Independence Day – Downeast

Sen. Marianne Moore delivers this week’s Senate Republican radio address.

Hello, I am State Senator Marianne Moore.

On this, the 200th “Fourth of July” that Mainers have celebrated since the official start of statehood, I see no harm in taking a few moments to brag about the special place that my beloved Downeast Maine has held in both the history of our state and in the independence of our nation.

Unlike the rest of the Pine Tree State, we Downeasters have had to defend our independence on several occasions both before and long after 1776. It seems the beauty of our part of the state is a bit more attractive to foreign invaders than some others—and understandably so.

In 1775, local patriots in Machias seized a British cargo ship and set out after the armed naval vessel that had been escorting it. With a little luck and a lot of Downeast gumption, they succeeded in seizing his majesty’s sloop and in so doing carried out the first naval victory in U.S. history, winning for Machias Bay the official moniker, “Birthplace of the U.S. Navy.”

During the War of 1812, Downeast Maine technically fell back into the British Empire for a brief period as the occupation of Castine by the Crown’s forces symbolically reset the border between Massachusetts and British province of Canada at that Hancock County village.

During the Civil War, Confederate officials planned a full-scale invasion of Washington County with thousands of Confederate soldiers hoping to shake the country’s faith in President Lincoln just before he stood for reelection in 1864.

To finance this invasion, a small group of spies made their way into Calais to carry out a plan to rob the Calais Bank and use the money to help finance the invasion. Unfortunately, one of their own tipped off local authorities before the would-be robbers reached the bank, so when they walked into the lobby, they encountered more guns among the locals than they had planned, and the party of robbers was soon off to the County Jail in Machias. The invasion never occurred, and President Lincoln easily won a second term in office.

To be sure, other parts of Maine have also had their differences with the British and a few even lost their independence from the empire in the late 1830s. Following the Revolution, the northern boundary of the Province of Maine was established by treaty at the height of land that divided the watersheds between the St. Lawrence River and the rivers that fed Atlantic Ocean.

In 1838, private lumber interests in what is now Aroostook County tired of intrusion by loggers from the British province of Quebec and Mainers nearly started another war with the British Empire because of it. The bloodless Aroostook War not only gave Maine its largest county but caused the federal government to agree to a redrawn boundary that moved Maine’s northern border southward shifting some residents of what was legally Maine into Quebec.

It has not always been the British who have threatened our independence. In the midst of the Second World War, two German spies “invaded” our soil, landing at Hancock Point by submarine. They made it as far as Boston before one of the two gave himself and his companion up to authorities.

After two centuries in which our state has celebrated our independence as a nation, this Fourth of July will be a little more lonely than usual, owing to the absence of the folks from away who are usually here enjoying their summer vacations with us when Independence Day arrives.

Nevertheless, we have much to be thankful for up here in the northeast corner of our great nation and much to celebrate thanks to the generations of Mainers who came before us who helped win and sustain the independence of our great nation.

Again, I am Senator Marianne Moore of District 6, encouraging you to put the flag out in front of the house, fire up the barbecue, and enjoy a safe, healthy, and happy Fourth of July Weekend in the great State of Maine.

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