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"Northern New Englanders’ Maine Chance to Break Away" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2020 9:07 p.m. PST

…From Massachusetts

"As 1819 was becoming 1820, William King should have been celebrating. After a 35-year struggle to cleave from Massachusetts, the District of Maine, King's home turf, was about to become a state. One of Maine's richest shipbuilders—he was known as "the Sultan of Bath" in that center of shipwrighting—King, 50, had played so instrumental a role in bringing about this profound change that it was widely thought he would be the new state's first governor. King had just fathered his first son and second child, born on Christmas. The baby and his mother, Ann, were healthy. However, rather than feeling jubilant King was awash in incredulity. Inexplicably, far to the south in Washington, DC, Congress had embroiled Maine's statehood bill in the fight to restrict slavery in states joining the Union.

Early in December 1819, members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation representing Maine had submitted the district's petition for statehood. From the delegates' perspective—and King's—approval of the request was a forgone conclusion. Maine's movers and shakers had persuaded voters and the leadership of Massachusetts to endorse the move. But letters from Maine delegates on Capitol Hill were telling King another story. Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Henry Clay (Democratic-Republican, Kentucky) had declared that Maine would not gain statehood if federal legislators insisted on restricting slavery in Missouri, a territory also petitioning to join the Union. Five of the seven men in Maine's delegation were willing to pass up statehood for the district rather than see slavery expanded. King did not condone slavery, but it had taken 35 years to get Maine to the cusp of statehood and he was not going to let politics keep that from happening…"
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