Dec. 4, 1816: The Massachusetts General Court dissolves a Brunswick convention held to determine the results of a Sept. 2 referendum on whether Maine should separate from Massachusetts.

The decision is a blow to pro-separatists, who badly mismanaged their accounting of the referendum result.

Dec. 4, 1899: U.S. House Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed (1839-1902) of Portland resigns from Congress after 11 terms in the House.

Reed and President William McKinley initially opposed a war with Spain in 1898. When McKinley switches his position and favors the war, Reed, an ardent anti-imperialist serving in an age when the American empire is expanding, refuses to back his fellow Republican. He leaves office instead.

Thomas Brackett Reed photographed at the window of his house on Deering Street in Portland around 1900. Collections of Maine Historical Society, courtesy of, item #140

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 To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]

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