June 30, 1818: As a result of successful negotiations with the British in 1817, the United States regains control of Eastport, which the British had occupied since seizing it – and the rest of eastern Maine – during the War of 1812.

The Americans relinquish claims to islands east of Eastport that now are part of the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

The British occupied Eastport and the rest of Moose Island for four years. During that time, both the British and American governments seemed to disown the area in terms of recognizing its residents as full citizens.

Maine was part of Massachusetts during the war and remained so until 1820. The Massachusetts government levied state taxes in Eastport, as it did everywhere else, and sued to collect them; but its legislature refused to seat a senator elected from there, calling it a conquered district.

Peace with England reduced the tension somewhat, but the 1814 Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war, left the issue of which country owned Moose Island and outlying areas in the hands of peace commissioners. It took three years for the commissioners to determine that Moose Island belonged to the United States, and another six months to bring British martial law there to an end.

On June 30, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. James Miller and Army Col. Henry Sargeant, representing President James Monroe and Massachusetts Gov. John Brooks, respectively, meet with Capt. R. Gibbon, the British commandant, to exchange flags and accept the territory’s formal restoration.

Presented by:

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at islandportpress.com. To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: jowen@mainetoday.com.

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