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Stoking the Embers of War

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Portland Neck: The Hanging of Thomas Bird

About the author:
Jerry Genesio is also the author of "Portland Neck: The Hanging of Thomas Bird", a historical account of the first death sentence handed down by a U.S. District Court under the authority of the U.S. Constitution. The execution took place at Bramhall Hill in Portland, Maine, on June 25, 1790.

He has a B.A. degree in History, summa cum laude, from the University of Southern Maine, and was employed as a Maine Historian and Special Collections Assistant at the Portland Public Library, retiring in 2003. He resides, with his wife, Judy, in Bridgton, Maine.

Stoking the Embers of War

Authored by Jerry Genesio

Stoking the Embers of War is a historical novel set in Portland, District of Maine, Massachusetts, 1789-90. The Treaty of Paris, which officially ended the American Revolutionary War, was signed less than seven years earlier, in 1783, and though all that remained of the war’s inferno was little more than smoldering embers in the memories of those who survived, passions ignited by the conflict still ran thick and hot through the veins of the wounded. The people of Falmouth Neck saw their homes burned to the ground at the very outset of hostilities, and a contingent of Falmouth militiamen participated in the Penobscot Expedition, which resulted in one of the worst disaster in U.S. Naval history. In 1786, the people who lived on the Neck split off from Falmouth and incorporated the town of Portland, but the District of Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1820. On July 21, 1789, an unregistered English sloop was captured while anchored at Cape Porpoise and impounded at Portland the next day. There were four individuals on the vessel when it was taken: Josiah Jackson of Newton, Massachusetts; Thomas Bird of Abbots Leigh, England; Hans Hanson of the Kingdom of Norway; and an African boy known only as Cuffey. Jackson, Bird, and Hanson were examined before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which was then seated at Portland. It was determined that their ship was the Mary, an English slave trader, and that its rightful master, Captain John Connor of London, England, had been murdered and thrown overboard off the coast of Africa six months earlier. Josiah Jackson, the American, was immediately released; Hans Hanson, the Norwegian, was tried for aiding and abetting in the crime, but was acquitted. Thomas Bird, the Englishman, was tried for the piratical murder of Captain Connor, and was convicted; the only person held accountable for the crime. On June 25, 1790, he was escorted to the gallows on Portland’s Bramhall Hill by U.S. Marshal Henry Dearborn who would later be appointed U.S. Secretary of War by President Thomas Jefferson. The story is narrated by Jeremy Haggett, a Boston newspaper reporter whose brother, Lewis Haggett, was a U.S. Continental Marine killed in action at Bagaduce during the Penobscot Expedition. The Haggett brothers are the only fictional characters in the book.

Publication Date:
1463544391 / 9781463544393
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6" x 9"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Fiction / Historical / General

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