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Program 12: Land of Liberty

 

Maine's population exploded after the Revolutionary War. Looking for land to farm, veterans and settlers from southern New England poured into Maine's unsettled forests between the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers. Feeling they had earned the free lands promised to them by the colonial government in return for supporting the War, these settlers claimed and cleared frontier lands in Maine instead of the remote Ohio land set aside for them. At the same time, speculators like General Henry Knox, America’s first Secretary of War and Knox County’s namesake, used his influence to acquire large tracts of land for low prices with hopes of selling the land to this new wave of settlers to finance the lavish, aristocratic lifestyle to which he had become accustomed. The settlers, however, had other ideas.

This episode of HOME: The Story of Maine explores the conflict over who owned the land which shaped the political and cultural landscape of the Maine we know today.

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The Thomaston home of Henry Knox, America's first Secretary of War.
Pictured above:The Thomaston home of Henry Knox, America's first Secretary of War. After the Revolutionary War, war veterans streamed into Maine to claim frontier land as payment for fighting against the British. The only problem was that the land was owned by Knox, who then encountered difficulties in extracting rent and taxes from the new settlers.
 

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