AUGUSTA - The stories of Maine people, the events, and issues of the Civil War are now available online. “The first installment of stories is ready. People all over the world will be able to learn about and appreciate the extraordinary involvement of Maine people in the Civil War,” State Archivist David Cheever said.
The stories begin with the results in the federal election of 1860, when all of the State’s electoral votes were won by Abraham Lincoln and his vice presidential running mate, Maine’s Hannibal Hamlin. “The voting here and across the country led to the secession of South Carolina and its sister states in the South. Maine sentiment against slavery and against secession fueled the response here following the bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, in April of 1861,” Cheever said.
The narratives, http://maine.gov/sos/arc/sesquicent/civilwarwk.shtml, address a wide range of events and issues. “The stories deal with Maine people, first, but they also address everything from health care, race relations, gender equity, intergovernmental relations, taxation policy, and, of course, the military,” Cheever said.
The stories each contain a Maine-based person, the location for which that person is known, an event or issue, and a follow-up question. “Our first audience is the public, but the stories have been produced with students in mind,” Cheever said.
The presentations online contain illustrations, primary source document transcripts, and accessible images of those documents. “Most of the stories come from the holdings at the Archives, but we have a growing number that come from historical societies, museums, and other repositories throughout Maine,” Cheever said.
More than 25 contributors, including student interns, volunteers from the public, and staff, have helped bring the project to fruition. The original goal for the project was to have one story for each week of the Civil War. “More than 150 stories are now available, and another 100 are in process. We expect that we will have more than 400 by the time the project ends,” Cheever said.
"The remarkable sequence of events that led to conflict is a matter of history we take for granted," said Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap. "In the election of 1860 and the subsequent re-election of Lincoln in 1864--remarkable for the fact that this nation conducted a presidential election in the midst of a terrible civil war--we have plenty to observe and be thankful for. Not many countries would see a peaceful change of power of the scope we have witnessed in the 2010 election cycle. Much of that is due to the sacrifice of Mainers on the battlefields of America those many generations ago."