Colonial Entrepreneur: Silvester Gardiner and the Settlement of the Kennebec River Valley

Overview

Dr. Silvester Gardiner was an extraordinary individual, both in his time and through the lens of history. Born in 1708, he was the first New Englander to receive a medical education in Europe. But his entrepreneurial leanings soon eclipsed his medical practice, and he invested with other Boston merchants in a million-and-a-half-acre tract of land in Maine, known as the Kennebec Purchase.

In telling his story, biographer Olivia Coolidge traces the early settlement of Maine, from ...

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Overview

Dr. Silvester Gardiner was an extraordinary individual, both in his time and through the lens of history. Born in 1708, he was the first New Englander to receive a medical education in Europe. But his entrepreneurial leanings soon eclipsed his medical practice, and he invested with other Boston merchants in a million-and-a-half-acre tract of land in Maine, known as the Kennebec Purchase.

In telling his story, biographer Olivia Coolidge traces the early settlement of Maine, from the first settlers struggling to survive bitter winters in crude huts, to the gradual establishment of trade, sawmills, gristmills, and other commerce, then attempts to increase the population with immigrants and instill civilization through the firm hands of religion, government, and Dr. Gardiner. This outstanding biography paints a vivid portrait, lively with detail, of a dynamic man and his imprint on the Kennebec River Valley.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780884482055
  • Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/1/1999
  • Pages: 282
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2001

    Beautifully written but with historical inaccuracies

    This is a fascinating book for anyone interested in early New England history, and its descriptive writing is a pleasure to read. For example, ¿BY SIX O¿CLOCK ON A December evening, Boston streets had fallen quiet. Country people who had come in to set up market stalls at dawn had long ago trudged off down Malborough Street with their packhorses and rattling carts. Oystermen, sweeps, and peddlers had silenced their bells and disappeared. Fashionable ladies paying calls.........¿ The problem that I found with the book is its historical inaccuracies. The books purpose was to provide a biographical sketch of a member of the Boston aristocracy who had a powerful influence on Maine history in the eighteenth century. In 1751 Sylvester Gardiner took a previously defunct patent that the Pilgrims had acquired from England in the 1600s and, with the help of a few other Bostonians, attempted to take control of a tract of land on the Kennebec and Sagadahoc Rivers, much of which was already being peacefully managed by two other companies, the Pegepscot Proprietors to the west of the Sagadahoc River and the Clarke & Lake Proprietorship to the east. This conflicting upheaval of the area produced by Gardiner¿s claims continued both in and out of the courts for the next 100 years and was finally settled around 1850. This book, of course, takes the side of Sylvester Gardiner and the Plymouth Proprietors, claiming that the other companies were merely ¿adventurers¿ with no claim to the property. From this position the book adopts all of the arguments that Gardiner used to make his claim, which were eventually overturned in court long after Gardiner¿s demise. The book dismisses this final decision, saying only that ¿...conflicting claims of other people later forced a great readjustment of the southern boundaries of the patent.¿ The book takes many liberties with the facts, purposely omitting some pertinent information, such as who leased the Pilgrim¿s Cushnoc trading post on the Kennebec, and then misstating when and for how much. When the Pilgrim¿s management convinced its residents to vote to shut down the trading post, that management then offered to lease it themselves for ¿...one sixth of its profits annually.¿ This was in 1638, not in 1649. Gardener¿s, and the book¿s, claim that the Pilgrim¿s patent extended to the Atlantic Ocean is the dominant theme of the book, in spite of the authors recognition that the Kennebec River did not. I was pleasantly surprised to find the book containing this fact, for I have not seen it printed in any other modern Maine history, other than my own. The mouth of the Kennebec was where it entered Merrymeeting Bay, just as was its sister river, the Androscoggin. And the Pilgrim¿s patent only included the Kennebec River. So, in spite of the book¿s slant towards this ¿Colonial Entrepreneur¿s¿ claims, I do highly recommend it because it does open a wonderful window on that period in New England¿s history.

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