19th century Maine sea captains and ship builders had surprising involvement in the slave trade

Mainers often are justifiably proud of the state’s maritime heritage — but that heritage is more complicated and shadowy than many people realize. Sea captains and shipowners from the Pine Tree State were active participants in the slave economy.  

That’s one of the takeaways from “Cotton Town: Maine’s Economic Connections to Slavery,” an exhibit at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath that uses primary sources and objects from the museum’s collection to shine a light on the past.

“Definitely it’s a pretty surprising part of history,” Luke Gates-Milardo, the education and community engagement specialist at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, said Thursday. “It is going to be outside some people’s comfort zones.”

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