April 24, 1816: Four hundred to 500 people show up at the courthouse in Augusta in response to an invitation to attend a convention, moderated by Judge Daniel Cony (1752-1842), an Augusta physician and Revolutionary War veteran, about a proposal to separate Maine from Massachusetts.

The crowd, composed of residents of Kennebec, Lincoln and Somerset counties, is so large that the meeting location is changed to the town house, then to the Congregational Church meeting house, to accommodate the attendees.

The convention appoints a committee of 26 members to draft a report and recommendations for the entire convention to consider. The panel, with some members dissenting, propose Maine’s separation from Massachusetts for reasons that have been cited often in recent years.

The Augusta convention on separation precedes a May 20 vote throughout Maine on the issue. It will be the latest of several, and not the last.

Cony’s convention effort comes a few months after trustees of a girls’ school accept a gift of a building he arranged to have built near his home on Augusta’s east side. The new school, the Cony Female Academy, is the predecessor of today’s Cony High School.

Separation and Maine statehood finally arrive in 1820. Unlike many of the people who began agitating in 1785 for that result, Cony lives to see it happen.

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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