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Bowdoin, James - History

Bowdoin, James - History

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Bowdoin, James (1726-1790) Governor of Massachusetts: Bowdoin graduated from Harvard College in 1745, was elected to the Massachusetts General Court eight years later, and was appointed to the Massachusetts council in 1757. When he served as a delegate to the Albany Congress of 1754, he supported Benjamin Franklin's plan for union. Although he was only a moderate proponent of the colonists' position in the 1760's, he openly supported them by 1768, and was associated with the Sons of Liberty. From 1775 to 1777, Bowdoin served on the executive council of the Massachusetts assembly, and presided over the provincial constitutional convention of 1779. Elected Governor of Massachusetts in 1785, he suppressed a 1786 insurrection of farmers in what was later called Shays' Rebellion.

Staley was born on ( 1956-12-27 ) December 27, 1956 in Boston, Massachusetts. [3] His father, Paul R. Staley, was president and CEO of PQ Corporation, a chemicals company, [4] who eventually settled the family outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His grandfather, Edward Staley, was the top executive of W.T. Grant at the time when the company filed for bankruptcy in 1976. [3] His brother, Peter Staley, is an AIDS activist. [5]

Jes Staley graduated cum laude from Bowdoin College with a degree in economics. [6]

In 1979, after graduation, Staley joined Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. of New York. [6] From 1980 to 1989, he worked in the bank's Latin America division, where he served as head of corporate finance for Brazil and general manager of the company's Brazilian brokerage firm. In the early 1990s, Staley became one of the founding members of J.P. Morgan's equities business and ran the Equity Capital Market and Syndicate groups. In 1999, he became head of the bank's Private Banking division which, under his leadership, improved profitability threefold during two years. In 2001, he was promoted to CEO of J.P. Morgan Asset Management and ran the division until 2009. [7] During his tenure, J.P. Morgan Asset Management's client assets expanded from $605 billion to nearly $1.3 trillion. [3] Staley has also been noted for his work on J.P. Morgan's strategic investment in Highbridge Capital Management by being named as one of the twenty hedge fund superstars at J.P. Morgan. [8] His contribution to J.P. Morgan becoming a LGBT friendly company was also recognized. [9] In 2009, Staley was promoted to Chief Executive of the Investment Bank. [10] In this position, Staley was responsible for overseeing and coordinating the firm's international efforts across all lines of business. [11]

In 2013, Staley left J.P. Morgan after more than 30 years to join BlueMountain Capital as a managing partner. In May 2015, he was elected to the board of directors of the Swiss global financial services company UBS [12] as a new member [13] of the Human Resources and Compensation Committee and of the Risk Committee. [14] However, on October 28, 2015, it was announced that Staley would become group chief executive of Barclays, effective December 1, 2015. [15] To avoid any conflicts of interest, UBS accepted his resignation from all of his functions at UBS with immediate effect. [16]

In 2015, Staley spent £6.4m buying 2.8m shares in Barclays at 233p. Barclays has a policy that directors should own shares worth four times their salaries, which Staley achieved, as his salary amounted to £1.2m. However, his total remuneration package, including his salary, a fixed pay allowance to avoid an EU cap on bonuses, annual bonuses of up to £2.1m and a long-term incentive plan of £3.2m, was worth £10m in 2015. [17] [ needs update ] In March 2016, he gave his vision for the future of Barclays' investment bank, [18] although the changes he has brought until then have not been well received by the markets. [19] [ needs update ]

Staley's attempts in 2016 to discover a whistleblower's identity were investigated for over a year by British regulators, an investigation which was one of the first tests of the UK's "Senior managers regime", intended to make high-level banking officials personally accountable. [20] On April 20, 2018, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulatory Authority announced that Staley could stay on as CEO, though he would have to pay a fine. [21] [22] Staley was fined £642,430 by the FCA and Barclays said it would cut £500,000 of his bonus over the matter. [23] In May 2017, "email prankster" James Linton began his spree with Staley pranked with an acrostic alluding to the whistleblower affair. [24]

In February 2020 the FCA announced an investigation into whether Staley was "fit and proper" to lead Barclays, due to concerns over his previous disclosures of his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. [25] Staley told Bloomberg TV that "The investigation is actually focused on transparency, and whether I was transparent and open with the bank and with the board with respect to my relationship with Jeffrey Epstein." [26] Staley told colleagues that he expects to leave Barclays by the end of 2021 and could step down at the annual meeting in May 2021. [27]

On October 24, 2015, the Daily Mail published an article saying they had seen emails by Jeffrey Epstein indicating he had "began arguing for Mr Staley in financial circles in the summer of 2012" while Barclays was searching for a new CEO. The Times reported that Barclays denied being lobbied by Epstein on behalf of Staley, and that Staley is said to have been unaware that Epstein was backing him for the role. [28]

Staley met his wife Debora Nitzan Staley [29] soon after starting work in South America, "I was Unitarian Boston American and she was Jewish Brazilian São Paulo . I was her parents' worst nightmare." [3] The family has two daughters, [30] and maintains residences on Park Avenue, New York City, and Southampton, New York. [6] Staley is a Boston Red Sox fan and a devoted Democrat who holds fundraisers. [9] In the past, he has donated money to the Democratic Senatorial Committee. Staley has also reportedly been a big advocate for diversity since discovering that his brother Peter had been diagnosed with HIV. He helped push the diversity agenda at J.P. Morgan. [31]

As of May 2017, Staley was backing his brother-in-law Jorge Nitzan in a dispute that Aceco, a Brazilian technology company founded by the Nitzan family, have with the private equity firm KKR, also an important client of Barclays. In turn, KKR stopped inviting Barclays to participate in its deal making. [29] [32] [33]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.03316 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 22 October 1786 Pagination: 1 p. : docket 31.5 x 20 cm.

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.03316 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 22 October 1786 Pagination: 1 p. : docket 31.5 x 20 cm.

Writes to introduce Governor Bowdoin to Major [William] North, who is currently Inspector of Troops. Says that North wishes to be included in the line of troops being raised. Comments that he is a citizen of Massachusetts by birth and residence and that he is an honorable and worthy officer.

