June 18, 1794: Twenty-five delegates representing 17 Maine towns gather in Portland to discuss yet again the prospect of the District of Maine’s separation from Massachusetts, a proposal first raised in 1785.

The delegates’ report, 300 copies of which are sent to towns in the district, concludes that by becoming independent of Massachusetts, Maine could achieve an annual tax savings of 1,550 pounds – expressed that way even though Congress established the U.S. dollar as the national unit of currency in 1792. The delegates adjourn until Oct. 14.

Battle between the USS Constitution and HMS Cyane and HMS Levant off Spain that took place three days after the War of 1812 ended. Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy

June 18, 1812: Congress, citing continued British harassment of American shipping, declares war on the United Kingdom.

New England states refuse to contribute militias or money to the war effort. They also continue trading with the British, and they come to regard Washington as a greater threat to their security and prosperity than London. In response, the federal government withdraws its troops from New England.

The War of 1812, which actually lasts until early 1815, results in an eight-month British occupation of all of Maine east of the Penobscot River, in the form of the short-lived crown colony of New Ireland.

The failure of the federal and Massachusetts governments to expel the British from that territory provides a fresh impetus to the decades-old movement to separate Maine from Massachusetts, a dream that finally is fulfilled in 1820.

General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine Infantry Image courtesy of the Maine State Archives

June 18, 1864: A ricocheting bullet penetrates the right thigh of Col. Joshua Chamberlain and tears through his body to his left hip while he is directing troops in an attack on a Confederate battery during the Second Battle of Petersburg. He is told his wound probably is fatal.

On the same day, the First Maine Heavy Artillery, recruited mostly from Maine’s Penobscot Valley, suffers 632 casualties among 900 men engaged in a hopeless attack on the defenses at Petersburg, about 25 miles south of the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia.

Chamberlain, whose troops helped turn the tide against the Confederacy in the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, now commands the First Brigade, First Division, Fifth Corps.

After being shot, he thrusts the point of his sword into the ground to steady himself, then stands rigidly upright in full view of his troops to keep them motivated while under relentless fire from Confederate infantry and cannons. Eventually he collapses from loss of blood.

Rescuers remove him from the battlefield as his men are being cut down and blown to bits all around him. Doctors at a field hospital three miles away remove the bullet and patch him up, but they have little hope for his recovery.

“My darling wife,” Chamberlain writes the next day to Fanny Chamberlain, who is home in Brunswick, Maine. “I am lying mortally wounded the doctors think, but my mind & heart are at peace. … God bless & keep & comfort you, precious one, you have been a precious wife to me.”

On June 20, Gen. Ulysses Grant, commander of the Union armies, gives Chamberlain a battlefield promotion to brigadier general. He is transferred the next day to the naval hospital at Annapolis, Maryland. Defying expectations, he begins to recover and is furloughed home to Brunswick on Sept. 20. On Nov. 18, he returns to duty at Petersburg.

Petersburg eventually falls to Union forces in April 1865 after a 10-month siege. Confederate general Robert E. Lee signs the Army of Northern Virginia’s surrender document April 9 at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. Chamberlain presides over the Confederates’ surrender of their arms there on April 12.

June 18, 1889: The Bangor Daily News begins publication after Bangor shipping magnate Thomas J. Stewart failed to convince another Bangor Daily, the Whig & Courier, to back his candidacy for a congressional seat. He establishes the Daily News as a way to promote his run for office. Stewart loses his political race, but his newspaper outlasts its two daily competitors in the Queen City.

Under new ownership, the News buys the Whig & Courier in 1900 and merges the two operations into one. The other Bangor daily, the Evening Commercial, continues operating until 1956, when diminishing circulation and a fire put it out of business.

The Bangor Daily News initially is modeled on the format of the New York Herald, even using the same type face. Its chief editor, George Miner, comes from the Herald; and the News is the first paper in New England to receive Herald reports by cable and publish them.

The News grows to become northern New England’s largest newspaper by the late 1940s. More than 130 years after its founding, the paper is still in business and is the only one of Maine’s six daily newspapers that remains independently owned.

Players on UMaine’s baseball team in 1964 included (left to right) Joe Ferris ’66, Dick DeVarney ’66 and Carl “Stump” Merrill ’66. Coach Jack Butterfield ’52 is on the far right. Maine Alumni Magazine via DigitalCommons at UMaine

June 18, 1964: University of Maine sophomore pitcher Joe Ferris, a Brewer native, wins the Most Outstanding Player Award at the end of the 1964 NCAA University Division Baseball Tournament’s College World Series, held in Omaha, Nebraska. The Black Bears place third in the series among eight teams.

UMaine also appears in the series in 1976, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1986.

As for Ferris, he becomes a lawyer who, after decades of practicing in Brewer and Bangor, still is engaged in that profession. He also still holds the UMaine season pitching record for winning percentage – 1.000 with nine straight victories, including two College World Series wins, in 1964; and the UMaine career record, .842, with a 16-3 win-loss tally over three seasons.

June 18, 2019: U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican who grew up in Caribou, casts her 7,000th consecutive Senate vote, never having missed a vote since she took office in 1997.

At the time, Collins has the third-longest skein of consecutive votes in Senate history, behind those of Sen. William Proxmire (1915-2005), a Wisconsin Democrat, with 10,252; and Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, of Iowa, who has not missed any votes since 1993.

She went to great lengths to keep the streak alive. Once a vote was scheduled unexpectedly when she had boarded a plane that was preparing to take off. She got off the plane immediately and went to the Senate chamber. Another time she broke an ankle while rushing to the chamber, but she voted anyway.

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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