Monday, June 2, 2008

1855 The Portland Rum Riot

The Portland Rum Riot, also called the Maine Law Riot, was a brief but violent period of civil unrest that occurred in Portland, Maine on 2 June 1855. The underlying stimulus of the riot was anger over the Maine law of 1851 which outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcohol in the state, except for medicinal and mechanical purposes.

Rumors began to spread that Portland Mayor Neal S. Dow, (1804-1897), also known as the "Napoleon of Temperance" an outspoken prohibitionist, was keeping a large supply of alcohol in the city. It is true that Dow had authorized a shipment of $1,600 worth of "medicinal and mechanical alcohol" that was being stored in the city for distribution to pharmacists and doctors (as was authorized under the Maine law) but this detail was not widely reported.

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