Contemporary observers and modern historians alike have often portrayed early Maine as a wild frontier with doubtful sexual morals where colonists routinely challenged all known forms of authority. Nevertheless, a full examination of colonial Maine’s sexual misconduct court trials demonstrates that local justices of the peace were ultimately able to draw on longstanding English traditions of legal compromise and mediation to both manage their colonists and build a functional civil society in the face of ongoing political instability. One particular series of sexual misconduct trials, spanning from the colony’s origins in the early seventeenth century to its maturing in the eighteenth century, demonstrate that Maine colonists were no more sexually promiscuous than their counterparts in the other New England colonies, and that Maine colonists and legal officials alike ultimately saw themselves as taking part in a balanced society. Abby Chandler completed an MA in Public History at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2002 and a PhD in History at the University of Maine in 2008. She has taught Early American History at the University of Massachusetts Lowell since 2010. Her first book, Law and Sexual Misconduct in New England, 1650–1750: Steering Toward England, was published by Ashgate in 2015. She is currently working on her second book project which examines the use of English legal traditions in political rebellions in the 1760s.
Chandler, Abby. "“I Made Fresh Pursuit After Him”: Law, Order, and Sexual Misconduct on the Maine Frontier." Maine History 51, 1 (2017): 83-108. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mainehistoryjournal/vol51/iss1/5