LePage said 7,600 Mainers fought for the Confederacy. It was maybe 30.

This recruiting sign, which came from a Kennebunk recruiting office for a Civil War regiment formed in 1864, was on display at the Maine State Museum in 2014. (BDN file photo)

Calling himself “a history buff,” Gov. Paul LePage revised Civil War history as we know it on Tuesday saying “7,600 Mainers fought for the Confederacy.”

Approximately 30 people are confirmed to have gone from Maine to the Confederacy, including students who left Bowdoin College in Brunswick and what is now Colby College in Waterville to fight, but they could have been from other parts of the country.

Maine’s history as one of the proudest Union states is well-documented. It sent about 73,000 people to war — a higher proportion than any other state — and more than 9,000 died, though there were some pockets of Southern sympathizers.

A few men with Maine ties became Confederate generals, including the Leeds-born Danville Leadbetter, the Avon-born Zebulon York and Josiah Gorgas, who controlled the Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta from 1856 to 1858.

But those three hardly qualified as Mainers at the time they joined the rebels. Leadbetter went to the South originally as a U.S. Army officer. York joined as a Louisiana plantation owner. Gorgas was moved from Maine to other assignments before quitting the Army and going to Alabama to fight the Union.

LePage also said on WVOM the war was “a property rights issue” when it began, saying Lincoln made it about slavery “to a great degree,” but Elizabeth Leonard, a Colby College history professor, said the governor “is wrong there, too.”

Slaves were property then and Southern states’ right to slavery was a major issue of the 1860 election, which was narrowly won by Lincoln in a crowded field. More than 62 percent of Mainers voted for him, a percentage topped by only three other states. Mainer Hannibal Hamlin was Lincoln’s first vice president.

Advertisements
POLL QUESTION

LePage echoes Trump in blaming ‘both sides’ for Virginia violence

Do you agree with LePage that both the white supremacists and counter-protesters are responsible for last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville?

After remaining largely silent on the past weekend’s violence in Virginia, Gov. Paul LePage erupted Thursday on the radio, echoing President Donald Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville conflict, assigning equal blame to white supremacists and counter-protesters who showed up to oppose a rally against removing a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

LePage said he “condemns both sides” of the uprising, adding they are “disgusting” and that “there’s no place for either of those groups in this country.”

 

On Wednesday, in the wake of Ku Klux Klan fliers reportedly being found in Boothbay Harbor, Bartlett said in a written statement that “actions like these are the direct result of leaders like Donald Trump, Paul LePage and Mary Mayhew who only embolden white supremacists by refusing to stand up and condemn their hateful actions and rhetoric.

“I would tell you right away how I would react,” LePage said. “All guns ahead, boys. Take them out … my first advice to the Maine people is don’t gather in these large crowds. It’s not safe…  If you choose to go in and battle, I will not be timid.”

LePage has faced criticism for what some have called racially charged comments at several times during his tenure. In January 2016, he unleashed a firestorm when he used racial terms to describe Maine’s drug problem, saying that drug traffickers from Connecticut and New York come to Maine and impregnate girls who are “young” and “white” before leaving the state. In August 2016, he used similar framing when he made comments about black and Hispanic people coming to Maine to sell drugs.

LePage’s take on opposition to removing Confederate statues also mirrored Trump, who made a “slippery slope” argument that removing statues of Confederate leaders like Lee would result in a call for the removal of monuments to Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, because they owned slaves.

Let’s take down the statues of Washington (slave owner, war profiteer, horrid general) and Jefferson (slave owner, slave raper, war profiteer.)

NC_lepagewall0907_1920x1080.jpg

 

Vetoes, bonds and late LePage surprises

The Legislature is back in Augusta on Wednesday for what’s set to be the last official day of the 2017 session.

They’re mostly back to vote on overriding 27 vetoes from Gov. Paul LePage, including bills that would set long-term solar policy, increase Maine’s tobacco-buying age to 21 and prohibit handheld cellphone use while driving.

th