered when the tree was cut down.

The scrap is a reminder of the soldiers who joined Arnold in his ill-fated march to Quebec along the Kennebec.


16
Pension application, David Lamb, 1832

Pension application, David Lamb, 1832

Item 7955 info
Maine Historical Society

A further reminder of Arnold's march to Quebec was a pension application from a soldier who was with him. While Arnold's march had little effect on Maine, it was one more reminder in the early days of the American Revolution that Mainers would be touched in varied ways by the war.

For further reading:
James Leamon, "Revolution Downeast: the War for Independence in Maine" (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993)
Richard Judd, ed., "Maine: The Pine Tree State from Prehistory to the Present" (Orono: University of Maine Press, 1994)
"Henry Mowat: Voyage of the Canceaux, 1764-1776" (Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 2003)


This slideshow contains 16 items