New York 22 October 1786
[struck: Major North who will deliver this [to me] ]
I beg leave to introduce to your Excellency Major North. [struck: the bearer] He is at present inspector of the troops but is desirous of [struck: entering] of being in the line of the troops about to be raised - He is in every respect worthy of attention, as [struck: an] [inserted and struck: a most] [inserted: an] excellent [struck: and man] [inserted: officer] and a man of honor - He is a citizen of Massachusetts by birth [illegible] and residence and was an officer in that [illegible] Continental troops of that state until the end of the War -
I have the honor to be
Sir with great respect
Your Excellencys most
Obedient humble sert

His Excellency Govr Bowdoin
His Excellency Govnr
Bowdoin 22d Octr
1786 -
Major North

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bowdoin, James

BOWDOIN, JAMES (1726–1790), American political leader, was born of French Huguenot descent, in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 7th of August 1726. He graduated at Harvard in 1745, and was a member of the lower house of the general court of Massachusetts in 1753–1756, and from 1757 to 1774 of the Massachusetts council, in which, according to Governor Thomas Hutchinson, he “was without a rival,” and, on the approach of the War of Independence, was “the principal supporter of the opposition to the government.” From August 1775 until the summer of 1777 he was the president of the council, which had then become to a greater extent than formerly an executive as well as a legislative body. In 1779–1780 he was president of the constitutional convention of Massachusetts, also serving as chairman of the committee by which the draft of the constitution was prepared. Immediately afterward he was a member of a commission appointed “to revise the laws in force in the state to select, abridge, alter and digest them, so as to be accommodated to the present government.” From 1785 to 1787 he was governor of Massachusetts, suppressing with much vigour Shays’ Rebellion, and failing to be re-elected largely because it was believed that he would punish the insurrectionists with more severity than would his competitor, John Hancock. Bowdoin was a member of the state convention which in February 1788 ratified for Massachusetts the Federal Constitution, his son being also a member. He died in Boston on the 6th of November 1790. He took much interest in natural philosophy, and presented various papers before the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of which he was one of the founders and, from 1780 to 1790, the first president. Bowdoin College was named in his honour.

His son, James Bowdoin (1752–1811), was born in Boston on the 22nd of September 1752, graduated at Harvard in 1771, and served, at various times, as a representative, senator and councillor of the state. From 1805 until 1808 he was the minister plenipotentiary of the United States in Spain. He died on Naushon Island, Dukes county, Massachusetts, on the 11th of October 1811. To Bowdoin College he gave land, money and apparatus and he made the college his residuary legatee, bequeathing to it his collection of paintings and drawings, then considered the finest in the country.

James Bowdoin III

Bowdoin was the son of James Bowdoin (1726-1790), later governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts . He graduated from Harvard College in 1771 and then went to England , where he studied law at the University of Oxford for a year . Further trips took him to Italy, Holland and again to England. With the beginning of the American Revolutionary War , he returned to Massachusetts in 1775, but did not take part in the fighting at his father's request. He married Sarah Bowdoin (1761-1826), the daughter of a half-brother of his father, the marriage remained childless. James Bowdoin settled in Dorchester , where he devoted himself to literature and political and administrative duties, including in the direction of Harvard College and as a member of the Assembly , the Massachusetts Senate and the Massachusetts Governor's Council .

Shortly after it was founded in 1794, he donated 1,000 acres and more than 1,100 pounds to Bowdoin College , which is named after his father . In 1811 he transferred 6000 acres of land to the College in Lisbon , Maine , and on his death bequeathed him various writings from a philosophical apparatus and a collection of about 70 valuable paintings.

In 1786 Bowdoin was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . In 1789 he was a delegate for Boston in the Massachusetts Constituent Assembly.

Bowdoin was appointed US ambassador to Spain by Thomas Jefferson in 1804 to negotiate the boundaries of Louisiana Territory and the purchase of Florida . Bowdoin traveled to Europe in 1805, but did not take up his post as ambassador because the negotiations were being held in Paris . Ultimately, the negotiations were broken off and Bowdoin could not fulfill his orders. He stayed in Paris for two years, where he was deputy ambassador and acquired an extensive collection of books, minerals and crystallographic models which he later donated to Bowdoin College. After returning to the United States, he spent the summer months at the family home on Naushon Island , translating a work by Louis Jean-Marie Daubenton on sheep farming .

Bowdoin died in 1811 after a long illness. His grave is on the Granary Burying Ground in Boston. His widow married General Henry Dearborn in 1813 . On her death, she bequeathed an amount of money and a number of precious family portraits to Bowdoin College. A great-nephew, James Bowdoin Winthrop, son of Thomas L. Winthrop , inherited Naushon Island and took the name James Bowdoin.

James Bowdoin Sr (abt. 1676 - 1747)

James Bowdoin, Sr. was born about 1676 in La Rochelle, France and was the son of the French Huguenot refugee Pierre Baudoin.

James, I was married three times. On 18 July 1706 he first married Sarah Campbell (possibly a daughter of John Campbell, postmaster) d.21 Dec 1713 and their children were:

  1. James Bowdoin, Jr. b.5 May 1707 (Massachusetts Governor James Bowdoin, II after whom Bowdoin College is named) d.29 Sep 1707
  2. Elizabeth Bowdoin (twin) b.27 Jun 1708 Boston, MA d.12 Jul 1708
  3. Mary Bowdoin (twin) b.27 Jun 1708 Boston, MA d.21 Jun 1780 m.12 Feb 1729 Bathazar Bayard
  4. John Bowdoin b.22 Aug 1709 d.21 Nov 1711
  5. Pierre Bowdoin b.19 May 1711 d.30 July 1712
  6. William Bowdoin b.14 June 1713 Boston, MA d.24 Feb 1773 m.3 July 1739 to Phoebe Murdoch

In Sep 1714 James married secondly to Hannah Pordage, (daughter of George Pordage) b.13 Feb 1687 d.23 Aug 1734 and their children were:

  1. Samuel Bowdoin b.25 Jul 1715 d.18 Sep 1716
  2. Elizabeth #2 Bowdoin b.25 Apr 1717 d.20 Oct 1771 m.26 Oct 1732 James Pitts
  3. Judith Bowdoin b.5 Mar 1719 m.12 Jun 1744 Thomas Fluker
  4. James #2 Bowdoin, II b.07 Aug 1726 d.06 Nov 1790 m.15 Sep 1748 Elizabeth Erving

On 24 Apr 1735 James married his third wife, Mehitable Lillie, a widow (maiden name unknown).

James Bowdoin of Boston, Esquire, made his will on 7 September 1747 and proved 14 September 1747, in which he made bequests to Rev. Mr. Andrew Le Mercier of the French Church in Boston the poor of the same church Rev. Mr. Samuel Cooper the poor of the town of Boston his sister Elizabeth Robins and her children his sister Mary Boutineau & her children his "present wife" Mehitable, with whom he had a pre-marital contract sons William and James Bowdoin daughters Mary Bayard, Elizabeth Pitts & Judith Flucker children of his daughter Mary Bayard, wife of Belthazer Bayard. He named his son James Bowdoin and sons-in-law James Pitts & Thomas Flucker as executors. Witnesses were Samuel Sewall, William Stoddard, John Tyng and Simeon Stoddard. [1] [2]

James died on Sep 8, 1747 [3] and was buried in the Bowdoin Vault in the Granery Burying Ground, on Tremont Street in Boston, MA. The grave inscription which mentions the "Hon. James Bowdoin, First of that name . " refers to James I who built the Bowden Vault prior to his death. Various family members, including the Governor and probably his father Pierre, were buried together. [4]

Lesson Plans

For a Google doc of this lesson, click here. (Note: You will need to make a copy of the Google doc to edit it.)

This lesson looks at four insurrections that have taken place in U.S. history, which may help your students understand some of the historical context of the January 6th attack on the Capitol building in Washington D.C.

