Tag Archives: Kennebunk

Maine towns opposed Indian Removal Act

caravanYork County has a long history of conflicts between Native Americans and Colonists but the Town of Kennebunk spoke in a unified voice protesting the 1830 Indian Removal Act before the United States Legislature.

Thomas Jefferson professed to be a proponent of “Indians assimilating into American culture and Democracy.” He proposed that those Choctaw, Cherokee and Creek tribes not so inclined might retain their right to land occupancy if they traded their cultivated farms and orchards east of the Mississippi River for wilderness lots on his new Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson first introduced the idea of “Indian Removal” in an 1803 Draft of Constitutional Amendment Incorporating Louisiana Territory into the United States. The document is part of the digitized Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress.

It reads, in part, “The legislature of the Union shall have the authority to exchange the right of occupancy in portions where the U.S. have full rights, for land possessed by Indians within the U.S. on the East side of the Mississippi, to exchange lands on the East side of the river for those of the White Inhabitants on the West side thereof.”

Jefferson hoped to finance the Louisiana Purchase from the proceeds of selling eastern Indian lands to wealthy plantationers. At a special session of Congress the Louisiana Purchase was ratified but did not incorporate Jefferson’s plan for “Indian Removal.”

President James Monroe proposed the idea to Congress again in 1825 but it didn’t have broad support until Andrew Jackson became President in 1829. At his first possible Presidential opportunity Jackson spoke to Congress making clear his support of the plan as a way to preserve the endangered Indian culture.

“Surrounded by the whites with their arts of civilization, which by destroying the resources of the savage doom him to weakness and decay,” he said. The Cherokee Nation was participating in the “arts of civilization” by anyone’s standards in 1829. They had a Constitution and a newspaper, The Cherokee Phoenix, in which every column was printed in English and in Cherokee. They also had fertile, gold rich land that the United States wanted.

The town of Kennebunk responded to President Jackson’s support of the bill with a memorial to the United States Legislature praying that the Indians be protected in their rights, and in the possession of their lands.

It read, “That your memorialists feel constrained to come before the National Legislature with an earnest request that the public faith may be preserved inviolate in all the transactions of the Government with the Indians; that these dependent allies, some of whom have been models of good faith and good neighborhood, may be treated with kindness and generosity, as well as with justice; that no encroachment may be made upon their right of territory, or right of self-government, as guaranteed by numerous treaties; and that they may be secure in their possessions which they derived from their ancestors, of which they are now in peaceable enjoyment, and to the continued occupancy of which they have, in the language of the Chief Justice of the United States, ‘a legal and just claim,’ independently of any guarantee from the United States. And your memorialists, as duty bound, will ever pray. Kennebunk, March 10, 1830.”

There was further opposition to the Indian Removal Act.

Maine Senator Peleg Sprague made an impassioned plea to Congress to honor the 15 treaties the U. S. Government had made with the Cherokee Nation between 1775 and 1819 promising that they could live unmolested in Georgia forever. Sprague reminded his audience that the treaties had not been signed out of generosity but in exchange for the maintenance of peace and cessions of territory. Ladies groups, Quakers and seven towns in the United States filed memorials in support of honoring the treaties. Two of those towns were in Maine; Brunswick and Kennebunk.

The Indian Removal Act passed in both houses of Congress by a narrow margin. President Jackson, who had signed the bill into law, opened his first annual message to Congress, December 8, 1830 with the following statement. “It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation.” The Indian Removal Act was, in reality, only the first shameful step on the “Trail of Tears,” the forcible eviction of the Native Americans living east of the Mississippi began in 1838.

Captain Maling conjures the dead

maling“A letter written on the high seas nearly 90 years ago by Capt. Moses Maling of Kennebunk and mailed by him in San Francisco was a feature of the program at the 130th annual meeting of the Kennebunk Fire Society,” reported the Kennebunk Star on the front page of its November 12, 1943 issue. After making some remarks about her own high seas adventures Mrs. Irving Fletcher began reading the mystifying correspondence written somewhere in the Pacific Ocean during December of 1856.

Captain Moses C. Maling was born in Kennebunkport in 1819. His first wife, Olive Chadbourne, was the daughter of Kennebunk’s Captain Elisha Chadbourne. Their first child, Mary, was born in 1849. A son, Charles Howard, better known as Hobby, followed in 1853. The young family hated to be apart. Olive and the children accompanied Captain Maling on two voyages before his 1856 adventure on the Donald McKay ship Bostonian.

When in Kennebunk the family lived in the Elisha Chadbourne house with Olive’s mother and sister. Seven year old Mary was ill when Moses left for Boston alone in 1856. He received a letter from his wife just as he was boarding the vessel bound for San Francisco by way of Cape Horn. His daughter’s condition had worsened and hopes for her recovery were slim. The Captain was reduced to tears before his crew.

For three months Maling believed his daughter Mary was dead. The Bostonian reached the equator 29 days from Boston, passed Rio de Janeiro 38 days out and Cape Horn on Day 59 of the voyage.

“The next day after passing Staten Island” Moses wrote, “the wild winds of old Cape Horn came down upon us in full blast and for 22 days we encountered the most terrific weather. Snow and rain every day and upon two occasions our decks were completely filled with snow so that all hands were employed all day shoveling it off. After a hard battering of four weeks we got around the horn into the Pacific.”

They were then becalmed for 16 days which Maling found more challenging than rounding the horn.

The second half of the voyage was much less stressful and the men found themselves with time on their hands.

Just before leaving Kennebunk, Moses had attended several “Spiritualist” meetings at Thomas Lord’s house on the Portland Road in Kennebunk. It seems clear in his letter that Olive had not shared Moses’ fascination with the supernatural. The seamen aboard the Bostonian decided to reach out to the dead every evening for the last month of their journey. They discovered that 16-year-old Henry Ward, Olive’s nephew, who would later become a celebrated sea captain himself, was a gifted spiritual medium. Most of the good spirits that visited the Bostonian were coincidentally related to Olive Maling and therefore to Henry.

Olive’s father and brother, Frank came every night. At first Ward wrote what the spirits told him but they soon gained full control of him and spoke with his voice. One night the ghost of Moses’ sister came to call. She had just been in Kennebunk and had good news for Moses. His little girl had regained her strength and was out in the snow with her brother Hobby. Moses had had misgivings when evil spirits Joe Crediford and Daniel Nason influenced Henry Ward to throw a table across the cabin knocking him on the head but the reassurance of daily reports of his loved ones’ activities won him over. By the end of the voyage Moses was practicing to be a medium himself.

The Bostonian reached San Francisco on January 3, 1857. Captain Maling raced to pick up his mail and was delighted to discover that the spirits had been correct about his daughter’s recovery. Though they had misled Moses about a few things he was quick to blame the evil Daniel Nason and Joe Crediford for maliciously lying to him.

Moses C. Maling returned home and sadly, his son Hobby died the following year. Another daughter was born in 1859 and in 1863 the family moved into a beautifully appointed new home on Zion’s Hill that still stands there today at 36 Summer Street. When he died in 1893 Moses Maling was mourned as an intelligent and respectable man.

The sometimes judgmental Kennebunk Town Clerk, Andrew Walker, who seldom omitted any incriminating details from his diary, had a most complementary opinion of Captain Maling. One can only assume that Olive had the good sense not to share her husband’s letter with her neighbors.