Aug. 29, 1786: Protesters in Northampton, Massachusetts, angry about tax collections and property confiscations by the government, prevent the court there from holding a session. The protest grows into what becomes known as Shays’ Rebellion, named for Daniel Shays, a Revolutionary War veteran who participated in it.

Proclamation by the State of Pennsylvania offering reward for Daniel Shays and 3 other rebellion ringleaders. Signed by Benjamin Franklin Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

That and other protest actions severely dampen enthusiasm in Maine for a proposal to separate from Massachusetts.

The three delegates from Falmouth (now Portland) to a September convention on separation are instructed, according to the Falmouth Gazette, “not only to oppose every measure that might be taken to establish a new Government, but also to discount all attempts for obtaining redress of any grievances that we might labor under.” The instructions say Maine’s separation movement would further inflame the chaos caused by the armed rebellion in western Massachusetts.

Shays’ Rebellion is one of many developments that delayed Maine statehood until 1820.

Aug. 29, 1902: The Bangor House, an imposing landmark on Bangor’s Main Street, has dodged calamity more than once in its 143 years in business.

It survived Bangor’s Great Fire of 1911, standing just south of the zone of destruction. It also escaped the wrecking ball when a great – some say misguided – wave of urban redevelopment swept the city in the 1960s.

On this day in 1902, its staff quashes an uninvited confrontation, if a newspaper account is to be believed, with a patron possessing an acid tongue and a hatchet.

Carrie Nation (1846-1911), a militant prohibitionist who is nationally famous for violently chopping up saloons with her hatchet, has come to call.

And she’s not happy.

After a trip to Ellsworth to deliver a temperance speech, she returns through Bangor, boards a carriage at the train station, directs the driver to the Bangor House and asks him whether he knows any place where liquor is available, according to a Bangor Daily News story.

Yes, the driver tells her, there are many such places, including the hotel where she is headed.

It’s worth mentioning that in Maine at the time, prohibition had been nominally in effect since the 1850s.

Nation prowls the hotel lobby, looking for the bar. She baits the hotel barber, asking him where she can get a drink. He offers her bay rum – an after-shave lotion – as a joke.

“What Mrs. Nation said to the barber,” the News reports the next day, “would not look well in type, and it made him shrink two sizes.”

A manager guides her to the dining room, where she summons a waiter and demands a beer. Told that wasn’t possible, she repeats the demand loudly, drawing co-proprietor Capt. H.C. Chapman’s attention. He gently but doggedly tells her to leave, gets her to collect her belongings and escorts her to the street, where police officers are waiting to take her to City Hall.

That evening, at a speaking engagement in the city, Nation unleashes a torrent of invective about the Bangor House, then presents “a rambling talk, incoherent and disjointed,” the News says, about her saloon-smashing adventures and occasional imprisonment in Kansas. She lambastes Republicans and tobacco, noting that she often snatches cigarettes out of the mouths of men. She sells photos of herself and tiny souvenir hatchets to the crowd. She announces she will sue the Bangor House. Told that no hotel will take her in after her escapade that day, she accepts an invitation to stay at the home of a member of the audience.

On the following day, the News says, Nation plans to “make a tour of the city and, possibly, attempt to smash saloons.”

More than a century later, one looks back and wonders whether the News reporter’s disdain for this easy target reflects a clandestine fancy for liquor, a dislike of hatchet jobs other than his own, or the realization that he has less to gain from portraying Nation favorably than he does from burnishing the hotel management’s image.

After all, he probably will need to deal with those folks again someday.

Sen. Edmund Muskie and his wife, Jane Muskie, wave to the crowd with Murial Humphrey and Vice President Hubert Humphrey at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago following the two men’s nomination for vice president and president, respectively. Associated Press

Aug. 29, 1968: U.S. Sen. Edmund S. Muskie, D-Maine, delivers a speech accepting his nomination for vice president at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, an event marred by anti-war protesters rioting in the streets and a bloody police crackdown.

Muskie and the presidential nominee, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, later lose the November election to Republicans Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. The Democratic ticket is burdened largely by the controversial Vietnam War legacy of President Lyndon Johnson.

Speaking to the convention attendees, Muskie, mindful of the chaos unfolding in Chicago’s streets, speaks mostly about the conflict between freedom and responsibility.

“The practice of freedom has made possible tremendous advances in the lives of our people,” he said. “Ironically, these very advances have highlighted our shortcomings, which have denied hope for improvement to too many Americans; which have concealed the reality of hunger, poverty and deprivation for many under an illusion of prosperity and equality for all.”

Muskie is the third full-time Maine resident to become a major-party vice presidential nominee. The first was Hannibal Hamlin, of Hampden, who became the first Republican vice president when elected in 1860 as Abraham Lincoln’s running mate. The second was Democrat Arthur Sewall, of Bath, who ran unsuccessfully with William Jennings Bryan in 1896.

Maine also had one full-time resident who became a major-party presidential nominee – James G. Blaine, whom the Republicans nominated in 1884. He lost to New York Gov. Grover Cleveland.

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: [email protected]

 

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