You might also want to have your students research other riots that have taken place in American history, including the NYC Draft Riots and the Tulsa Massacre.

U.S. History, Social Studies, Civics

Estimated Time

One 50-minute class period

Grade Level

To read about previous insurrections in U.S. history and analyze the roles race and class have played.

Starting Off

Watch this NewsHour video , “There’s an ongoing battle of words to describe Jan 6, 2021. Here’s why it matters.” Ask your students what they have heard Wednesday’s events called in the news media? At home? What do they call the events that took place at the Capitol? Was it an insurrection? A coup? Should we call it terrorism? Domestic terrorism? A protest gone awry?

NewsHour’s Christopher Booker spoke to Joanne Freeman, a history professor at Yale University, about why words used to describe the event today will shape its history.

Four Insurrections

Directions: Read about the following insurrections that have taken place in U.S. history. After the mob violence at the Capitol on January 6th, have your students answer this essential question:

How are race and class connected to insurrections in the history of our country?

Shays’ Rebellion, January 1786

Following the American Revolution, taxation was instituted to repay the war debt, and it landed severely on the farmers of Massachusetts. Farmers who could not pay their taxes were losing their property to foreclosures. In September 1786, a small group of those citizens organized protest gatherings across the state. Revolutionary War hero Daniel Shays led these armed rebels and massed at county courts to stop them from processing the seizures of farms.

An engraved illustration of fighting during Shays’ Rebellion of 1786, circa 1850. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A group of protestors calling themselves the “Regulators” stormed the courthouse at Northampton to prevent it from convening. Job Shattuck, a farmer from Groton, led an armed confrontation with tax collectors to prevent them from foreclosing on neighbors. In Uxbridge, a mob even seized confiscated property and returned it to the former owners.

The Massachusetts legislature did not address debt relief. Governor James Bowdoin called up 1,200 members of the state militia, fearing that the Shays groups would attack state buildings. As predicted, 1,500 of Shays’ protesters attacked the federal armory at Springfield and were repelled by the militia, leaving four dead and 20 wounded. The main rebellion was permanently crushed by the militia forces at its camp in the town of Petersham, and most of the Shays leaders were captured.

One result of Shays’ Rebellion was the recognition of the need for a stronger central government, which would inspire the abandonment of the Articles of Confederation in favor of the Constitution. Violence provoked by taxes did not end then, however, and the Whiskey Rebellion over the tax on whiskey, which heavily punished farmers on the western frontier who distilled their grain, followed just five years later.

  • Learn more about Shays’ Rebellion at NPR here.
  • Watch this story about the 1995 Oklahoma City terrorist bombing which references Shays’ Rebellion at NewsHour here.

The Memphis and New Orleans Riots of 1866

The Memphis riot in May of 1866 began with white citizen aggression, especially from policemen, toward commissioned African American soldiers in Memphis. As the Freedmen’s Bureau report on the slaughter of over 90 citizens in a camp of formerly enslaved persons observed:

“The remote cause of the riot as it appears to us is a bitterness of feeling which has always existed between the low whites & blacks, both of whom have long advanced rival claims for superiority, both being as degraded as human beings can possibly be.” — Report of an investigation of the cause, origin and results of the late riots in the city of Memphis made by Col. Charles F. Johnson, et al

Word had gone out that a scuffle had occurred between the Black soldiers and white policemen. After hearing those reports, Union General George Stoneman disarmed the Black soldiers and locked them in their barracks. They could not defend the camp of newly freed people nearby, and a white mob attacked unarmed men, women, children and Northern missionaries and teachers in the camp.

Former Confederates, still stinging from the recent defeat of the Confederacy, were angered by competition for work with former slaves and sought to deny equal political and legal rights to those newly freed.

In July a second riot occurred in New Orleans when a peaceful march of Black men toward the Mechanics Institute was attacked by a white mob, whose feelings were similar to those of the men in Memphis.

The result of these bloody uprisings of former Confederates was the reaction in the Congress that the rights of former slaves needed to be more strenuously protected. The “Radical Republicans” (those determined to ensure equal rights for newly freed Black citizens) then passed a Civil Rights Bill and the 14 th Amendment, guaranteeing citizenship and the right to vote and hold office for those formerly enslaved.

  • Learn more about the 1866 New Orleans riot in this NPR piece .
  • Learn more about the Memphis Riots of 1866 here .

Wilmington Coup D’État of 1898

The Wilmington massacre of 1898 was a mass riot and insurrection carried out by white supremacists in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Thursday, November 10, 1898. It came to be seen as a coup d’état, the violent overthrow of a duly elected government, by a group of white supremacists. Around 2,000 white men were able to overthrow the elected local government. They threw officials out of their offices and destroyed Black businesses, including the only Black newspaper in Wilmington. Up to 300 people were killed. The direct removal and replacement of elected officials by an unelected mob is unique in American history.

Mob posing by the ruins of The Daily Record (Library of Congress)

The role of newspapers in the Wilmington Insurrection is also remarkable. Josephus Daniels published the largest paper in North Carolina, The News and Observer, and he printed fabricated accounts of what he called the “Negro Menace,” including stories and cartoons of Black men attacking white women. He claimed that the Fusion political party would take over North Carolina as a “Black political party,” even though it was composed mainly of white men.

Another North Carolina paper printed a speech from Rebecca Felton, a journalist and future U.S. Senator, who said she would support lynching a Black man every day if it meant protecting white women. Alex Manly, editor of The Daily Record, a Black newspaper, attacked the myth of white women being violated by “big burly Black brutes.” He reminded readers that the rape of powerless Black women by white men was the real problem. “Mrs. Felton must…teach your men purity.”

The Wilmington coup d’état inaugurated an era of severe Jim Crow segregation in the South and the disenfranchisement of African American voters.

  • Learn more about the Wilmington coup d’état at the Atlantic here and with this Vox video here.
  • Listen and watch the WHQR’s videos and podcast coverage here.

Ocoee Riot, November 3, 1920

This text is based on author Zora Neale Hurston’s work, who wrote an account of the massacre for the Works Progress Administration in 1939, which was published by Essence magazine 50 years later.

Many insurrections in the United States were directly caused by vicious racism. In 1921, the largest of these, the Tulsa, Oklahoma Massacre destroyed the most prosperous Black community in the country. Even in smaller towns, like Ocoee, Florida, insurrections killed and devastated Black communities.

On Election Day, November 3, 1920, a riot broke out at Ocoee, Florida, following a disturbance at the polls. Mobs surrounded the Black neighborhoods in town and burned 30 houses and two churches, forcing men, women, and children back into the flames. In all, some 35 Black people were killed.

Julius ‘July’ Perry Ocoee Massacre. Source: University of Florida.

Mose Norman, a prosperous orange grove owner and the town’s most prominent Black citizen, had gone to downtown Ocoee to vote on November 3, 1920, and was harassed by poor whites from Winter Garden who had come to town to threaten the blacks to keep away from the polls. After he was struck and driven off, he drove to Orlando to report what was happening at the polls in Ocoee to a lawyer. The lawyer advised Norman to write down names and details — who were the whites interfering with the vote? Which Black people had been denied their vote? Norman went back to Ocoee to observe the polling site.

