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of them were in favor of so doing, but that policy was abandoned. It is well known, and was asserted at the time without contradiction, that many of the separationists voted for the report, not because they accepted its remarkable arithmetic, but in the hope that the General Court, in consideration of the fact that a considerable majority had voted for separation, would instruct the convention to reassemble and proceed with its work.
The report as it was originally drawn and adopted was much more aggressive than in its final form. The convention at first voted that if the legislature soon to be in session should, " as they undoubtedly will, confirm this construction” of the five to four clause, “much dispute would be prevented”; but if, "contrary to all reasonable expectation, the decision should be unfavorable, we could, at an adjourned session, determine for ourselves, and carry the act into full effect agreeably to our own understanding of its provisions." All the foregoing was struck out of the report after a reconsideration of its adoption had been carried on motion of Mr. Holmes. Another passage, which was also struck out, was as follows: “But should Massachusetts give an unfavorable interpretation of the act, or refuse to modify it as justice requires, Congress would decide whether we have not complied with the conditions upon which the consent of Massachusetts was obtained.”
The separationists and their opponents each adopted a memorial to the legislature in which they argued their respective cases, and the convention adjourned, never to meet again.
The attempt to override and disregard the condition imposed by the General Court seems to have caused a revulsion of feeling in old Massachusetts. The people in that part of the State, as we have seen, had previously been conciliatory, had acceded to the frequent requests to test publio sentiment in the District, and had refrained from all acts and words that would influence the result. But this performance of the separationists was too much for them. The "Worcester Spy” I said, contemptuously, that Mr. Holmes's plea was “a mode of calculation which in a schoolboy would merit a flogging." The “Centinel” 2 indignantly exclaimed, “ Maine shall not be independent.” The “ Daily Advertiser ”3 said: “We have heard the report repeatedly spoken of by gentlemen of both 1 October 16, 1816.
2 October 19.
8 October 17.
political parties, and by those who wish the separation to take place as well as by those opposed to it, and they uniformly regard it as one of the most contemptibly absurd documents that ever received the sanction of a public body of men.”
The interest in the matter is shown - and also the feeling of some people in the Massachusetts community at least, on the general question of the connection — by the appearance of communications in the newspapers. One of these communications, which appeared in the “ Advertiser” of October 19, over the signature of “Cato,” is so plain spoken that a considerable extract from it is given :
“ The truth is that the question of the separation of the District of Maine, though in terms acknowledged to be important, has not excited much interest in this part of the Commonwealth. It actually occasioned less discussion in the Legislature than a petty dispute about moving a half-toll turnpike gate. The District has been considered as a sort of nursling, whose support cost more than its services were worth. The peculiar situation of that country has been such as to give us a great deal of trouble, and to compel us in some instances to make general laws such as would never have been thought expedient or just had we legislated only for Massachusetts proper. It has been apprehended that there would be such an increase of the population of the District as that the question would be, according to the current phrase, not whether we should set off them, but whether they would set off us -- and that possibly the seat of government might be removed to some place in the District. The Federalists bave feared also for the ascendancy of their party, and that such a dead weight around our necks would soon drag us down to democracy. The citizens of this Commonwealth generally have felt a sort of pique occasioned by the clamor for separation in the District, and have said, “if these people think they are oppressed, and are so anxious to get away from us, we can do very well without them, let them take their own course, run and be glorified.""
The writer then goes on in a calm and reasonable tone to argue that so great a change ought not to be made unless there was a strong majority in favor of it, that the terms were proposed at the instance of the separationists themselves, and that justice to the minority required that, as the terms had not been met, the change should not be made.
Another correspondent, in the issue of October 23, maintained that Massachusetts, by reason of the diverse sentiments of the people of the State proper and the District, had been deprived of its proper political weight, and he attributed the loss to the influence of the delegates from Maine; "and that while Massachusetts exercised but a feeble, ineffectual moral and political authority over Maine, the latter was constantly weakening the respect for the government of Massachusetts, and gradually impairing the force and influence of the laws by withdrawing from them their only real support in a free country, public opinion; ... that the unprincipled majority in Maine, effecting a junction with their natural allies in Massachusetts proper, will finally endanger, if not overthrow, the literary, religious, and political institutions of the state." 1 This correspondent thought separation was inevitable, and he favored letting Maine go anyway, disregarding the actual state of the votes on the question and “the insolent, unjust, and ridiculous ground assumed by the convention at Brunswick. . . . Physically we still retain the people of Maine in a sort of subordination not much worse than that in which they have heretofore been held. For it is well known that for ten years past the laws have been regularly and unremittedly resisted in some of the barbarous parts of that semi-civilized District.”
