Enoch Lincoln, portrait by an unknown artist, 1825 Courtesy of the Maine State Museum (catalog No. 72.19.85)

Feb. 24, 1827: Maine Gov. Enoch Lincoln signs a bill determining that beginning Jan. 1, 1832, “the permanent seat of government shall be established at Augusta.” The bill makes Augusta the state’s capital city, replacing Portland, which became the capital when Maine achieved statehood in 1820.

The bill, the latest of several on the subject, passed 81-38 in the Maine House of Representatives and 11-7 in the Maine Senate.

Feb. 24, 1838: First-term U.S. Rep. Jonathan Cilley (1802-1838), a Democrat from Thomaston, dies in Bladensburg, Maryland, at the age of 35, having been wounded fatally by a rifle shot in a duel with U.S. Rep. William Graves, a Whig from Kentucky.

William. J. Graves of Kentucky, 1840 (left) and Jonathan Cilley of Maine (right), Currier & Ives, 1838 Images courtesy of the Library of Congress

Graves challenged Cilley to the duel, asserting that Cilley had insulted his honor by refusing to accept from him a letter containing a Whig newspaper editor’s challenge to another duel. That initial challenge was a result of Cilley’s public claim that the editor had changed his mind to favor rechartering the Second Bank of the United States because the bank had granted him loans totaling $52,000.

Cilley graduated in 1825 from Bowdoin College in Brunswick in the same class that included writers Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Horatio Bridge.

In 1839, reacting to Cilley’s death, Congress passes a law strengthening a Washington, D.C., ban on dueling by making it a crime to issue or accept a challenge to a duel even if the duel itself is scheduled to take place outside the District of Columbia.

Feb. 24, 1989: Gov. John McKernan and U.S. Rep. Olympia Snowe marry at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity in Lewiston. They become the nation’s first case of a married couple holding both a governorship and a seat in Congress.

Gov. John “Jock” McKernan and Rep. Olympia Snowe outside the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church after being married in Lewiston on Feb. 24, 1989. Associated Press/Pat Wellenbach

McKernan and Snowe, both Republicans, served together in the Maine House of Representatives, and together from 1983 to 1987 in the U.S. House, where he represented Maine’s 1st District and she held the 2nd District seat. McKernan’s tenure as governor lasts two terms, from 1987 to 1995, during which Snowe is elected in 1994 to the first of her three six-year U.S. Senate terms.

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. He can be contacted at: [email protected]


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