Mose Norman happened to have a shotgun under the seat of his car, which he kept for hunting and never touched that day. Some of the disorderly whites from Winter Garden found it there, and they beat him up. Other black men were assaulted, one was allegedly castrated, and Black churches were torched. At this point, many Black residents of Ocoee decided to flee the town or hide. Some hid in barns and under their houses.

Someone told the unruly mob that Mose Norman was holed up on July Perry’s farm actually, Norman had left Ocoee altogether. The mob headed toward the Perry place. The Perrys’ sons and neighbors were hiding in the surrounding groves, but Perry himself, his wife and his daughter stayed in the house. Perry held his high-powered rifle ready to defend his family. When the mob rushed his house, Perry fired the rifle and killed two white men.

Eventually the rioters lynched July Perry, dragging him to his death behind an automobile, and left his body hanging on a telephone pole. They set fire to the entire black community of Ocoee and shot and burned to death an untold total of black residents. The conflict spread to Orlando, Apopka and Winter Garden itself. For many succeeding decades, Black families were not permitted to live in Ocoee, and for many more, they chose not to.

  • Read the Orlando Sentinel’s report on the Ocoee riot here and Zinn Education Project’s article here.

Protests at UC Berkeley, Free Speech Movement 1965

On Dec. 2, 1965, between 1,500 and 4,000 students at the Berkeley campus of the University of California rushed into Sproul Hall and took it over, claiming that the administration of the university had restricted students’ rights to free speech at campus rallies. Some students had been singled out for harsher discipline than others.
It was not a violent mob act. The students sat in the hallways of the building, studying, talking, and even singing folk songs with Joan Baez. “Freedom classes” were given by teaching assistants on one floor, and a special Chanukah service was held for Jewish students in the main lobby.

Outside on the steps of Sproul Hall, leader Mario Savio gave a famous speech:

“… But we’re a bunch of raw materials that don’t mean to be — have any process upon us. Don’t mean to be made into any product! Don’t mean — Don’t mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We’re human beings! … There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious — makes you so sick at heart — that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of UC Berkeley, The Bancroft Library. Group carrying “Free Speech” banner through Sather Gate [ca. 1965].

Eventually the University officials backed down. New rules were made for the free speech of students. The Sproul Hall steps were designated an open discussion area during certain hours of the day. The Free Speech Movement fostered open protest for students and others opposed to U.S. foreign policy the FSM was followed by the Vietnam Day Committee, a major starting point for the anti-Vietnam war movement.

  • Listen to NPR’s piece on UC Berkeley’s free speech movement here and read NewsHour’s article here.

Syd Golston is a past president of the National Council for the Social Studies. She has served as a history teacher, school administrator and curriculum writer for many decades. She is the author of Changing Woman of the Apache, Death Penalty, Studies in Arizona History, and other publications and articles.

James Bowdoin

James Bowdoin II ( / ˈ b oʊ d ɪ n / August 7, 1726 – November 6, 1790) was an American politician and educator. He was an important person during the American Revolution.

From 1775 to 1777, he was president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress' executive council, the de facto head of the Massachusetts government. He was elected president of the constitutional convention that drafted the state's constitution in 1779.

He ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Massachusetts in 1780, losing to John Hancock. In 1785, after Hancock's resignation, he was elected governor. He lost his re-election in the 1787 election to Hancock.

Bowdoin worked with Benjamin Franklin in his research on electricity. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and was a founder and first president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Bowdoin College in Maine was named in his honor.

He died from problems caused by dysentery. [1] Bowdoin's funeral was one of the largest of the time in Boston, with people lining the streets to view the funeral procession. [2]

Bowdoin, James - History

From James Bowdoin. Common wealth of Massachusetts, A Proclamation. Boston: Adams and Nourse, 1786.

Whereas information has been given to the Supreme Executive of this Commonwealth, that on Tuesday last, the 29th of August, being the day appointed by law for the fitting of the Court of Common Pleas and Court of General Sessions of the Peace, at Northampton, in the country of Hampshire, within this Commonwealth, a large concourse of people, from several parts of that county, assembled at the Court-House in Northampton, many of whom were armed with guns, swords, and other deadly weapons, and with drums beating and sises playing, in contempt and open defiance of the authority of this Government, did, by their threats of violence and keeping possession of the Court-House until twelve o'clock on the night of the same day, prevent the sitting of the Court, and the orderly administration of justice in that county:

And whereas this high handed offense is fraught with the most fatal and pernicious consequences, must tend to subvert all law and government to dissolve our excellent Constitution, and introduce universal riot, anarchy, and confusion, which would probably terminate in absolute despotism, and consequently destroy the fairest prospects of political happiness, that nay people was ever favoured with and which this people will realize, if they do not suffer themselves to be misguided by the machinations of internal real enemies, who treacherously assume the character of their best and most zealous friends:

I have therefore thought fit, by and with the advice of the Council, to issue this Proclamation, calling upon all Judges, Justices, Sheriffs, Grand-Jurors, Constables, and other officers, civil and military, within this Commonwealth, to prevent and suppress all such violent and riotous proceedings, if they should be attempted in their several counties.

And I do hereby, pursuant to the indispensable duty I owe to the good people of this Commonwealth, most solemnly call upon them, as they value the blessings of freedom and independence, which at the expense of so much blood and treasure they have purchased-as they regard their faith, which in the fight of God and the world, they pledged to one another, and to the people of the United States, when they adopted the present Constitution of Government-as they would not disappoint the hopes, and thereby become contemptible in the eyes of other nations, in the view of whom they have risen to glory and empire-as they would not deprive themselves of the security derived from well-regulated Society, to their lives, liberties and property and as they would not devolve upon their children, instead of peace, freedom and safety, a state of anarchy, confusion and slavery,--I do most earnestly and most solemnly call upon them to aid and assist with their utmost efforts the aforesaid officers, and to unite in preventing and suppressing all such treasonable proceedings, and every measure has been a tendency to encourage them. And the Attorney-General is hereby directed to prosecute and bring to condign punishment the Ringleaders and Abettors of the aforesaid atrocious violation of law and government and also the Ringleaders and Abettors of any similar violation in the future, whensoever or wheresoever it shall be perpetrated within this Commonwealth.

given at the COUNCIL-CHAMBER, in Boston, this second day of September, in the year of our Lord, one thousand hundred and eighty-six, and in the eleventh year of the Independence of the United States of America.

Bowdoin, James - History

Lebanese culture and traditions, Maine congressional campaign (1994), Maine Democratic Party, Maine gubernatorial campaign (1974), Maine politics, Mitchell family, Waterville (Me.)


Biographical Note
James F. “Jim” Mitchell was born on January 4, 1961, in Waterville, Maine, to Robert and Janet Mitchell. Mitchell worked as a teacher and coach in Ellsworth, Maine, and volunteered to work on local legislative races he also worked on Ken Hayes’s congressional campaign against Olympia Snowe in 1988. He served as the Democratic state chairman during the Clinton administration in 1994, he resigned as state chairman to run for Congress. Jim Mitchell is a nephew of George Mitchell. At the time of this interview, Jim was a lobbyist in Augusta, Maine, and remained active in politics.

