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A period of conflict


Historic cannon in Maine
Historic cannon in Maine

After the French and Indian War, Great Britain increased taxes in the colonies to help defray the cost of the recent wars. In Maine, as elsewhere, the colonists’ response to the growing tensions with Britain was complex. Many people lived along the coast and were vulnerable to British attack. In addition, their livelihood often depended on trade with Britain, and they opposed an abrupt break with Britain. Their response ranged from cautious criticism to outright loyalty to the crown. But others, particularly those who lived farther inland and squatters who hoped war might allow them to own the land they occupied, willingly joined with Massachusetts patriots in 1765 in protesting the Stamp Act, a British measure to raise revenue that required tax stamps on various documents. Acts of resistance included burning tax collectors in effigy, signing petitions of protest against the stamp tax, and boycotting British goods. Later, in October 1775, the British navy burned Falmouth (now Portland) in response to that town’s acts of rebellion in refusing to supply the navy.

While Maine remained outside of the center of activity during the American Revolution, a few offensive actions did take place in the region. American military leader Benedict Arnold brought an expedition 193 km (120 mi) up the Kennebec River during his failed attempt to capture Québec from the British in 1775. In the same year, the people of Machias captured a British frigate, the Margaretta. However, Maine’s victories were few. When the British captured Castine in 1779, Massachusetts sent a fleet of 40 vessels and 1,000 men to retake the town. Although the American fleet outnumbered the British, the Americans suffered from indecisive leadership. While the Americans hesitated, more British ships arrived.

The American fleet fled up the Penobscot River where the crew burned the ships to prevent their capture by the British. This event, known as the Penobscot Expedition, was one of the most disastrous naval episodes of the war. The coast of Maine remained under British control for the remainder of the war and became a haven for colonists loyal to Great Britain. "Maine" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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