This morning I once again participated in the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence at the New Gloucester (Maine) Historical Society’s History Barn located behind the Meeting House in the Lower Village. As a regular summer visitor for over two decades, and now a summer resident for the past six seasons, I was honored to continue my participation in this fine tradition marking the day we celebrate our revocation of British tyranny. And as before, I read the section listing the numerous “injuries and usurpations” to the American Colonies by King George III.
The Declaration meant a great deal to the early citizens of New Gloucester. In 1736, a group of citizens of Gloucester, Massachusetts petitioned the colonial governor to settle land near the coast in the Province of Maine (it would not become a state until 1822). The petition was granted the following year, and in 1739 a group of settlers cut a road from Yarmouth, on Casco Bay north of what is now Portland, through the intervale to the headwaters of the Royal River at Sabbathday Lake where our summer cottage is located. A blockhouse fortification and palisades were erected on the high ridge line of Gloucester Hill circa 1753-1754 during the French and Indian War. The town of New Gloucester was eventually incorporated in 1774 at a time when the thirteen American colonies were organizing to express general dissatisfaction with their treatment by the British crown. Upon incorporation the good people of New Gloucester made it known that it would gladly contribute to the common defense of the united colonies in support of full independence. By the end of the Revolutionary War, 44 New Gloucestermen heeded this call to arms.
I think every American should read this document from time to time to remind ourselves of the promises we made as a nation and its citizenry 239 years ago. I fear we have strayed far from many of the freedoms and rights granted to us by our forefathers. It is time we reconnect with our honorable heritage and face the future with a renewed sense of patriotism as we honor the gifts our Founding Fathers presented to us.
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