Interview includes discussion of: Waterville, Maine, in the 1960s George and Mintaha Mitchell Lebanese community in Waterville Jim’s involvement in George Mitchell’s political campaigns Ken Hayes’s congressional campaign Jim Mitchell’s run for Congress President Clinton’s inauguration genuineness in politics and Lebanese food.


This recording and transcription are © 2011 Bowdoin College and are presented for private study, scholarship, or research only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction, and quotation beyond “fair use” (Title 17, United States Code) permission must be obtained in writing from the George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421, USA.

Andrea L’Hommedieu: This is an interview for the George J. Mitchell Oral History Project at Bowdoin College. The date is December 7, 2009, this is Andrea L’Hommedieu, and today I’m in Augusta, Maine, at 106 Soule Street, interviewing Jim F. Mitchell. And Jim, could you start just by giving me your full name. I know there are a couple well known Jim Mitchells in Maine.

Jim Mitchell: My name is James F. Mitchell.

AL: And where and when were you born?

JM: I was born January 4, 1961, in Waterville, Maine. My parents are Robert and Janet Mitchell I’m the sixth of seven children.

AL: Oh, there are seven children in the family.

JM: Seven for Robbie and Janet, that’s right. My oldest brother is Robert Edward Mitchell, Jr., and Bobby and his family still live in Waterville and then my sister Ann, who works with me, and she also still lives in Waterville then Carol and Mary, Peter, myself, and then our youngest brother Joe, who lives in Belfast, Maine.

AL: Oh, wow. And talk about Waterville, Maine, when you were growing up.

JM: Well, when I was growing up, back in the, really the ‘60s and the ‘70s, Waterville was a tremendous community to be in. There was a, for Maine, a great diversity of people there, because you had a very vibrant mill economy, with the Keyes Fibre facility, the Wyandotte woolen mill, Scott over in Winslow, so there was a very strong manufacturing economy in Waterville. And of course there’d been a lot of woolen mills in the area that had brought many of the Lebanese immigrants to that area, to work in those woolen mills.

But in addition of course, you had Colby and Thomas [Colleges], so there was an intellectual community that was quite strong in the area. You had a very strong downtown when I was kid growing up, with Levine’s and Stern’s and Dunham’s and all these stores, and it was a major, major shopping area for the region. And so it was a busy place but it was also in many ways an idyllic, wonderful place to grow up. A lot of great friends I made when I was growing up there, good schools, a lot of good people.

AL: What did you do for social activities outside of school?

JM: Well, I was always very active in athletics, as a boy growing up, and the Boys’ Club was a big part of the sports scene in Waterville, with soccer in the fall and then later on Pop Warner football as I got older, and then basketball in the winter. My brothers all played baseball, I wasn’t too interested in it myself, but sports was a big part of my life growing up, and my family life. And then in addition there were a lot of people in the area with whom my family socialized both in the Lebanese community and outside, so there was a great big network of friends, but of course we also had many, many family members that were still in Waterville. And so our family life revolved around not only our brothers and sisters, but our cousins and our aunts and uncles, and of course our grandparents.

AL: Can you talk about your grandparents a little bit? You were the youngest of the seven, or no, you were the sixth.

JM: Second youngest, I’m the sixth. Well our grandparents on my father’s side, George and Mintaha [Mary] Mitchell lived at the same house at 94 Front Street for many, many years, from the time my father was a boy growing up there until really my grandmother finally, in ill health, had to move out, and first lived with her sister Barbara and then later on in a nursing home, so they were there for several decades. But that home was really a central part of our growing up, because it was a very close knit family. Their son Paul ran an insurance agency in Waterville and had settled there after having lived in New York for a while, and then Massachusetts, he moved back and was involved in an insurance company My Uncle John was a well known teacher and coach in Waterville, his spouse Prin, and they had three daughters. Paul and Yvette had a daughter and three sons. And then my family, Robbie and Janet, we lived, my mother’s still in our family home at 13 Lord Road in Waterville, they had seven children. And then George and Sally of course had a daughter, Andrea, and they lived of course outside Waterville – they were in South Portland – and so we didn’t see them very much.

But Paul’s family, Johnnie’s family, our family, we spent a lot of time with one another, principally because the cousins were relatively close in age. You had my oldest cousin, Paul, Jr., who’s essentially, let’s see, Paul would be eight years older than I am, and my youngest cousin Andrea would be, let’s see, Andrea is seven years younger than I am, actually no, five years younger than I am, so the age range is quite close, my brother Joe being the youngest of the original set of cousins really. So in age range it was quite close, we spent a lot of time with our cousins. Many of us went to the local parochial school St. Joseph’s was affiliated with the Maronite Church in Waterville. I only went a couple years, by my older brothers and sisters all graduated from there, through my sister Mary, who’s the sister closest to me in age.

AL: So you said even when you were growing up, another generation later than your parents, the Lebanese community was still close?

JM: Oh yes, oh, it was a big part of our growing up. Because there is a fairly substantial Lebanese community in Waterville, as you’re aware. It was larger I think at that time than it is today, because many people in my generation of course moved out of Waterville. But at the time, we had our own church, there was a school that was associated with the church, many of the children of the Lebanese Maronites attended that school. There’s also another whole sort of branch of Lebanese immigrants who are not Maronites, but had settled in Waterville. So, for example, the Nawfels are a good example, a large, well known family in Waterville of dentists and lawyers and doctors. They’re not part of the Maronite community but they were Lebanese immigrants who had settled in the area, they’re actually Greek Orthodox, and there was a big connection.

And I think much of it did revolve around the church, but it was also just I think people who had been connected through family relations in that neighborhood, their children and their children’s children knew one another, socialized to some degree. And so there were these strong connections for a long, long time, really up and through the time I graduated from high school, I had connections with many of those families, the Jabars, the Nawfels, the Carters, many of them in the region, and of course I still see many of them today.

AL: And can you talk a little bit about your grandmother, describe her. And did you know, you knew your grandfather somewhat?

JM: I did, but I was a boy really when my grandfather passed away. My grandfather George passed away in 1972, so I was only twelve years old at the time. So he did die as a fairly young man, I think he would have been seventy-two then. So while I knew him as a young boy, I didn’t know him as a maturing young man, I knew him really as a child. And my impression of him is fairly limited. He was a good man, he spent some time with his grandchildren, but he wasn’t particularly effusive about showing affection or anything like that.

My grandmother, Sittoo, on the other hand, she was really kind of the center of that household. And she was, I think probably because of her personality and her energy and her enthusiasm for all of her family members, we spent a lot of time with her. Even as a very young boy, my mother taught school when I was a child, so my first year of school I spent every afternoon after school at my grandmother’s house. The bus would drop me off there, and Sittoo would be there with something to eat of course, and spend some time asking me questions about what I’d done at school and all that sort of thing. And all my brothers and sisters and cousins spent a lot of time at Sittoo’s house.