All this was uncomplimentary enough to the people of the District. It is language that may usually be applied to the half-lawless condition of pioneer communities remote from the authority of courts. But it does give an explanation of the attitude toward separation of a considerable body of men in Boston. Nor is it difficult to detect in both of the communications cited a flavor of party politics - an apprehension on the part of Federalists that if Maine continued to be a part of the Commonwealth the power would soon pass to the Democrats.
It is rather remarkable that neither the Boston “Chronicle” nor the “ Patriot” made any comment whatever upon the doings of the Brunswick convention for more than a month after its adjournment. The only reference to the affair was printed in the “ Patriot” of November 16. That Democratic paper, speaking a good word for Holmes, said : “ The writer of these remarks entirely differs from the framers of that report in the interpretation of the law of June last.”
1 The remark last quoted explains the solicitude with which the General Court provided that in the constitution which was to be formed for Maine the charter of Bowdoin College was not to be amended without the consent of the legislatures of both States.
The General Court met on November 13. Governor Brooks, in his speech, referred to the subject of separation in a conciliatory tone. The two peoples were of the same origin, educated in the same principles, had fought side by side. May no root of bitterness spring up to alienate their affections, whether united or separate. Judging from the ingenuous and dispassionate manner in which the subject has been hitherto discussed in your respective houses, we may confidently hope that wisdom will mark its future progress." The committee of the Brunswick convention deputed to bring the matter to the attention of the legislature, consisting of Albion K. Parris, John Davis, W. P. Preble, and John Chandler, called upon Governor Brooks to express their thanks to him for the delicate and courteous tone of his speech. Moreover, in their memorial to the legislature they said, with reference to the movement for separation, “it has often been the subject of the deliberations of the legislature, and we owe it to the people of Massachusetts thus publicly to acknowledge that it bas always received prompt attention, and that the course adopted with respect to it has been uniformly liberal and magnanimous.” The foregoing account of the proceedings, covering a period of more than thirty years, shows that this acknowledgment was just and true. Yet Mr. Blaine, speaking in the Senate of the United States on January 22, 1878, when presenting to the government the statue of William King said that the movement had been resisted in Massachusetts, always with firmness, often with offensive arrogance.” It is a pity that Senators Dawes and Hoar were not provided with the facts that would have corrected this perversion of history.
The memorial from the Brunswick convention and a great number of remonstrances against separation were referred to the same committee that reported the bill at the June session. The committee took an unusually long time to consider the matter and did not report until December 3. As before, Mr. Otis made the report. The committee had “no hesitation" in rejecting the construction of the act by the convention. It argued in temperate language that the question ought not to be revived by that General Court. There seemed to be no evidence that the tide in favor of separation had been greatly if at all augmented, and in any event no time would be lost, as Congress would not be in session long enough to act upon the question of admitting the State. The committee reported two resolutions : "that the contingency upon which the consent of Massachusetts was to be given for the separation of Maine has not yet happened, and that the powers of the Brunswick convention to take any measures tending to that event have ceased”; and " that it is not expedient for the present General Court to adopt any further measures in regard to the separation of the District of Maine." The report was accepted by the Senate, , and the resolutions were adopted, on the next day, December 4, without debate; and the House concurred unanimously on the same day.
That was the end of the movement in 1816. A few days later, December 11, the “Daily Advertiser” remarked that “the manner in which the question of separation was settled by the legislature seems to meet with general approbation. Indeed it was hardly opposed by the most strenuous separationists in the legislature, of whom a considerable number were members of the Brunswick convention."
No mention of the subject of separation occurs in the legislative journals for 1817-1818 or 1818-1819, save that a committee was appointed in 1817 to inquire into the expediency of paying the expenses of the Brunswick convention. The committee reported that it was inexpedient to take any action thereon, and the report was accepted. Nor for nearly two years was there any renewal of the agitation in Maine.
In the spring of 1819 the movement was started again and quickly acquired great momentum. A committee of the Maine members of the legislature issued an address, April 19, to the people of the District, urging them, in the selection of representatives, to choose none but supporters of separation. They also urged that the towns petition for separation in their corporate capacity. At the annual elections party differences were extinguished, and the sole issue was separation. Every senator elected from the District was in favor of separation, and of 127 representatives chosen