You are on page 1of 3

Introductory Comments by Connie Baxter Marlow to the

Panel Presentation entitled "The Baxter Vision in a Historical

with historians Earle Shettleworth, Neil Rolde and Herb Adams
in conjunction with the photography exhibit "Rhythms of Creation: The
Baxter Legacy". University of New England, Westbrook Campus, June
27, 2000.

Two years ago I received a book in the mail at my home in the mountains of Colorado.
The book was from Buzz Caverly, Director of Baxter State Park, whom I had not seen for
thirty years, not since I had lived at Katahdin for a year doing the photographs exhibited
here that were published in my book GREATEST MOUNTAIN: KATAHDIN'S
VISIONARIES by Neil Rolde.

Most of my adult life had been spent seeking answers to questions that had been plaguing
me as I grew up with a heritage of public service, generosity and a concern for humanity,
and the rest of creation that was far beyond the norm. This quest took me out of our
prevailing belief system into the bigger, broader understanding of the nature of things held
by visionary Native American elders who remembered the beginning, embodied the present
and could see the future. Words such as prophecy, visions, brotherhood of man, peace on
Earth, serving future generations, serving the group, interconnectedness all became
commonplace concepts in my life, as I came into contact with thinkers from all cultures
who see things most people cannot see, and embody this thinking in everything they do.
Many years ago I began to live my life and raise my children according to these principles.

The mere title of Neil's book gave me a thrill. Such a word as "visionary" applied to my
ancestors, combined with the information contained in the book, allowed me to see how
extraordinary both James Phinney Baxter and Percival Baxter had been. I discovered that
it was not only through large acts of public generosity that they impacted the minds and
hearts of the people of Maine, but through their everyday lives as well.

I subsequently returned to Maine after a 30 year absence and found a reverence for my
family that had not been evident during my work in the 70's. The passage of time had
etched the memory of these men into the Maine psyche. My question tonight is "What
was it about James Phinney Baxter and Percival Baxter that set them apart as

The American Heritage Dictionary defines vision as "unusual competence, discernment of

perception; intelligent foresight. And visionary as one who has visions, a seer, one who is
given to impractical or speculative ideas; a dreamer. A poster at UNE defines vision as
"Seeing beyond what is to what can be." In my high school yearbook the quote I used to
express my philosophy of life was " It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what
is essential is invisible to the eye." by Antoine St. Exupere in The Little Prince.
Percival Baxter, in response to criticism for lowering the statehouse flag to half-mast upon
the death of his dog Garry, is quoted as saying: " I seek to offend the feelings of none, but
I relinquish to none the right to act according to the dictates of my heart."

In his speech in 1899 entitled "A Period of Peril" for the Centennial Adoption of the U.S.
Constitution James Phinney spoke of a vision he had concerning the future of the Anglo-
Saxon race on the world stage. He saw it as a race that was "animated by ideas, which
make it invincible, and the chief of these are the ideas of civil liberty and the universal
brotherhood of man." He goes on to say " These ideas have proved to be the germs of all
true progress in the past and will excercise (considerable) influence on the world's future.
Its power is not in numbers, but in its indomitabe spirit. The Anglo-Saxon influence will
inspire men of every race to make the best and highest use of all powers, not only for the
individual, but for the common weal."

In my reading I came across a quote that stated my heritage, my life and my quest
succinctly: "What is the truth or nature of things and how are we to embody it in our
social living?" from a book entitled MYSTICS AS A FORCE FOR CHANGE.

I would like to suggest that JPB and PPB felt deeply and experienced the world through
their hearts first and used their minds, education, position, wealth and power to implement
the direction they received - that this led to actions which took on significant proportions
as they served humanity by supporting Women's Suffrage, women in government
positions, opposing the KKK, providing for the disadvantaged, the deaf; as they
championed the animals through anti-vivisection laws, lowering the flag for Garry, taking
personal stances for animals; as they honored the land and future generations through
personal gifts of Katahdin, Mackworth Island, Baxter Woods and the concept for Baxter
Boulevard and the Portland Park System; as they fought for the water - keeping water
rights in Maine. They were businessmen and politicians, but they were also lovers of life -
poets, writers, artists and responded to personal and political situations deeply and
publicly. Regarding women's suffrage Percival stated "If any of us have strong convictions
in favor of it, our convictions must govern our actions... On questions of this sort I prefer
to stand upon my convictions, and if my constituency disapprove of my action, I must
submit to such punishment as they may see fit to give me in the years to come." This
attitude was to typify Percy's public action.

To me, they both "saw with the heart and embodied it in their social living" and these are
the attributes that gave them a lasting legacy and permanent place in the hearts of the
Maine people.

I know that all of you panelists have had either personal experience with Percival Baxter
or through extensive research or both have some wonderful stories and facts to share with
us tonight and will expand our experience and understanding of the heart-felt actions of
both Percival and his father James Phinney Baxter as they created a legacy for us all to
marvel at and be inspired by.

Thank you for coming and sharing your knoweldge and experiences with us.