This is George Cleeve, an early settler of Portland, ME, who arrived in 1632 and apparently caused quite a controversy in 2002 when this statue was given to the city. The city ended up declining it, after some debate about whether he could be considered the “founder” of Portland (the native settlement of Machigonne preceeded the English settlement of Casco that eventually became Portland), whether he should be singled out for honor (his business partner Richard Tucker settled with him and their families), and whether he was a slaveowner at the time of his settlement (it appears that he wasn’t, but there were enough questions to make people uncomfortable). In the end, the statue was placed on the property of the Portland Company Marine Complex (the company’s owner, Phineas Sprague, Jr., is a descendent of Cleeve).
None of which I knew when I snapped this picture–I just kind of liked the look of good Mr. Cleeve in his 17th Century duds and stalwart expression.
Mr. Sprague, incidentally, has been supportive of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad (located at Fore and India; the statue is right across the tracks from the boarding station for the ride along Casco Bay). So whatever one may think of his ancestor–and, as ancestors go, George Cleeve seems no better nor worse than the various adventurers, profiteers, religious zealots, and ne’er-do-wells who braved the difficult passage from England to the wilds of Maine–one should be thankful for his largesse and commitment to preserving history.
As I’ve noted before, one can’t choose one’s ancestors, nor can they choose their descendents; to give Nat Hawthorne the last word on the subject:
Let us thank God for having given us such ancestors; and let each successive generation thank him, not less fervently, for being one step further from them in the march of ages.
Main Street, Nathaniel Hawthorne