July 26, 1819: Maine residents vote overwhelmingly for separation from Massachusetts, 17,091 to 7,132, in contrast to the two much closer referendums held in 1816.

The pro-separation result is strongest in Kennebec County, where the “yes” tally exceeds 75 percent in all but six towns. A majority of voters in each other county opts for separation as well.

Before the vote, the anti-separation Federalists and allies of Bowdoin College tried unsuccessfully to convince voters that Maine is growing so fast that its population soon will eclipse that of the rest of Massachusetts, so Maine’s delegation to state government will be in a position to control that as well. Perhaps the capital could be moved from Boston to a point that is more centrally located, they said.

The argument fails. While other obstacles await the pro-separation side, they will be overcome. Less than eight months later, Maine becomes a state.

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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