Paul Buck

Historian, Educator

Paul has always maintained an acute interest in cross-cultural communication. He is proficient in English, French, Spanish, German, Russian, and Wolof.  He has either studied or taught over the course of four academic years in French Canada (Québec City), Russia (Voronezh), and Senegal (Dakar). Two of these experiences were through the auspices of the Fulbright Program.  He still enjoys traveling internationally.

He moved to Maine in 2001 to begin his doctorate in U.S. and Canadian history at the University of Maine, which he completed in 2008.  Paul is one of only two people to have completed his history dissertation at Orono in the French language. Thereafter, he moved to the St. John Valley to teach French at Wisdom Middle-High School in St. Agatha, the town he proudly calls his home today. After one year at Wisdom, he undertook his present position at the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK), where he serves as Associate Professor of History and Education. He also has taught a number of Elementary French and Spanish courses at UMFK.  Paul enjoys participating in his adopted community, particularly in local organizations that promote and celebrate the French language and the Acadian and Franco-American culture of the St. John Valley.

Paul was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland. From the outside, many think of Annapolis as a very small city with a transitory nature, due to strong federal and state government presence, as well as its relative proximity to two large cities. However, in addition to his life in Maine, Paul grew up as a fourth-generation Annapolitan. The Annapolis he experienced as a child and as a young adult was deeply rooted in supportive community writ large, but even more so in the African-American community in which he grew up. As Annapolis had one public high school, Paul had the joy of developing friendships across many different cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Paul has taken these early, vastly positive lessons and has applied them to the best of his ability to his life in Eastern Maine and in the St. John Valley

Talks

  • Webster-Ashburton Treaty (1842) and Maine’s Northern Border

Paul’s presentation examines the different perspectives of Maine statehood and of Maine culture as seen through the prism of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, which definitively established the boundary between British North America and the United States. Many forget that the treaty also formally established a new mechanism for collaboration between London and Washington to combat the continued international trade of enslaved peoples, which technically was outlawed in the United States in 1808.  However, as famous cases such as the Amistad have shown, the smuggling of enslaved people continued well past that date.

Through a PowerPoint presentation, which includes images of maps from the Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine (many thanks to fellow MHC speaker and director of the Map Library Libby Bischof), Paul explores the treaty itself and its impact on the singular Acadian and Francophone community of the St. John Valley, which found itself split into two countries. He gives historical context as well, most certainly commencing with the long-standing Maliseet and Mi’kmaq communities of the region, along with Scots-Irish and, by the 1820s, of Maine Yankee residents.