Aug. 14, 1777: Landing in Machias under cover of fog, British Royal Marines seize an American battery during the Revolutionary War. Revolutionary forces, aided by Penobscot, Passamaquoddy and Maliseet Indians, repel the attackers.

Aug. 14, 1779: With the remaining ships of the destroyed Penobscot Expedition armada burning off the coast or fleeing, residents of Belfast hide their valuables and evacuate the town as British forces approach from the east.

The refugees arrive at a defensive timber breastwork at Clam Cove, between Rockland and Camden, the next day. When they return to Belfast the following year, they find almost everything in ruins.

At left stands Rear Adm. David G. Farragut, commanding the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, on the quarter deck of the squadron flagship USS Hartford around 1864. Image courtesy of the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command

Portrait of Admiral David G. Farragut taken around 1860-65.  Matthew Brady photo courtesy of the National Archives

Aug. 14, 1870: Adm. David Farragut, 69, the Civil War officer to whom the command “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” is attributed, dies in Kittery while on vacation.

Farragut was in command of Union forces during the Battle of Mobile Bay. Commodore Foxhall A. Parker, in his 1878 book about the battle, claims that when Farragut was told the bay was seeded with tethered mines, or “torpedoes,” he actually said, “Damn the torpedoes! Jouett, full speed! Four bells, Captain Drayton.” Loyall Farragut’s 1879 biography of his father, however, says the elder Farragut exclaimed “Damn the torpedoes. Four bells, Captain Drayton, go ahead. Jouett, full speed.”

In any event, most of the fleet succeeded in entering the bay, closing off the last major Confederate port on the Gulf of Mexico.

Aug. 14, 1935: President Franklin Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, a landmark piece of legislation drafted by U.S. Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, a Boston native who spent much of her time at the family homestead in Newcastle, Maine.

Perkins also did much of the groundwork for other important New Deal programs, including workman’s compensation and the 40-hour workweek.

Frances Perkins stands behind President Franklin Roosevelt as he signs the Social Security Act in 1935.  Image courtesy of the National Park Service

Perkins is buried in the family plot at the Glidden Cemetery in Newcastle.

The nonprofit Frances Perkins Center in Damariscotta educates the public about Perkins’ life and legacy. On Jan. 3, 2020, the organization bought the Perkins family homestead, a national historic landmark, to operate as a public educational resource.

Aug. 14, 1947: A front-page story in the Camden Herald newspaper announces an event called the Camden-Rockport Lobster Festival, under the headline “All the lobster you can eat for $1.”

The festival loses so much money it is never held again. The next year, however, the Rockland Junior Chamber of Commerce revives the idea, and the result is the Maine Lobster Festival, held annually for five days around the first weekend in August. It is one of Maine’s premier summer events.

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 To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]


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