As the 200th anniversary of Maine’s becoming a state approaches, I attended an event at the historic First Parish Church in Portland pertaining to the constitutional convention held there in the fall of 1819.

Planned and moderated by Herb Adams, a former state representative, well-known historian and current adjunct professor of social sciences at Southern Maine Community College, the event featured a distinguished panel of scholars – attorney Mary Bonauto, who argued the successful 2015 same-sex equality case before the U.S. Supreme Court; Anne Gass, author of “Voting Down the Rose,” a study of how Maine women gained the vote in 1919; Donald Soctomah of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, a noted historian, and attorney Marshall Tinkle, author of the book “The Maine State Constitution.”

Among other things, I learned that the Maine Constitution is considered to be superior in some respects to the U.S. Constitution, inasmuch as it delineates more individual citizen rights than that document does. Unfortunately, though, attendance at the event was poor. The main reason for that, Mr. Adams later told me, was that not only had the Press Herald not covered the event, but it was not even in their events announcements section.

Let’s hope that next year’s bicentennial celebration gets the attention it deserves, as the circumstances of Maine’s becoming a state, and the remarkable document that went with that event, are subjects all Mainers should know about and be proud of.

Cliff Gallant


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