Paul’s presentation examines the different perspectives of Maine statehood and of Maine culture as seen through the prism of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, which definitively established the boundary between British North America and the United States. Many forget that the treaty also formally established a new mechanism for collaboration between London and Washington to combat the continued international trade of enslaved peoples, which technically was outlawed in the United States in 1808. However, as famous cases such as the Amistad have shown, the smuggling of enslaved people continued well past that date.
Through a PowerPoint presentation, which includes images of maps from the Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine (many thanks to fellow MHC speaker and director of the Map Library Libby Bischof), Paul explores the treaty itself and its impact on the singular Acadian and Francophone community of the St. John Valley, which found itself split into two countries. He gives historical context as well, most certainly commencing with the long-standing Maliseet and Mi’kmaq communities of the region, along with Scots-Irish and, by the 1820s, of Maine Yankee residents.