'Maine during the Civil War' kicks off series
Camden — Lee Webb will kick off the “Maine and the Civil War” events at the Camden Public Library on Thursday evening, July 31, at 7 p.m. Webb’s lecture on “Maine During the Civil War” will cover Maine’s economy and sharply divided politics.
In the decades prior to the Civil War, Maine’s coast had one of the most vibrant economies in the nation. Shipbuilding towns such as Waldoboro, Wiscasset and Bath, fishing towns such as Castine and Machias, and ocean-borne shipping towns such as Belfast and Searsport are at the heart of the story. Maine played many important roles on the national stage and on the front lines of the Civil War, but did you know that Maine was sharply divided on the need to go to war in 1861? The coastal towns that benefited from shipbuilding and shipping had deep reservations about the war. In fact, Jefferson Davis was invited to speak at the Fourth of July celebration in Thomaston in 1859, according to historian Lee Webb.
Webb, of Union, is a Senior Policy Fellow at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine, where he is working on a PhD in Maine history. His talk is adapted from part of his thesis, which is tentatively titled “Pine Tree Politics: Maine in the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era.” Webb has more than 30 years of experience in public policy analysis, state government, as well as hospital and university administration. In the 1970s, he founded and was President of the Center for Policy Alternatives in Washington, a national public policy research center on state and local government policy.
Other events in the Camden library’s Civil War series will include lecturers, an actor, movies, re-enactors from the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment Company B, and a travelling exhibit, created by the ALA and NEH, “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” on display from July 29 to Sept. 4.
Events will include a screening of the movie "Glory" in the Amphitheatre on Monday evening, Aug. 4, at 8:15 p.m.; actor Stephen Collins in the persona of Walt Whitman on Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 7 p.m.; Dave Cheever, Maine State Archivist, will present “One Month: How Maine Prepared for Civil War” on Tuesday evening, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m.; Erin Bishop, former Education Director of the Lincoln Library and Museum in Illinois will speak on “Lincoln: Evolution of a President” on Thursday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m.; and author Jerry Desmond will present his new book, recently published by Down East Books, “Turning the Tide at Gettysburg: How Maine Saved the Union.”
Desmond’s talk will be very timely, as the re-enactors of the 20th Maine Regiment Company B will be on bivouac in Camden’s Harbor Park for the weekend of Aug. 22 through 24. The company will be living in period uniforms and equipment, and will host a day-long program of mini-lectures, displays, military drill and firing drill on Saturday, Aug. 23.
Continuing the month-long celebration, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 7 p.m., Earle Shettleworth, Maine State Historian, will present a pictorial history of the Civil War; and Thursday, Aug. 28, 7 p.m., Dr. Richard Kahn will present “The Medicine of the Civil War,” along with a display of his collection of historical medical paraphernalia. The library will also host a display of period dresses and attire throughout the library, with children’s clothes, dolls, and a Mary Todd Lincoln dress created by Diana Thompson.
The annual Summer Reading Program for Adults at the Camden library will also feature a Civil War theme this year. In the adult Reading Program, just as in the kids’ reading program, readers get the chance to post a response to each book read, and also work toward earning Book Bucks. Each book read earns one credit toward Book Bucks, and each Civil War book earns two credits. Readers are invited to start any time; book prizes, including gift certificates to Sherman’s Books and the Owl and Turtle Books will be awarded at the grand finale Aug. 28. Visit the library for more details and a suggested reading list.