Maine and the American Revolution

The residents of Maine, farmers and shipping interests alike, were adversely affected by new British policies following the victory over the French. Reaction to the hated Stamp Act was not confined to Massachusetts and New York; the residents of Falmouth (later Portland, Maine) rioted and attacked customs agents attempting to implement use of the stamps.

Later, the Tea Act turned out to be as unpopular in Maine as it was in Boston. Residents of York staged an imitation of the Boston Tea Party by burning a tea-laden ship in their harbor in 1774.

Following Lexington and Concord, hostilities commenced in Maine. In 1775, British ships shelled Falmouth, causing massive destruction. The first real naval encounter occurred off Machias in June 1775 and ended with Maine forces capturing the British cutter Margaretta. In addition, a large number of Maine men accompanied Benedict Arnold on his ill-fated march to Quebec in the Canadian campaign.

One of the most disastrous naval engagements of the war occurred at Castine, a small coastal village in the eastern portion of Penobscot Bay. The British had taken the village in 1779 and erected Fort George. In what has been called the Penobscot Campaign, naval forces from Massachusetts sailed into the Bay to oust the British, but failed to capitalize on their temporary superiority. British relief ships soon arrived, forcing the American fleet to flee. In order to keep these ships out of British hands, the Americans set them afire.


See timeline of the American Revolution.