She’s a very strong woman she’d been through a lot. Of course she had come to this country really as a young woman, and so she had made her way in the world through really hard work and dedication to her family. She worked in woolen mills most of her life, but she was a very loving, kind person, who spent a fair amount of time with her grandchildren.

She loved my sister Mary quite a bit, because Mary tried to teach her how to read, when she was an old woman. Now, my grandmother was an educated Lebanese woman so she read Arabic, and in fact had the Lebanese newspaper delivered to her house, and other members of the Lebanese community came to Sittoo’s house to have her read things to them that came in Arabic, so she did read Arabic, but she never learned to read English. And so she called Mary ‘professor,’ and my sister Mary, who is just a few years older than I, spent some time trying to teach my grandmother to read English for a period of time, but I think that was slow going. Of course, when you’re in your sixties and seventies, it’s a hard thing to learn a whole new language.

But Sittoo of course had done a lot for a lot of people, she was well liked in the Lebanese community that was in the area of Front Street and very popular, I think had a lot of friends who spent time with her and with Jiddoo. I’m always curious as an older individual, how Jiddoo was accepted. Of course, he was an Irishman, and the rest of them were Lebanese from Lebanon, and he was an Irishman who spoke Arabic, because of course he’d been adopted by Lebanese parents, older parents who, after he was orphaned, so he probably had a little bit different perspective on the whole community than those who’d immigrated directly from Lebanon.

AL: And talk to me about when you first were involved with your Uncle George’s political aspirations. And I’m thinking of campaigns, the ‘74 campaign, so it would probably be the year earlier?

JM: Yeah, believe it or not, most of us nieces and nephews to George were recruited, some willingly, some unwillingly, to work on his ‘74 gubernatorial campaign. I think it was an exciting time for us as kids. I was just a little boy I think at the time, in eighth grade, you know, just starting to understand politics and what it meant to be involved in politics. I had a course, I had occasion to meet some, what I would view as pretty important people in Maine politics at the time, Ed Muskie had come to our, my childhood home on several occasions, of course George had worked for him as a staffer, and Ken Curtis had been there.

My folks were active in politics, even though my father was a federal employee. He was careful never to be directly involved, but my mother was active, as a school teacher, and they had a whole host of friends who were very, very active in supporting Ed Muskie. And so we were connected to politics all through our lives. And then when George decided to run for governor, we were a little army of envelope lickers and stamp lickers to help him in his initial effort. And of course his sister Barbara was married to Eddie Atkins, who was a prominent business person in Waterville, had been a long-time Ed Muskie booster and backer, and in fact his print shop, Atkins, I now own half of Atkins with my brother Peter, bought it from Eddie’s son from his first marriage.

Eddie was a very, very important part of Ed Muskie’s early political success, as his, that was Ed Muskie’s print shop, Atkins Printing. So that print shop became sort of central part of George Mitchell’s gubernatorial campaign. We spent a lot of time down there, putting printed materials together, getting them out in the mail to supporters, we canvassed a lot of streets, the nieces and nephews did – I’m trying to remember the various people who were involved in that gubernatorial campaign, it was so long ago. Oh, Bruce Chandler, Bruce and Nancy Chandler were very, very active, they were from China, Bruce later became of course a state judge, but he was a very prominent Democrat, active in that campaign. Joe [B.] Ezhaya, who’d run for political office several times from Waterville. My cousin Susan actually, Michael Ferris, a lot of the people in the Waterville area, very active in that campaign.

And of course the nieces and nephews, we were recruited to do some of the grunt work, which was not unusual in those days. It was a lot more labor intensive, politics was, back in those days. But it was a very good, early introduction to Maine politics, and I was one of the nieces and nephews that sort of fell in love with it then and kept active in it almost my whole life, I’ve kept active in politics, through high school and college, when I went away I obviously was as active as I could be as an outsider, in Illinois and then in Massachusetts, and then when I came back to Maine, got very, very active again in political campaigns when I moved back to Maine.

AL: And what year was that?

JM: We moved back in ‘86-‘87, and then I was actually a teacher and coach in Ellsworth, Maine, and began getting involved in local legislative races as a volunteer. And then in 1988, the chairman of the Maine Democratic Party was an acquaintance that I had met. He encouraged me, after I applied for a position with the party, to work on a congressional campaign for a professor from the university, Ken Hayes,God rest his soul, he was a delightful man he passed away several years ago. He was running for Congress against a very formidable opponent, Congresswoman Olympia Snowe.

AL: Was that in -

JM: ‘Eighty-eight.

AL: Yes, because I was at the University of Maine at that time, and Ken Hayes was one of my professors.

JM: Oh really? Well Ken’s just a delightful man, as you know, was a delightful man, and he had served in the state Senate, and in fact had been a professor to now Senator Snowe, when Olympia was at the University of Maine, she had been one of Ken’s students. And Ken and I and a couple of other people ran his campaign, I think we raised about $87,000. I had early in my professional career been in advertising out in Chicago, so I actually wrote and produced the television ads that we ran.

We produced them at WABI-TV, and we had one that sort of got a little bit of traction, that Congresswoman Snowe didn’t much like, and we had Gary Merrill, the actor, doing our voice over on the spots, and Gary had a great voice, very penetrating. So we had, as I said, about $87,000 to run the whole campaign, and that year one of the rising Republicans was opposing Joe Brennan in his congressional seat, a guy named Ted O’Meara, who’s a terrific friend now and a very good political person. Ted got about thirty-eight percent of the vote in the general election, was viewed as a rising star. Well Ken got thirty-seven percent, and we had a lot less money than Ted.

So we didn’t do too badly, had a lot of fun, I learned a lot from Ken, learned a lot in that campaign. And then after that campaign I decided I wanted to work very hard to try to change how the state party assisted in elections, and so I got much more involved in the state party organization and apparatus, and then later on ran for state chairman, and was elected as state chair actually when Bill Clinton was elected president. So I was the Democratic state chairman at the time that Clinton was inaugurated.

AL: Okay, and so how long did you serve in that capacity?

JM: I was there for about a year-and-a-half, because much to my surprise, and the surprise of many others, Senator George J. Mitchell decided not to seek reelection, and because he didn’t decide to seek reelection in 1994, I resigned from my position as state chairman to run for Congress. But while I was chairman, I had a fair amount of interaction with Senator Mitchell because, of course, one of my principal jobs was to raise money for the state party. Well, it doesn’t hurt to have the majority leader of the United States Senate as one of your two United States senators, so I regularly went to Washington to ask for his assistance.

I think the Senator was always extremely careful about not overdoing it with the fund-raising. He obviously had an obligation to raise funds for the members of his caucus for his own reelection campaign, and for the state party. He was one of the elected leaders in Maine Democratic politics who was always very concerned with the strength of the party some of that was because of his own history. Of course he’d served as a chairman for the Maine Democratic Party, and had a real interest in seeing the organization strengthened as a critical part of how to advance the cause of the Democratic Party.

