January 10, 2008

7:05 PM, Dec 29, 2008   |    comments
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Original Air Date: January 19, 2008

Here we go again!  This is week one of or ninth year and our eighth full season.  I think this is one of my best shows ever.  Watch it go to heck in a handbasket!!!

Let's start at the end.  The Nathan Clifford story was wonderful to me. I think we could do better teaching these stories in our schools.  I did know that he became a Supreme Court Justice, but I knew nothing else!  What a guy.
  I did the story because they are closing the Nathan Clifford School in Portland.  I always thought the school was named for the former Supreme Court Justice and U. S. Attorney General.  During the taping, some family members raised a question about whom the school was named after.  The family thought it was named for a son, Nathan Clifford who had been mayor of Portland the year before the school was built.  There was a bust of our Nathan Clifford in the school, so I suspect it was named for "our man" as historian Herb Adams would say.  Herb is one of my "go to guys" when I need a history story.  The adjunct instructor at USM is so knowledgeable about Maine history.  He also spins a good tale.  He directed me through the Nathan Clifford story.
Nathan Clifford was a Jacksonian Democrat.  They basically believed in an agrarian America with limited and weak national government.  Unfortunately, many things they supported, such as Manifest Destiny made us a big country with a strong federal government.
Clifford himself is a fascinating story.  He was of average intellect, but stupendous drive.  He was born into an average small farm family.  He managed to attain a public education, but could not afford college.  He told his family that he packed his belongings "in a hobo's bundle" and walked to Maine where he had an opportunity to read law.  He became a lawyer and got elected to the Maine Legislature.  He quickly rose to Speaker of The House.  The legislature (Republican Government) elected Congressmen in those days, so Clifford was soon off to Washington.
There he aligned himself with the Jacksonians.  The key to his career was loyalty to the philosophy.  President James K. Polk chose Nathan Clifford to fill an empty cabinet post as Attorney General.  Future President James Buchanan was already in the cabinet as Secretary of State.
Clifford served with a lack of flare.  He later was chosen to negotiate the treaty of Guadalupe-Hildago which ended the Mexican-American war.
After that, he returned to Portland to practice law.  While here, he lived next door to Channel 6 in what is now the Cumberland Club.
In 1858, President Buchanan would select Nathan Clifford for the Supreme Court.  The election was close, but "our man" made it.
He was not stellar on the bench, but he did have stamina.  He served for 23 years.  His most important role was chairing the Presidential Election Committee of 1876.
As his waist grew so did his stature.  We think he must have had diabetes.  We learned that he had a leg removed just before he died.  He tried to hang on through the Garfield-Arthur administration so he could be replaced by a Democrat.  He didn't make it. 
What a guy.  What a remarkable testament to hard work.  Standing at his grave, I said to Herb "And you know, he lived scandal free.  He may not have been the greatest, but he never had a scandal."  Herb replied, "Yes, Bill.  When you weigh 350 pounds, scandals come hard."
The John Christie story was fun.  John was one of my many heroes growing up and I think his magnificent personality shines through on the tape.  I feel bad that I left so many of John's stories off that tape.  John used to back up Jud Strunk in a group called the Sugarloafers, which John said was really "Jud performing out front and three guys sort of singing behind him."   John Christie is a great guy and I'm glad his book The Story of Sugarloaf has been a success.  It's already in the second printing.
The first piece is on a bunch of guys who are going to participate in Cain's Quest,a 1200 mile snowmobile race.  The interesting thing about the race to me is that there is no trail, they're going to bushwack.  For more information about the race, you can check out their website.
For more information:
<a href="http://www.cainsquest.com/" target="_blank">http://www.cainsquest.com/</a><br>
<a href="http://www.teammaineiac.com/aboutmakeawish.htm" target="_blank">http://www.teammaineiac.com/aboutmakeawish.htm</a><br>

A funny thing about this story (to me) is that I got a call about doing this story last year.  A bunch of guys known as Team Maine said they were going up.  I had never heard of Cain's Quest, but I didn't do the story.  That's because I'm not actually going to be at the event.  Still, I found the event intriguing and decided to break my rule this year.  Turns out, I got contacted by Team Mainiac.  Before the show even airs, there is confusion in the snowmobile world as Team Maine fans think their guys will be on.  For the record, Team Maine went up and finished fifth last year.  Team Mainiac is heading for the first time.  For more information on Team Maine, check out their website as well.
<a href="http://www.teammaineracing.net/" target="_blank">http://www.teammaineracing.net/</a><br>

The archive piece isn't that old.  It's Jack Traps.  Every outdoorsman I know recommends them.  Here's there website, it's good stuff.  They're available at Beans, Kittery Trading Post and Bass Pro Shops.
<a href="http://www.jacktraps.com/" target="_blank">http://www.jacktraps.com/</a><br>

Hope you like the show.  I think it's a good one and I can't wait to watch it.  Go Pats!



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