Mechanics' Hall, originally called the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association, has deep roots in the story of Maine labor. As beloved historian Charlie Scontras wrote, "The MCMA was the state’s first
Mechanics’ Hall, originally called the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association, has deep roots in the story of Maine labor. As beloved historian Charlie Scontras wrote, “The MCMA was the state’s first expression of collective consciousness among workers, and its members left no doubt of its importance and value to society.” In honor of this history, we have launched a new labor series. Join us for this latest installment: The John Neal Address: A Call to Labor, 1831 to 2021.
This virtual event is free for members of Mechanics’ Hall and $8 general admission. Reserve your tickets through Eventbrite to receive the Zoom link. Membership with Mechanics’ Hall is free for students and starts at just $50 a year for individual memberships, which includes use of the library, free and discounted access to programs, and much more. Consider becoming a member today and help support programs like this.
On Thursday, January 13, 1831, John Neal gave a fiery speech to the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association. Nearly 200 years later, this address still feels relevant in many ways: an exhortation to labor to seize power through the ballot box and to elect labor representatives to government offices, to foster a lifelong love of learning, and to encourage the next generation to become tradesmen. Join us for a discussion with Marc Cryer, Andy O’Brien, and Dugan Murphy of John Neal, the 1831 address, its context, and what might be similar and different if given today.
“Portland’s John Neal (1793-1876) epitomized the spirit of 19th century Maine. In his long life he was a boxer, novelist, gymnist, publisher, architect, quarryman, attorney, phrenologist, pro-feminist and America’s first art critic. In 1827, after living in England, Neal settled in his home town, founded the acclaimed, but short-lived, literary magazine, the “Yankee,” and helped stimulate an artistic climate that flourished through the Civil War.” – Maine Historical Society
Marc Cryer is Director of the Bureau of Labor Education at the University of Maine, a department dedicated to providing education, information, and research to workers and labor organizations in Maine. The Bureau also provides Minor in Labor Studies. He is a California licensed attorney with a background in public sector labor relations, collective bargaining, and workplace conflict resolution.
Andy O’Brien is a writer, activist and communications director for the Maine AFL-CIO. He writes a column about state politics for the Rockland-based Free Press and co-writes a monthly column titled Radical Mainers about Maine labor and radical movements for Maine Magazine.
Dugan Murphy is working on the first book-length biography of John Neal since 1978. Dugan is the Executive Director of the Association of Maine Archives and Museums, an independent researcher, and a history tour guide in Portland. He holds Bachelor of Urban Planning and Master of Community Planning Degrees from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. A native of Greater Portland, he lives in town with his wife and two cats.
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