Maine’s Governors Statements on Mainers in the Confederacy

Even prior to moving to Texas a year ago, Maine’s Governor LePage had already really gotten my attention due to his outrageous, and often factless or fact-twisted, racist statements & behaviors.

His current embroglio is over the statements about the number of Mainers who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. I can forgive simple amnesia over historical fact, but for simply not thinking and expressing historical facts, patently untrue, is a little harder.

David Zimring, author of To Live and Die in Dixie: Native Northerners who Fought for the Confederacy, wrote a column in the Opinion Page of the August 29, 2017 issue of the Portland Press Herald, reporting that LePage just didn’t get it right on his statements about Mainers serving in the Civil War.

During a radio interview, the Governor was quoted as having said that 7600 Mainers fought for the Southern Supremacy to preserve property rights, abandoning their homes & families, to scrap with friends & neighbors. But this 1/2 truth, says Zimring, “betrays the legacy of the state he claims to cherish” (David Zimring, Maine’s contribution to the Confederacy was not what Gov. LePage says. Portland Press Herald, August 29, 2017, p. A4).

These numbers above were still in relative contrast with the seventy-thousand Mainers who fought with the Union. Of course, again, emphasizing the much smaller amount of Mainers in the Confederacy with the much larger numbers of those who fought for the Union and Abolition of Slavery, does an injustice to these ‘sons & daughters of Maine,’ many of whom gave their lives for the cause.

For the writer of this article, David Zimring, the most bothersome point is that all these Mainers had left for other southern states, prior to the War’s commencement. So, this is in contrast, to LePage’s statements.

As an historian, David Zimring, wants people to know that all of the Mainers who signed up for the Confederacy, lived in Confederate-leaning states before the Civil War; they and their families adopted the state into which they moved, thus, fought for the South. They fought in the Confederacy to maintain their allegiance to the state that gave them residency.

When the war ended, most of these Maine transplants remained in their adoptive states that they now considered their home; contrary to LePage’s statements, they didn’t fight for the Grays, with the mission of property rights.

Zimring concludes his article by writing, “Trying to manipulate the past to make a political point does a disservice to those who fought and those who remember. History is power and must be handled with utmost care” (Ibid.)

Clearly, and as his track record shows, Gov. LePage practices white supremacy in his words, stereotypes, and his behaviors; this is enough to disqualify him, in my opinion, from being the “titular, sovereign, and bellicose” leader of the state of Maine. Perhaps he is or isn’t proud of his educational background, I have no idea, but he should make diligent effort to get the facts correct, if not for himself, at least for all Mainers who believe in fact, accurate history, & Civil Rights.

Copyright: Christopher Bear-Beam September 18, 2017

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