2016-05-20 / Community

A Window on the Past

Portland Rum Riot is topic of lecture
By Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society


A stereoview card showing an image of the old City Hall building in Market Square (now known as Monument Square) in Portland, where crowds grew and violence broke out in 1855. Historian Herb Adams will present a lecture about the Portland Rum Riot at the South Portland Historical Society’s annual meeting on Wednesday, May 25. (Courtesy photo) A stereoview card showing an image of the old City Hall building in Market Square (now known as Monument Square) in Portland, where crowds grew and violence broke out in 1855. Historian Herb Adams will present a lecture about the Portland Rum Riot at the South Portland Historical Society’s annual meeting on Wednesday, May 25. (Courtesy photo) The South Portland Historical Society will hold its annual meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 25 at the South Portland Community Center. The evening will begin with a very brief business meeting and will then be turned over to Portland historian Herb Adams for an interesting lecture about the Portland Rum Riot that took place in 1855.

The Portland Rum Riot was the result of a Maine law that went into effect in 1851 that prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol in the state of Maine. This was long before national Prohibition was passed in 1919. Portland Mayor Neal Dow, known as the “Father of Prohibition,” was a leading citizen of the day and played a key part in the events that led to the Portland Rum Riot that occurred when crowds began to grow and riot in front of the old city hall in Portland. With police unable to handle the agitated crowd, Dow called in the militia to deal with the situation.

Adams is a leading Portland historian, an adjunct professor of history and government at Southern Maine Community College, and has led a long life of public service, including serving on the Portland School Committee, the Portland Friends of the Parks Commission, Parkside Neighborhood Association, and as a member of the Maine State House of Representatives.

Admission to the lecture is free for current members of the South Portland Historical Society; non-members may attend with a $10 donation. Attendees can renew their membership or become a member at the door. For more information, call 767-7299 or visit the South Portland Historical Society page on Facebook.

Reminder: The Bug Light Kite Festi-

val is happening this weekend. This free festival at Bug Light Park takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 21. Kites are available for sale in the museum gift shop and a fundraiser barbecue at the event helps to raise funds for the museum. Please park at SMCC or on Madison Street and walk into the park, leaving any parking within the park available for those with handicap accessible needs.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of South Portland Historical Society.

Return to top