May 23, 1759: Province of Massachusetts Bay Gov. Thomas Pownall, accompanied by a British military detachment of 136 men, climbs a hill on the east side of the Penobscot River north of Brewer and affixes a leaden plate asserting Britain’s claim to the territory.

The British Empire – and its American subjects – at the time are in the midst of the French and Indian War (1754-1763). Pownall’s gesture is an effort to rebuff French claims to what is now eastern Maine. An unforeseen consequence of his claim is that at the close of the American Revolution, U.S. negotiators are able to secure British agreement that the St. Croix River, not the Penobscot, would form the eastern border between the United States and the new British colony of New Brunswick.

May 23, 2012: Shipyard worker Casey James Fury sets a fire aboard the nuclear-powered submarine USS Miami at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, injuring seven other workers and causing about $450 million in damage.

Smoke rises from a dry dock as fire crews respond to a fire on the USS Miami submarine (SSN 755) at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on May 23, 2012.

He pleads guilty the following year, is sentenced to 17 years in prison and is ordered to pay $400 million in restitution.

He tells the judge that he set the fire because he was having an anxiety attack and needed to go home.

The submarine is decommissioned in 2014.

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 Tune in as he’s interviewed by Bill Nemitz in our Maine Voices Live series Tuesday, May 26 at 7 p.m. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]

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