chapter  1
22 Pages

“Fancy Foreshadowed a Magnicent Destiny”: e Market Revolution and the Kennebec River Dam Fight

Looking back over the contours of American history we are o en misled by the general assertions of progress argued in textbooks, syntheses, and the broad descriptions of eras in American history. e mid-nineteenth century was central to the expansion of the American economic system and the cornerstone to America’s future economic prosperity. erefore it is easy to view that era as one in which Americans equally and enthusiastically supported economic development and likewise shared in its benets; neither assumption is accurate. In the case of the Kennebec Dam, signicant protest arose along the Kennebec River in opposition to the dam. is protest is primarily articulated through petitions to the Maine state legislature opposing approval of the charter to build the dam. ese petitions are remarkable documents, generally well written, passionate, and comprehensive in revealing the variety of reasons for opposing the dam. Furthermore, the petitions reveal splits in communities over the building of the dam. Many towns had pro-dam and anti-dam petitions but they were all consistent in citing economic factors, either positive or negative, for their support for or opposition to the proposed dam.