Mac Smith of Stockton Springs, author of “Siege of the Statehouse: The Coup that Nearly Plunged Maine into Civil War,” will speak July 20 during the Kennebec Historical Society’s July presentation. Submitted photo

The Kennebec Historical Society’s July presentation, “Siege at the State House: The 1879 Coup that Nearly Plunged Maine into Civil War,” is scheduled to be presented by historian Mac Smith at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 20, at the Maine State Library’s temporary location, 242 State St. in Augusta.

This is the former location of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Submitted photo

“Siege at the State House” tells the true story of a coup that was attempted by Maine’s governor and the leaders of a new political party, almost plunging the United States into its second Civil War. With the Maine State House surrounded for several weeks by an armed mob, the occupation of that building culminated in a showdown between the mob and Civil War hero Gen. Joshua Chamberlain, with Chamberlain standing on the State House steps, exposing his chest, and challenging any man present to settle the standoff with violence, if they dared.

Chamberlain called the event “another Round Top,” a reference to his crucial role in the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, according to a news release from the society.

In light of recent national events, this piece of Maine history is a timely and cautionary tale brought to life by Smith. Elements of the story include a Christmas Day raid on Maine’s weapons arsenal, missing election results, and seven jackasses.

A Navy veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War and a former reporter for The Bar Harbor Times, Smith lives in Stockton Springs. He is also the author of “Mainers on the Titanic” and “Peyton Place Comes Home to Maine”

The society’s July presentation is free to the public; donations will be accepted. Those with questions about the program can call Scott Wood, executive director, at 207-622-7718.

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