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Two Talks with Mark Alan Leslie

Maine Burning: The Ku Klux Klan Invasion
Wednesday, September 19, 6:00 PM in the Great Room

The State of Maine and the Ku Klux Klan. Improbable as it sounds, the KKK took root in Maine in the 1920s, reaching such heights that it helped elect Governor Ralph Owen Brewster, the mayors of Rockland, Bath, Saco and Westbrook and many others.

This shocking time in Maine’s history, omitted from history textbooks for nearly 100 years, will be explored and discussed by author Mark Alan Leslie.


Maine Tracks: The Underground Railroad in Maine
Wednesday, October 3, 6:00 PM in the Great Room

Maine’s connection to the famous Underground Railroad that helped free runaway slaves in the mid-1800s does not begin and end with Harriet Beecher Stowe. Indeed, from Kittery to Fort Fairfield, Mainers conspired together to break the law — the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 — forming a network of “safe houses,” hiding slaves from slave hunters and scurrying them to Canada.

At the at Boothbay Harbor Public Library at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, author Mark Alan Leslie will weave the tale of the brave families, including those from Augusta eastward, who housed and fed slaves in hidden rooms, attics and elsewhere en route to the next secret “way station” in the “railroad.”


READ MORE ABOUT THE TALKS:

Maine Burning: The Ku Klux Klan Invasion
Wednesday, September 19, 6:00 PM in the Great Room

The State of Maine and the Ku Klux Klan. Improbable as it sounds, the KKK took root in Maine in the 1920s, reaching such heights that it helped elect Governor Ralph Owen Brewster, the mayors of Rockland, Bath, Saco and Westbrook and many others.

This shocking time in Maine’s history, omitted from history textbooks for nearly 100 years, will be explored and discussed by author Mark Alan Leslie.

“While African-Americans were few in Maine at that time, the KKK’s targets were French-Canadians, Catholics and Irish and Polish immigrants as well as Jews,” says Leslie. “And were they effective! The Klan’s Maine membership reached a reported 150,000, nearly 20 percent of the state’s population of 790,000, in 1923-25. When the KKK held its first state conclave in a forest outside Waterville in 1923, nearly 15,000 attended.”

The Midcoast area was not immune to the Klan’s recruitment.

Hodgdon Buzzell, president of the Maine State Senate, was a proud member of the Belfast KKK klavern and Rockland’s citizens elected Carlton Snow, who was endorsed by the Klan. Meanwhile, Rev. E.V. Allen of Rockland was one of the first to join the Rockland Klan and in respect for his diligent service the Klan officials elevated him to the office of Grand Klaliff, State of Maine.

Meanwhile, parades were held in Portland, Gardiner, Milo, Dexter, Brewer and elsewhere.

Leslie will tell the tale of the rise and fall of this organization which, now and again, still makes headlines in Maine today.

The Monmouth resident’s fictional novel, The Crossing, is a sweeping — and ultimately uplifting — look at the KKK’s impact on a small western Maine town in 1923.

Called “a seasoned wordsmith…in the class of John Grisham” by the American Family Association’s AFA Journal, Leslie burst onto the scene in 2008 with Midnight Rider for the Morning Star, then earned Featured Book status from Publishers Weekly for his 2015 novel, True North: Tice’s Story, about the Underground Railroad in Maine.

After his talk, Leslie will be available to sign his novels, including three contemporary action/adventures, the latest being The Last Aliyah, published this spring.

More about the author: https://www.markalanleslie.com/

Maine Tracks: The Underground Railroad in Maine
Wednesday, October 3, 6:00 PM in the Great Room

Maine’s connection to the famous Underground Railroad that helped free runaway slaves in the mid-1800s does not begin and end with Harriet Beecher Stowe. Indeed, from Kittery to Fort Fairfield, Mainers conspired together to break the law — the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 — forming a network of “safe houses,” hiding slaves from slave hunters and scurrying them to Canada.

At the at Boothbay Harbor Public Library at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, author Mark Alan Leslie will weave the tale of the brave families, including those from Augusta eastward, who housed and fed slaves in hidden rooms, attics and elsewhere en route to the next secret “way station” in the “railroad.”

“Some called slavery ‘the absolute power of one person over another — the vilest human behavior and institution,’” said Leslie. “Others called it ‘essential to our economy and prosperity’ and even ‘a humane institution which provided food, shelter and family’ to the African race.”

“Slavery was the one issue that has been able to tear America apart,” he added, “the fight to preserve it and the battle to undo its suffocating hold on the South.”

And slavery remains in the news. The Treasury Department plans to add Harriet Tubman, a heroine of the Underground Railroad, to the $20 bill. Also, the Brunswick home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, a National Historic Landmark since 1962, was placed on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The former parlor room, where it is believed she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is open to the public as “Harriet’s Writing Room.”

President Abraham Lincoln once said to Mrs. Stowe, “So you’re the little lady who began all this.”

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was instrumental in raising awareness of the scourge of slavery, but it took scores of people here in Maine to make the dream of escape a reality,” Leslie said.

Everywhere, anyone who helped slaves escape could be jailed and fined — as much as $9,000 — if caught in the act. So they were putting their lives and fortunes in jeopardy.

Some African-American families in Maine have relatives in the Maritimes as a result of surreptitious activities among the approximately 75 homes, churches and other sites recognized as likely stops along the Underground Railroad in Portland, Brunswick, Vassalboro, Augusta, Eastport, Auburn, Biddeford, Orono, Fort Fairfield and elsewhere.

Leslie, a longtime journalist, first burst on the literary scene with his novel Midnight Rider for the Morning Star, based on the life of Francis Asbury, America’s first circuit-riding preacher.

The Monmouth resident’s fictional novel, True North: Tice’s Story, is a rousing adventure, following a slave’s escape rom Kentucky on the Underground Railroad through Maine to Canada. Publisher’s Weekly selected True North as a Featured Book when it was released in 2016.