• Three Letters -- Free Soil-Whig, Bangor, Maine Mayor, Southern Traitors, Treason, Steamboats

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    NEWELL BLAKE (1810-1891) was a retired merchant and manufacturer of Bangor, Maine, an ex-State Senator from Penobscot.  Blake was born in Kensington, NH, and came to Maine in 1841, settling in Old Town.  He had an interest in steamers on the St. John. He moved to Bangor to manufacture and ship lumber. While in Old Town, in 1852, he was elected on a mixed Free Soil, Whig and disaffected Democratic ticket to the state Senate. He was a member of the Committee on Mercantile Affairs and Insurance. He was also Chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs. In 1873, he was elected from the Bangor Fourth Ward as Alderman and chosen as Mayor the following year.  He served two terms.  Blake also helped organize the first Universalist church of Old Town.  [Research included]


    In the three ALSs, 2 covers, 8 pp total, two to his niece Mary Blake of Kensington, we get a glimpse of Blake’s entry into the steamship business, his partnership and his strong feelings about the Civil War, referring to secessionists as “traitors” who are being encouraged by President Lincoln and treason.


    November 15, 1860, in small part, “…I have made some arrangements to go into [the] steamboat business. Benj’m and Samuel Rideout and myself are building a steamboat down at ? opposite Bangor to run on the St. John River. We are equal owners…She is 126ft long and will be ready to launch as soon as the ice is out in the spring…I…may yet become a blue nose by going still further east into the dominion of her majesty Queen Victoria…I shall remain in the Union and let South Carolina slide if she sees fit…”


    December 22, 1860, “…Our girl Sarah got uneasy and discontented and left us. We have got along without since and are living alone this winter. The washing and ironing is done out of the house…I expected to…make arrangements for the running of our boat but I had an attack of neuralgia in my face and so Rideout went alone. I do not know whether I shall go on the boat next season. I shall probably go round to St. John with her in the spring. It is uncertain what management we shall make as to running her. There are some parties down there who wish to charter her and if satisfactory arrangements can be made…we may perhaps build another boat.


    “Those traitors down south seem to be determined on making a fuss any how and the course which the President is pursuing is encouraging them in their mad course. Oh that we had a Jackson or a Taylor at the helm of state that a few of those fellows might be made to know the rewards of treason…”


    March 4, 1861, “…I dip into the all absorbing topic of policks [sic] – secession – treason, Sumpter, Lincoln, etc., which is all there is going – and of course you have as much of it as we do – probably more as there is quite an important election coming off with you next week. They generally have a time of it in Kensington at the town meeting. Then you will have some more exhibitions of the rowdyism you spoke of in your last letter. You must write to me as soon as it is over and tell me all about it. Who the candidates were on each side, who is elected, how the vote stood…The indications are that the river will open early this spring. We are now hurrying along with our boat so as to have her ready to launch as soon as the ice leaves. I shall probably go round to St. John…”


    Expected folds, toning.


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