In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

1 “Delightfully Situated on a Healthy Hill” The Port of Portland before the Civil War Europeans first settled the area now known as Portland more than 375 years ago, in 1633, with the arrival of George Cleeve and Richard Tucker. Although originally a squatter, Cleeve by 1637 had obtained a grant for the peninsula, surrounding lands, and islands from the English proprietor Sir Ferdinando Gorges. The earliest enterprises of European settlers were fishing , lumbering, and fur trading. Capt. Christopher Leavitt (Levett), while sailing the Maine coast in 1623–24, found no settlements between the mouth of the Piscataqua River (present-day Kittery, Maine, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire) and Newagen (below present-day Boothbay Harbor at the southern tip of Southport Island). Earlier British fishing expeditions had been attacked by Native Americans along the coast, and Leavitt thought it advisable to provide for the safety of these fishing crews and their valued catches. He may well have provisioned House Island in Casco Bay around 1623. Before his death at sea in 1630 Leavitt’s plan gained the support of King Charles I, who “ordered all churches in the realm to take up a contribution to aid this enterprise on the Maine coast.” Perhaps today’s House Island, the innermost island at the mouth of a well-protected natural harbor, might suit their needs. Captain Leavitt eventually fashioned a plan in England: “One harbor to which all the boats along the coast could be brought for storage and protection must be fortified. For this he had in mind what is now Portland Harbor.”1 George Cleeve, one of Portland’s two original European settlers, first settled on Richmond Island off Cape Elizabeth. The island was named for its first settler in the early 1620s, John Richmond, of Bandon Bridge, Ireland. His region of Ireland had been planted by English Protestants in the time The Port of Portland before the Civil War 7 of Queen Elizabeth, and many of its Puritans had been unhappy in Ireland. “The names of several of them are found on the Mayflower’s passenger list and in John Winter’s accounts.”2 Both nineteenth- and twentieth-century historians have focused on the importance of the ocean. In the words of Robert D. Foulke, the sea was “largely unchanged since the first separation of earth and water.” Foulke continues, “Throughout all centuries, unlike the land, the sea has been a constant for those who sailed on it, variable in mood but immutable in essence .”3 A local historian, Edward Elwell, wrote in 1876, “The impenetrable forest was behind them, the open ocean before them, and this was their highway and the chief source of their sustenance.”4 One hundred years later a nearly identical view was expressed by a more contemporary American historian who wrote that “the ocean was the highway connecting the Old World and the New and the seaport towns were the vital link between the two.”5 Today, this view is still widely supported. Maritime historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto writes that “global history became a reality. It grew out of maritime history.” In the same maritime resource, the Newfoundlandbased maritime historian Olaf Janzen subscribes to Elwell’s much earlier conceptualization by titling his essay “A World-Embracing Sea: The Oceans as Highways.”6 This settlement became known by its Native American name, Aucocisco, or Casco, from Wabanaki words for a muddy bay or, alternatively, a great blue heron. An earlier aboriginal name for the peninsula had been Machigonne (Machegonne) meaning elbow or knee or, according to John Neal, bad clay from the words “matchi” (bad) and “gon” (clay).7 By 1658, Massachusetts had taken control of this entire area and in the process changed the town name to Falmouth, along with countless other English place names along the Maine coast and inland. The growth of the area was slow. By 1675, more than forty years after its first settlement, there were only forty families living on the peninsula, which was then referred to as the Neck. In 1675, a series of wars began in response to the white traders’ ill-treatment of the Native American population along the New England coast.8 In 1676 Falmouth was destroyed and would lay dormant for two years. However , resettlement between 1678 and 1688 caused Falmouth to double in population, reaching between six hundred and seven hundred persons living within approximately eighty families.9 By 1688, a second phase of these Seated by the Sea 8 wars had started...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.