William Preble's controversial interpretation of a vote on separation from Massachusetts, 1816


In September 1816, Maine towns voted on whether to separate from Massachusetts. Massachusetts regulators who set up the election required a 5 to 4 majority for separation to pass.

Since the separationists did not achieve majority, William Preble used complex and controversial logic to argue in favor of separation. This document shows Preble's reasoning for victory, which led to a major controversy at the Brunswick Convention later that month.

Shown here are the records from the counties of Cumberland, Hancock, Kennebeck, Lincoln, Oxford, Penobscot, Somerset, Washington and York. Preble used the "aggregate majority" from each county instead of the total numbers of votes in his calculation.


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