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Where Maine Was Made a State

Over a hundred years ago when travelers made the stage coach journey between Bangor and Boston, their favorite stopping place for the night was in Freeport, at the Jameson Tavern, famous for its good cooking and comfortable beds.
At that time Maine was a province, ruled by Massachusetts; and it was in 1820, at the Jameson Tavern, that the final papers of separation were signed making Maine a free and independent State.

The old tavern still stands on the main street of the village and in 1915, the Maine Daughters of the American Revolution marked the house with a tablet so that the name and historical interest of the place might be preserved.
Built in 1779 by Dr. John Hyde, the house was sold later to Landlord Jameson who made it one of the best taverns in the Province of Maine. It was built on a solid ledge and very large timber was used in its construction. Long afterward it was sold to a Mr. Codman who also kept it as a public house, but at the time the articles of separation were signed, it was known as the Jameson Tavern.

Jameson Tavern, Freeport, where Act of Separation, making Maine a State was signed in1820

The commissioners empowered to make Maine a State met in 1820 in the front north-east room of the tavern. Over a fortnight, these men who represented both Maine and Massachusetts, deliberated and finally decided that Maine should give to Massachusetts $180,000 for her part of the public lands in the Province. Of this sum $30,000 was in Indian claims which Maine assumed, and the remaining $150,000 was to be paid in forty years with interest at five per cent. In the group of com-missioners which made this bargain were Timothy Bigelow of Groton, Mass., Levi Lincoln of Worcester, Mass., Benjamin Porter of Topsham and James Bridge of Augusta, Maine. These four chose Silas Holman of Bolton, Mass., and Lathrop Lewis of Gorham, Maine, to complete the board. Some time before this, the commissioners from Maine, joined by Daniel Rose of the Senate and Nicholas Emery of the House, had gone to Boston and discussed the matter with the Massachusetts commissioners. It was only after a long session, during which the board met in. a number of Massachusetts towns and cities that they came to Jameson Tavern and signed the final papers.

Some people opposed statehood for Maine and feeling was intense, both for and against it. At meetings called in all the cities and villages on Mon-day, July 26, all citizens went to the polls and a majority voted for her independence. After this meeting, the commissioners met at Jameson Tavern and signed the final articles of separation.

Since the tavern has become a private residence, many changes have been made. The low-posted bar-room is now the kitchen, but in the old time it was the chief room of entertainment for the guests. In this room, round the blaze in the big open fire-place, the famous judges and lawyers of Eastern Maine, tarrying on their way home from court, told strange tales of the road and whispered the latest political secrets of the day.

In the north-east room the old wainscoting still remains, but the deep window seat has been taken out. In spite of changes there still clings to the old house much of the charm of those far-away times when Jameson's Tavern was the favorite hostelry of the whole countryside; and loyal citizens should not forget that in this house in Freeport the commissioners at that long ago meeting signed the papers that made Maine a State.

Clara Newhall Fogg


Source: Maine My State, The Maine Writers Research Club, The Journal Print Shop, Lewiston, Maine, 1919

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