So he was very generous with his time and effort, but I went on a number of occasions for fund raisers down to D.C., and he was helpful, we had a fund raiser down there that I worked with. And I think by and large we raised at that time I think more money than the state party had raised in probably a decade. We had a fair amount of success and were able to retire some old debts and put some new programs in place, and I think helped a number of Democrats both at the legislative level as well as those seeking higher office. So it was a pretty good success.

And of course when Bill Clinton was inaugurated, George was the majority leader, and so that offered great opportunity for Maine politicos like me to have front row seats, if you will, for the inauguration. And that was quite a thrill. My then spouse and I traveled down, with a number of other people from Maine, and were very much part of that inauguration of President Clinton.

AL: Tell me about that experience, what was it like?

JM: Well, it was great actually, we had tremendous seats behind the president that the majority leader had set up for us and a number of other people, and so we weren’t very far from where the president was sworn in. And they had a great reception for people from Maine that the majority leader had organized in a very ornate room in the Senate, in the Capitol. And interestingly enough, after the inauguration, my former spouse, she was then my spouse, and I, and Patrick McGowan, who had been a leading Democrat for a number of years, had of course served in the legislature and then ran for Congress and almost beat Olympia Snowe, in 1990 and again in 1992, losing by really just a handful of votes. Patrick was then looking around for his next political move he later became regional director of the Small Business Administration with the Senator’s help.

But Patrick and his spouse and my spouse and I were sitting in the majority leader’s inner office, after the inauguration. And of course the Senate has to confirm some critical part of the president’s Cabinet that day, the day that he’s inaugurated. And we’re in there and we’re watching the parade, and believe it or not, I was so arrogant as to have thought it was okay for me to sit in George’s seat at his desk while we watched TV, McGowan, McGowan’s spouse, my spouse, and I had my feet up on George’s desk. In walks the majority leader with Warren Christopher, the future secretary of state, in tow. Well I came out of, and George says to me, without missing a beat, “Jimmy, do you mind if I use my office?” Well I came out of that seat like there was a cattle prod under me, jumped up as rapidly as I could, and we shook hands with Mr. Christopher, and George introduced us all, and then we scurried out of there embarrassed and ashamed that we thought we were big shots, sitting in his office. But that was a good anecdote, and kind of fun.

But the thrill of seeing the inauguration up close and having an opportunity to see what was an enormous change that our country was undergoing at the time was really unforgettable. I had an opportunity, when President Obama was elected, to go to his inauguration, and I decided not to go, a) because it’s really quite a hassle to go down there, but b) I didn’t think I could ever have the experience with President’s Clinton’s inaugural talk, and so I just thought, one’s enough, other people ought to deserve to go, and I gave my tickets up to some friends who were thrilled to go. But it was a great experience, it really was.

AL: And tell me about your run for Congress, this happened in ‘94, was it the -

JM: ‘Ninety-four, yeah.

AL: Was it when Olympia went to run for the Senate, and her seat opened?

JM: Right, of course, yeah. So Senator Mitchell of course decided that he’d had enough and was moving on, and so with that change, that whole domino effect occurred and a number of people in that year decided that they would run. Of course that meant Tom Andrews, the 1st District congressman, decided to run for the United States Senate, his seat opened up, Olympia Snowe decided to leave her 2nd District seat, her seat opened up, so on both the Republican and Democratic side there were very intense primaries.

And I was in what I believe was an eight- or seven-person primary with the now governor of the state of Maine, John Elias Baldacci, who’s also a cousin of mine. He’s a distant cousin. People say that, talk about us as cousins, but the reality is John’s grandmother and my grandmother were sisters. So if you think about in your own life, if you can name the grandchildren of your grandmother’s sister, it’s not easy. So it’s not like he’s a first cousin, but nevertheless, he’s a family member that I’d known since I was a boy. We were in the Democratic primary together, and fortunately for the citizens, they chose wisely and nominated John Baldacci in the 2nd District, not me.

John ran a great campaign, so it was myself, John, Mary Cathcart, who was a sitting state Senator at the time, Janet Mills, who’s now the state’s attorney general, she was in the race, Jim Howaniec, who was the mayor of Lewiston, ran a strong campaign as well. Then there were a couple of candidates who have, or one candidate’s been a perennial candidate since then, Jean Hay Bright, she’s run for office on a number of occasions, and there was a young man from Downeast Maine, Shawn Hallisey, who had his own set of problems and issues.

But anyways, it was a vigorous campaign. Short, it was very short, because of course the primary in Maine is held in June, and George stepped down from his seat in March, it was late February or early March when he stepped down, if I’m not mistaken. In fact, it was quite a snow and rain storm the day that his announcement became public. I think he had traveled back to see his staff in Maine, to let them know that he wasn’t going to seek reelection, and I had an interview on WABI because I was then sitting state chairman of the Maine Democratic Party. So I went over there in quite a snowstorm, to have an interview.

And I had pretty much decided that I had wanted to seek higher office coming out of my tenure as campaign manager for Ken Hayes, and then as state chairman, and even though I thought it probably a pretty almost hopeless task to try to take on Olympia Snowe, I saw that as an opportunity that I ought to pursue in 1994, because it was an open seat. I had looked at ‘96 as a more likely time to run against Congresswoman Snowe, but circumstances changed and so I thought it was a good opportunity so I did it. I think in hindsight, it was quite presumptuous of me to even seek the nomination. I don’t think I really had sufficient political experience to do it, and I think as I said, though somewhat in jest, I think really, truly, the voters did make the right choice, Congressman Baldacci turned out to be a very effective congressman, and in my own view has turned out to be a terrific governor. And so things have worked out for the best I think for Maine and for me personally.

AL: I have sort of a broad question to ask you. You saw your uncle in different political situations over many years, did you see him hone or develop his skills or, give me a sense of that?

JM: Well to be honest, I think my view on that, or my opinion, is colored so much by those who were so long involved with him. Let me give you an example. Charlie Micoleau is a lawyer in Portland, and of course was George’s executive director when George was state chairman, and later became a strong supporter of George’s 1974, and was also active in Ed Muskie’s campaign, served as Ed Muskie’s administrative assistant in fact, in Washington.

Charlie and I were in business together for a while, and so he talked a lot about how George had evolved as a campaigner. And so as a boy, I wouldn’t know if he was good at it or not in 1974. Certainly I saw between my early observations of him as a public speaker, and my observations in the last few years. I view him as a much more powerful public speaker, even today, than he was back in the early ‘80s, when I was in college. He ran for election of course in 1982, after he had been appointed. I was still in college at the time, but came back to Maine periodically and saw him speak, and I think there’s a world of difference between the speeches he gave in 1982 and the speeches he gave in 1992. He clearly was a much more forceful, confident communicator in the ‘90s than he was in the ‘80s.

