Maine Voices from the Civil War

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One hundred and fifty years after the Civil War of 1861-65, this most bloody and traumatic conflict in American history still evokes strong emotion. Maine's very statehood arose out of the conflicts and compromises that ultimately led to the Civil War, and Mainers were involved in the war at every level, from policy to battlefield.

At its heart, the Civil War was about slavery. Though it was outlawed in Maine, slavery played a role in the establishment of Maine statehood. In 1820, in what became known as the Missouri Compromise, Maine entered the Union as a free state, and Missouri as a slave state.

Slavery played a large role in Maine's pre-war economy. Its mills converted tons of slave-grown cotton into inexpensive fabrics. Both Copperheads and abolitionists were active in Maine. So-called Copperheads, those who opposed the war or were sympathetic to the South, focused their arguments on the economic costs of ending slavery, and considered federal abolition of slavery a challenge to the rights of each state. Abolitionists considered slavery to be morally wrong, despite its economic power.

Maine Voices of the Civil War will remain on view through September 5, 2015. With this exhibition, the Maine State Museum joins 22 other museum and historical societies in Maine's Civil War Trail, a statewide collaborative effort to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

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Above: Thirteen-year-old drummer boy Daniel Webster Marston of Strong, Maine. At left: Sign for the Kennebunk, Maine recruiting office of the 2nd Maine Cavalry.