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Cotton Town: Maine’s Economic Connections to Slavery

December 16, 2021 - May 8, 2022

This exhibit unveils newly discovered artifacts exposing the efforts of 19th-century Bath captains, merchants and shipbuilders to stifle abolition and protect the town’s economic interests in slavery, primarily through the cotton trade. Among other artifacts, the museum’s new exhibit will feature pre-Civil War letters from ship captains and merchant logbooks that detail the transport of enslaved people on Maine ships. Pictures of the schooners used for the Southern cotton industry—primarily built in Bath—will also be on display. This project is supported in part by an American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The museum is unveiling its new exhibit in partnership with Bowdoin College’s Africana Studies Department, led by Tess Chakkalakal. Chakkalakal has published widely on 19th-century African-American literature. She and her students have worked with the museum for months in preparation for the exhibit, uncovering a complicated past in Maine that many people in the state do not fully recognize.


December 16, 2021
May 8, 2022
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Maine Maritime Museum
(207) 443-1316
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Maine Maritime Museum
243 Washington St
Bath, ME 04530 United States
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