1819 South Berwick Statehood Vote and Slavery
Excerpts from official records appear below, courtesy of the South Berwick Town Clerk. Since Maine was settled in the 1600s it had been a province of Massachusetts. In 1819 the United States Congress was debating whether to simultaneously admit Missouri as a state where slavery was legal, and Maine as a "free-soil" state, thus maintaining the balance of power between North and South in the U. S. Senate. The Missouri Compromise eventually passed March 3, 1820. The advisory votes of South Berwick citizens in 1819 were taken at the Town House then located at the intersection of today's Portland Street and Agamenticus Road.
South Berwick Town Meeting on July 6, 1819
Regarding the separation of the District of Maine from Massachusetts Proper.
Out of 105 votes, 35 were in favor of the separation and seventy were against.
South Berwick Town Meeting on December 30, 1819
The opinion of the inhabitants of South Berwick regarding the admission of new states into the union without some prohibition respecting the toleration of slavery in such states- The following annotations were accordingly adopted:
That inhabitants of this town view with concern and abhorrence the existence of slavery in this country; and consider it a disgrace to a free and Christian land- that it should be not be tolerated.
That in the opinion of this meeting, the Congress of the United States in the exercise of its constitutional powers, as to the admission of any new state, require as a condition of its admission the absolute prohibition of any further extension in such new state.
That in the opinion of this meeting, the honor and best interest of the United States render it just and expedient that this power should be exercised by Congress and the this condition should be required upon the admission of all new states created beyond the original limits of the United States.