Southern Maine Community College celebrates Maine’s 201st year

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Members of the South Portland Historical Society, staff and students of Southern Maine Community College gathered at the Old Settlers’ Cemetery on campus on March 15, Maine’s 201st birthday, to honor Ebenezer Thrasher, who lived from 1760 in 1829 and was a delegate from Cape Elizabeth who signed the Constitution of Maine in 1820. The ceremony included the discovery of a tombstone for Thrasher. Catherine Bart photo

SOUTH PORTLAND – On a cold and windy Monday, March 15, staff at Southern Maine Community College, students and board members of the South Portland Historical Society celebrated Maine’s 201st birthday in the honor of a prominent historical figure.

The ceremony, which took place on Maine’s 201st birthday, recognized Ebenezer Thrasher, Cape Elizabeth’s delegate to the Maine Constitutional Convention in 1820, said Herb Adams, historian and CMCC professor.

Thrasher lived from 1760 to 1829, is buried in the former settlers’ cemetery on the CMCC campus, and his family sold the land on which Portland Head Light was built, Adams said.

The first representative of the state of Cape Elizabeth to serve in Maine’s first legislature, Thrasher served from 1820 to 1821, Adams said.

“He was one of 235 men who gathered in the fall of 1819 in Portland’s First Parish Church to hammer, nail and carpenter together the constitution of what would be the 23rd State of the Young Union and the 23rd Star on his flag, “he said.

Joshua Parks, left, president of the Student Senate at Southern Maine Community College, places a flag over the grave of Ebenezer Thrasher, a Cape Elizabeth delegate to the Maine Constitution Convention in 1820. Herb Adams, historian and professor at SMCC, in the middle, uncovers the gravestone. Also in attendance was Kathryn DiPhilippo, far-right, executive director of the South Portland Historical Society. Catherine Bart photo

CMCC President Joseph Cassidy said he was proud the school has a part of Maine’s past.

“It’s so wonderful that this piece of history is part of our campus,” he said.

Students attending SMCC are on one of the first steps on their journey to becoming future leaders, so it’s only fitting that one of Maine’s early leaders is in the campus cemetery, said Joshua Parks, president. of the student senate.

“We come here to a giant’s resting place at CMCC,” Parks said.

Joseph Cassidy, president of Southern Maine Community College, speaking March 15 at Old Settlers’ Cemetery during a celebration for Maine’s 201st birthday. This ceremony has been postponed from Maine’s bicentennial year, 2020, to this March due to COVID-19.

While founding Maine came at a cost, Missouri’s compromise, there were blessings too, Adams said.

“The Constitution of Maine abolished property qualifications and wealth qualifications to run for office and hold office.
and guaranteed the right to vote to all men 21 and over – all men, white or black, and the new United States Bill of Rights listed 10 articles – 10 summary rights – (while) the new Declaration of Maine’s rights listed 24 rights, all of which belong to the common man, ”Parks said. “Not bad.”

Adams discovered Thrasher’s gravestone and the United States flag was placed over the grave along with flowers, placed by Kathryn DiPhilippo, executive director of the South Portland Historical Society. The ceremony ended after a minute of silence.

DiPhilippo spoke about the importance of remembering history, the types of people who have ruled the state and the country, and what people can learn from the past by creating new laws and policies today.

The flags displayed at the event were the current Maine state flag and the Tan Star and Pine Tree flag from 1901, Adams said.

“Neither the British, nor the Bostonians, nor the cold have ever stopped the Mainers before, and COVID won’t do it now,” Adams said.

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