Alexander/Crawford History news

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Town News

By John Dudley 

& Cassie Oakes

 

TOWN MEETING

On March 15, 1820 Maine became a state.  Our constitution was much like the Massachusetts constitution but the Maine constitution granted more representation to those living in plantations and did away with property ownership as a prerequisite for voting.  Also, the Executive Branch did not have a Lieutenant Governor, but had a Governor and an executive council of seven.  The constitution was amended and the council was done away with in the 1970s.

Our capital was in Portland, but we had no capitol building.  Our Governor was elected by the people for a one-year term.  The first was William King.  Our member of the Maine House of Representatives and Maine Senate were elected by written ballot at meetings called by selectmen. The man who was elected to represent this district was Thomas Vose of Robbinston. Our first Maine State Senator was Jeremiah O’Brien (1778-1858) of Machias.  His home still stands in Machias on O’Brien Avenue (on the UMM campus).

Maine had 146 legislatures, Ben Ames of Bath was the first Speaker of the House, and 20 senators had three Presidents during the first year, John Chandler (Monmouth), William Moody (Saco) and William D. Williamson (Bangor).  Maine’s population was 297,839 of whom 12,746 called Washington County home.  

Town Meetings predate our nationhood.  New England town meetings in colonial times required attendance by every male of age.  These meetings were so important that in 1774, in one of their Intolerable Acts, the British forbade town meetings to prevent the spread of ideas about democracy.  

The state required each township to raise money for education, 40 cents per inhabitant.  Alexander had two schools as early as 1822, one on Barn Hill and one on the Airline of which both were log buildings with no glass windows and no window screens.  There were two buildings, two teachers, Mr. Prince and Mr. Barstow, and thirty-seven children.  That school budget was $45.60!  

On January 19, 1825 Alexander became an incorporated town that had been first known as Township #16 Eastern Division of Bingham’s Penobscot Purchase (#16 ED BPP). In 1820 our legislature in Portland had granted all townships with people the right and responsibility to hold elections.  We were a plantation after this 1820 law.  In 1821 we and all the other plantations’ residents were granted the right and responsibility to collect taxes for the state.  We still collect taxes for our country.

Who will you vote for at Town Meeting on Monday, March 27, 2018?

During the winter of 2019 yours truly will have a series of articles on Maine statehood and about things that happened in our area in 1825. Stay tuned.