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After Mr. Lincoln's speech the motion to amend was negatived and the House concurred with the Senate. A day or two afterward both houses passed an order raising a committee to examine the petitions for separation to ascertain how extensive the movement was. The committee reported that fortynine towns had petitioned, and that there were individual petitions from forty-three others; that the population of the petitioning towns was 50,264; that the individual petitioners numbered 2,936; that the whole population of the District was 228,705, in 210 towns; and that more than one-fifth of the population appeared to be asking for the change.
There was great popular activity in Maine in the months of March, April, and May. County and neighborhood meetings were held by the advocates and opponents of separation. "An immense concourse of highly respectable citizens" assembled at Augusta on the 22d of April. Among those prominent in the gathering were William King, afterward the first governor of Maine, who was the Democratic candidate for lieutenantgovernor on the ticket with Samuel Dexter, in 1814; John Neal; John Chandler; Nathan Weston, Jr.; and Henry W. Fuller, all well-known Maine men who afterward filled important places in the State government or in Washington. The convention adopted strong resolutions in favor of separation, for reasons already so familiar that they need not be repeated. A sly hit was given at Massachusetts in the suggestion that, when separated, the new State "would enjoy equally with other States the protection of the federal government in defending it from foreign invasion and in suppressing domestic insurrection." It was unanimously
"Resolved, therefore, as the sense of this meeting, that the period has arrived when the best interests of Maine will be promoted by a separation from Massachusetts proper, and that we will individually use all fair and honorable means to effect these objects."
The opponents were not less active than the advocates of separation. They also held great meetings at which the objections to the change proposed were rehearsed: the expense of the new government; the advantages of connection with the old Commonwealth; and many others. They called attention to the attempts that were made to secure a large vote for separation in Kennebec County by the assurance that
Augusta would be the capital of the State, and in Cumberland County by a similar expectation that Portland would be the seat of government. They brought forward one really solid and serious objection based upon the then existing coasting law of the United States. It was first suggested at an antiseparation gathering at Warren, a coast town in Lincoln County. Attention was called to the fact that so long as Maine was a part of Massachusetts a Maine coasting vessel could trade between the two parts of the State with a coasting license. But if Maine were an independent State, it would be necessary under the law for such a vessel to enter and clear at the custom house on every trip, and to pay a fee for so doing. The explanation is that under the coasting law passed by the first Congress1a coasting vessel might trade, without entering and clearing, between any two ports in the same State, or with a port in the next adjoining State. This gave Maine coasting vessels the privilege of trading as far as Rhode Island with a coasting license. But if Maine were an independent State, its vessels could not go beyond the next adjoining State of New Hampshire without entering and clearing at the custom house.
To this argument the advocates of separation replied that Congress would surely redress such a grievance, and they pointed to the fact that relief had been granted in one case. Congress had passed a law permitting coasting vessels to trade between Rhode Island and Long Island, across the sound." Undoubtedly the law which would diminish the rights of coasting vessels caused a loss of many hundred votes in the maritime counties, when the second vote was taken in September. For the coasting trade formed one of the largest interests in those counties. But the significance of the law was not fully understood at the time of the vote in May. Before separation was actually effected Congress passed a new coasting law 3 creating two great coasting districts divided by the mouth of the Perdido River, which separates Alabama from Florida. The coasting privilege was extended to all vessels to trade under a license between any two ports within each great district, without entering and clearing at the custom house. In striking contrast with the turmoil in Maine was the in
1 Chapter XI, sec. 25. Approved September 1, 1789.
2 By a law of March 2, 1795.
15th Cong. 2d Sess., Chap. XLVIII, approved March 2, 1819.
difference manifested in Massachusetts proper. At least we may infer indifference from the absence of editorial comment on the question from the Boston newspapers, and from the fact that no reference was made in their news columns to the progress of the movement in the District. The only paragraph on the subject between the time of the passage of the resolve and the vote in Maine, so far as I can discover, was in the "Advertiser" of May 17. "To us in this part of the State," remarked Mr. Hale, "the question is of comparatively trifling importance. It could not, therefore, be expected that we should be very strenuous advocates or opponents of separation." But he thought that on the whole the best interests of both would be served by their remaining one State.
