April 25, 2018
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Eastport’s 1814 history deserves commemoration

By John Miller, Special to the BDN

June 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812. There are some who consider the war an American victory. But there are others who consider the war a British victory.

Ultimately, from what I read about it, most consider the war ended in a stalemate. Others agree that Native North Americans ended up losing the most. The result of this war was the longest undefended border in the world and 200 years of peace between Canada and the United States.

Certainly the War of 1812 was a defining moment in our Canadian neighbors’ history. Had the English and French militias and aboriginal Canadians not worked together with British military forces, the American invasions would not successfully have been repelled. Without the War of 1812, Canada as we know it would not exist.

One thing is for sure; the War of 1812 strengthened the young United States and firmly established its position in the world. America held together against a major European power. The boundaries of the U.S. were strengthened and it gained international standing. After the war’s conclusion, the United States took a more isolationist stance. For the next several decades, the nation focused on internal improvements and exploration, and, pursuant to the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, largely withdrew from European and world politics.

In the middle of it all in the year 1814, the British sailed into Eastport Harbor, took control of Fort Sullivan, set up life here on our island and began their occupation of our community. Few communities on either side of the border have such a strong connection to what many historians call “America’s Second War for Independence.”

As we enter into 2012, it is time to make sure that Eastport has established a team of citizen members to plan for the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the 1814 Invasion of Eastport that is just two short years away. The team’s mission should be to develop events, activities and materials to educate the public.

Members of the Eastport Border Historical Society have done a great job in opening the pages of our history to so many people. It is time, however, for the entire community delegation, Maine state government, members of Congress and all of Maine to get involved in order to make sure this moment in history is properly commemorated and observed.

A re-enactment of the invasion would be a wonderful way to showcase Eastport’s significant history. Extending invitations now to tall ships from Canada, England, France and our own nation is none too soon.

We don’t do enough in this community to protect our past, to teach our past, to get kids involved and to learn about Eastport’s brilliant history and important moments of our past. There is no greater example of that than the War of 1812 and the British occupation of Eastport.

We need the full support of the city council, elected representatives to the Legislature, Congress, Chamber of Commerce and every citizen in joining the efforts of the Eastport Border Historical Society in the short 24 months ahead of us until we step into 2014.

History is about to knock on our door. I hope that we are ready to greet it with the welcome that it deserves.

John Miller is a former member of the Eastport City Council.

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