LEWISTON — In collaboration with the Quebec Delegation, the Franco-American Collection will present “Bootleggers, Bribes and Ballots: Stories from Lewiston’s Rum War” from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn College, Room 170, 51 Westminster St.

Maine was the first state to adopt prohibition. From the 1850s through 1933, Maine was legally a “dry” state. But reality didn’t always match the letter of the law. Franco Americans became notorious for flouting the law, whose supporters were partly motivated by anti-Catholic prejudice.

James Myall will take the audience into the less known history of prohibition in Maine, into what was called the “Rum War” in Lewiston. Attendees will hear about the conflict between the local police and the county sheriff’s office; the proliferation of speakeasies in Little Canada; and the crime and graft that resulted.

The event will also be a chance to reflect on what can be learned from this history; how it relates to contemporary questions on drug policy, policing and discrimination.

Myall was coordinator of the Franco-American Collection at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College for several years. He is the co-author of “The Franco-Americans of Lewiston-Auburn” and continues to be active in researching Franco-American history. He writes a blog hosted by the Bangor Daily News, “Parlez Vous American?”


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