I have been a lifelong student of politics, it’s always been a passion of mine, I’ve been fortunate to have made a living tangentially connected to politics, and so I view myself, again perhaps with a little bit of conceit, as a good judge of political people and as a student of politics, and I’d say in my view he really did evolve into a much more effective, interesting communicator. The same is the case I think with most people who occupy high office for any period of time, the governor being a great example. I don’t think anybody would accuse John Baldacci of being a particularly effective public speaker when he first ran for governor. Today, on the other hand, I think when he delivers the State of the State, people have a sense of his confidence, his views, his vision, and his ability to communicate that information in a down-to-earth, genuine way, that’s honest and believable, and I think that’s the key thing.

Interestingly, in 1994, when I was running for Congress, I of course had met Senator Muskie on a number of occasions, and I went to Washington for some fund-raising for my campaign and Senator Muskie was kind enough to visit with me at his office, at the law firm that he was with. It was a beautiful office, and the publication, The United States’ One Hundred Greatest Senators had recently come out, I think in 1993 or ‘92, and Senator Muskie’s in that book, as you may know. And he was very proud of that, and he showed it to me and we were talking about politics in Maine, and he was giving me some advice and he told me a great story.

He said in 1968 he’d been Hubert H. Humphrey’s vice presidential partner in the presidential race of ‘68, and Muskie had gone to Independence, Missouri, to see Harry Truman, to ask for his advice. This was very early in the campaign, and Truman must have been, gosh, in his nineties at the time, if I’m not mistaken. I can’t remember how old Harry Truman was when he died, but he was quite an old man. Muskie goes to see him in Independence. And Muskie said to me, “I’m going to give you some advice, young man,” speaking to me, he said, “I’m going to tell you what Harry Truman told me. And he said to me, Ed, “Two things I’m going to tell you: tell the truth, and be yourself.” And Muskie says to me, he says, “Now that sounds like simple advice, but when you think about it, there’s a lot of depth to that advice. Because if you are really being yourself, and you’re true to yourself, sometimes in politics, telling the truth is hard, because you might not get the votes you want.” “But,” he said, “that was the best advice I’d ever received.” So he turns to me and he smiles and he says, “So I’ll tell you, Jim, be yourself, and tell the truth.” And with that the meeting broke up and I left.

So I thought it was great advice, because if there is a certain death now to anybody in politics, it’s those who aren’t genuine. I’ve observed that more and more as I got older and have followed politics, and it’s been a delightful game to be part of. But I think being genuine is probably the most important thing in politics, even though many in the public and the pundits are always decrying how politicians are phony and fake. I think those who are really effective at it, are not, and they develop trust and rapport with their colleagues in order to get things done. And I think if there was a hallmark of George Mitchell, it’s that he was genuine and trusted by both sides. And I think that’s in many ways why he had the kind of successful career that he did.

AL: And now today, do you continue to be involved in politics actively?

JM: Oh yes, yeah, yeah, in two ways really. Many of the people who are in state government are friends of mine and I’ve worked with them for a long time, the governor for example, I’m very close to and I helped him in his election effort and his reelection, I spent a lot of time volunteering on his campaign. I’m active, very active with the state legislative races, and some of that of course is professional, I’m a lobbyist and so I spend a fair amount of my time interacting with these people. I never get paid for my political advice anymore, it wouldn’t be appropriate, but I do spend an awful lot of time giving advice to the Democratic caucuses and the Democratic leadership about how best to move forward on their efforts to maintain their majority at the State House. I’ve enjoyed that very much, I hope that I have a good reputation with the members of the Democratic leadership, and it’s one that, it’s an activity that I very, very much enjoy, because I can be involved in it without being a candidate.

My experience as a candidate, while educational, is not one I’d repeat. There are some people who are cut out for it I clearly am not one of them. You got to have really a tough, thick skin, and you have to have the ability to change from being very careful and clear in your communication to being able to communicate in an almost simplistic manner with people who aren’t as informed on the issue. And so that variability, and that patience that you have to have to switch between the various types of audience that you need to appeal to, it’s just not something that I’m particularly good at. As an advisor, as a strategist, I think I’m all right, and I’ve enjoyed it very much and will continue to do so for quite some time, I hope. But my interest in seeking or holding elective office myself is less than zero.

AL: I want to switch gears a little bit and ask you about some of the traditional foods that your grandmother made, or your family made. I know probably, if I recall, like your mom learned to make some of those dishes as well, bringing up you kids?

JM: Sure, oh yes, absolutely. Well, my mother and father lived with my grandmother for a while when they were first married. My father was in the Marine Corps, and when he came back to Maine after leaving the Marine Corps I think, and my sister Ann can confirm this, I think they lived with my grandparents on Front Street for several months, and at the time, my grandmother taught my mother a lot of the dishes.

We ate Lebanese food, as a boy growing up, I’d say at least once if not twice a week, so kibbeh, cabbage rolls, zatr, loubia, all kinds of different dishes my mother learned to make, and taught us kids how to make them. I still make Lebanese food for my children, I make zatr and loubia, and occasionally I made kibbeh, though my kibbeh’s not very good, but all of those dishes were very much a part of our growing up. Sittoo often, not often, always at holidays had Lebanese food, along with the Christmas turkey or the Easter ham, there was always Lebanese food served at her house on the holidays, and that was a big part of growing up.

She made her own bread often, when we were children growing up, and that was always a great thrill to go into what they called the summer kitchen, which was a kitchen attached to the other kitchen, where she baked her bread. And she bought flour not by the bag full you get at the grocery store, but by the sack full, and would make all this bread, and would throw it in the air and bake it in the oven. Ultimately, as she got older, she stopped doing so much baking, but that was quite a thrill, when you were a boy, to go down there and get Lebanese bread fresh out of the oven, still steaming hot.

My mother made all kinds of different Lebanese dishes, and so did her sisters-in-law, Yvette and Prin, both girls who grew up in the Waterville area and married Mitchell boys, they learned how to make Lebanese food, and all of them made it. So when I went to my cousins’ house there was often Lebanese food there being served, even though those who made it were not Lebanese, they were taught by Sittoo to make it for their spouses, and they spent a lot of time working on making good Lebanese food. So that was a big part of our growing up actually, the food.

The kids always ask for it, my kids, when they come home, for me to make Lebanese food, and my mother, their grandmother, often makes it at holidays as well. So it’s a big part of our family life, food, as it is for many ethnic people.

AL: Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you think is important to add?

JM: Well, I’d say that one thing I’d add which I believe is important is, politics is a tough business. And those who get into it, while many see their motivation as selfish and narrow, the people I’ve run across in politics have almost always done it out of interest to serve their community, their region, their state, and on a few occasions, people I’ve met, their nation. And I hope that the tenor of political discourse will change so that people will have a better sense of how many sacrifices these people make. And I would say for most political people, they often sacrifice their family life, but without a strong family to start out it’s very, very hard to be involved in politics.

So I’d say that the strength of our family, and me as a boy growing up, and I’m willing to bet George as a boy growing up and as a young man, the strength of his family was a very crucial component of who he became as a man, and what that’s meant for his ability to be a leader in our society and around the world.

Watch the video: Bowdoin Winter 2014 (August 2022).