The indifference of the Boston papers, particularly those of its own political persuasion, moved the "Argus" to wrath. In the issue for May 7, 1816, it remarked that the Boston Republican newspapers were zealous enough in advocating separation" whenever they expect to effect some party purpose. But when the people of Maine engage in good earnest in establishing their independence, then, indeed, are we abandoned by our Boston Republicans-we no longer have their aid. . . . Their illiberal and selfish policy has been fully evinced during the present discussion of separation. The Patriot,' the Chronicle,' and the Yankee' have pursued the most studious silence have cautiously avoided saying anything that would give us the least aid. In fact the Centinel' has been the only paper in Boston that has treated the subject with any degree of candor or fairness.1 If our Republican brethren in Boston are opposed to separation, let them come out openly. If they are in favor, let them advocate it manfully-anything, however, but this shuffling, double-dealing policy."
We get from this extract not a little light on the real sentiments of the politicians of Massachusetts proper. So long as the District was a part of the State there was not a little political capital to be made by the Republicans — or
1 The "Centinel" did not relish commendation by the " Argus," for it referred thus to the matter: "The praises of the Thing in Portland have ever received our contempt, its abuse is intitled to our acknowledgements" (May 18). The "Argus " the following week took back its compliment and tendered to the editor of the "Centinel "" the homage of our indignation and contempt."
Democrats in standing by their fellow partisans in Maine. But if there were any real chance for the success of the separationists, the result of that success would be to put them in a hopeless minority in State affairs.
Under the unamended Constitution of Massachusetts the election of governor and senators was held on "the first Monday of April," but representatives were chosen on various days "in the month of May, ten days at least before the last Wednesday of the month." At both elections .all political issues were disregarded and the question of separation only was considered. A large majority of the senators and representatives chosen in the District were in favor of separation. On the 20th of May 17,075 votes were given on the important question, — 10,584 in favor, 6,491 opposed. The whole number of legal voters in the District was 37,938. Less than one-half of them, therefore, went to the polls, a strange circumstance, considering the eager and even imperative character of the canvass that preceded the election. A possible explanation may be found in the fact that the advocates of separation declared - although urging every man to vote that those who did not vote should properly be reckoned as favoring the change, and that the opponents maintained that those who refrained from voting should be counted as opposed to it.
The General Court met on the 29th of May. The Senate consisted of 22 Federalists and 18 Democrats. The House had about 350 Federalists and 300 Democrats. Governor Brooks delivered his address on the 5th of June, but made no mention of the project of a division of the Commonwealth. On the next day, the 6th, the subject was brought before the House, and a committee was elected by ballot to take the matter into consideration. The committee chosen consisted of Messrs. Gorham of Boston, Fay of Cambridge, Saltonstall of Salem, Lawrence of Groton, Hubbard of Boston, and Howard of Newburyport. These gentlemen had 157 votes out of about 300. "Several tickets were voted for," said the "Chronicle," "but the above was supported by the advocates of separation from [sic] Maine." The Senate members of the committee were Messrs. Harrison Gray Otis of Suffolk, Dudley L. Pickman of Essex, Timothy Fuller of Middlesex, John Pickering of Essex, and Thomas
Weston of Plymouth. It will be seen that the committee consisted entirely of senators and representatives of Massachusetts proper.
The committee reported to the Senate, on June 13, a bill giving the consent of Massachusetts to the erection of the State, providing for the election of delegates to a convention to form a constitution, and prescribing the terms of separation. Mr. Otis accompanied the bill with a long written report, which Mr. John Holmes immediately characterized as one of the ablest state papers he had ever heard. Mr. Otis suggested, in his report, that the returns of the May vote implied indifference, and if that alone were considered the result would not justify any measures tending ever so remotely to exclude a great number from the government which seemed to suit them. But the committee is satisfied "that no conclusion uniformly applicable to the sentiments and motives of the citizens who absented themselves from the town meeting can be drawn from the mere fact of their absence." He gives the reasons for this opinion, and says that while the committee did not wish to encourage separation, on the contrary hoped that it would not take place, they "cannot resist the persuasion that some other means for ascertaining the deliberate sense of the people in that district have become expedient." To do otherwise would probably excite a spirit of discontent and a sense of injustice, and cause bitterness that ought not to be aroused. On the other hand, a readiness manifested by Massachusetts to remove all obstacles to a fair result must be accepted as a pledge of her magnanimity and candor.
Under the bill reported by the committee the people of Maine were to elect delegates to a convention which was to meet in Brunswick on the 26th of August. If a majority of the delegates should be in favor of separation, that fact was to be taken as proof that the people wished to dissolve their connection with Massachusetts, and the convention was to proceed to form a constitution. The conditions imposed by Massachusetts concerned a great variety of matters, -the ownership of public property, the State debt, the relations of the two States to Bowdoin College, the division of the public lands in the District, and the question of the taxation of that part of the lands which would be owned