1391 - 1970 6c Maine Statehood
U.S. #1391 pictures The Lighthouse at Two Lights, Maine, by Edward Hopper.

On March 15, 1820, Maine became America’s 23rd state.

Before European settlement, thousands of Indians lived in Maine. Most belonged to the Abenaki and Etchemin tribes of the Algonquian Indian family. The Iroquois Indians frequently attacked these people, and they were bitter enemies.

Vikings led by Leif Erikson may have visited Maine around 1000 A.D. In 1498, John Cabot, an Italian captain in the service of England, reached Maine. France also sent many explorers to the area, including: Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524; Pierre du Gua de Monts, in 1604; and Samuel de Champlain in 1604. Champlain named Mount Desert, the largest island on the Maine coast.

1655 - 1976 13c State Flags: Maine
U.S. #1655 – The Maine flag pictures the coat of arms, which includes a moose, pine tree, farmer, seaman, and the North Star.

Two wealthy Englishmen, Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Sir John Popham, sent George Weymouth to explore the coast of Maine. Weymouth’s report encouraged Gorges and Popham to attempt settlement. In 1607, a group of colonists established Popham Colony, near the mouth of the Kennebec River. Popham’s death and troubles with Indians forced the colonists to return to England a year later. Interestingly, during their stay in Maine, the colonists made the first boat built by the English colonists in America, the Virginia.

1971 - 1982 20c State Birds and Flowers: Maine
U.S. #1971 pictures the Maine state bird (chickadee) and flower (white pine cone and tassel).

In 1622, the Council for New England granted Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason a large tract of land that extended through much of present-day Maine and New Hampshire. Perhaps the first permanent English settlement was founded near today’s city of Saco in 1623. Several more English settlements followed. In 1629, Gorges and Mason divided the land, and Gorges took control of Maine. Gorges established Maine’s first government in 1636. In 1642, he chartered the first English city in what is now the United States, Georgeana (now York). By 1658, Maine was made part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. However, the Gorges family fought for their claim. In 1677, Massachusetts finally took control of the colony by purchasing it from the Gorges family.

During the French and Indian Wars, the British and French and their Indian allies battled for control of the New England region. A great deal of fighting took place in Maine. One of the key events of the war was the English capture of the French fort of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, in 1745. William Pepperrell of Maine led the attack on the fort. The French and Indian Wars ended in 1763 with the Treaty of Paris. With this treaty, France relinquished most of its land claims in the New World.

3579 - 2002 34c Greetings From America: Maine
U.S. #3579 pictures a moose, the state animal, and a Portland lighthouse.

Patriots in Maine were involved with protesting British taxation policies before the start of the American Revolutionary War. In 1774, a group of patriots destroyed a shipment of tea at York, in a protest similar to the legendary Boston Tea Party. This incident became known as the York Tea Party.

After the war started in Massachusetts, Maine endured many hardships – especially the people that lived in towns. In 1775, British soldiers burned Falmouth, now Portland, as a punishment for their rebellion. The first naval battle of the war took place off the coast of Maine near Machias in June 1775. That year, Benedict Arnold led troops from Augusta, Maine, to capture Quebec, but Arnold and his troops were badly beaten. In 1779, the British occupied the town of Castine, and patriot efforts to liberate it were defeated.

4295 - 2009 44c Flags of Our Nation: Maine
U.S. #4295 – The Maine state motto is “Dirigo,” which is Latin for “I lead.”

After the war, Maine’s population increased rapidly. Massachusetts soldiers were rewarded for their service with grants of property in Maine. Also, land was sold at very affordable prices.

The people of Maine became increasingly dissatisfied with the government of Massachusetts. Their list of complaints included high taxes, poor roads, and the great distance to the state capital, Boston. After the War of 1812, a movement for independence gained momentum. Many pro-separation candidates won election to legislature, and their influence swayed many voters. In 1819, the people voted for separation. On March 15, 1820, Maine entered the Union as its 23rd state.

CNME25D - 2003 Maine State Quarter, D Mint
Item #CNME25D – the Maine state quarter pictures the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse and a schooner at sea.

Since 1783, Maine’s border with New Brunswick had been disputed. This led to the Aroostook War of 1839 – which involved no actual fighting – in which U.S. General Winfield Scott went to Maine and arranged a temporary agreement. The Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 finally settled the border dispute.

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  1. Maine is a region of France, bordering Normandy on the north side, along with Percheron, and Brittany on the east side. To the south is the city of La Rochelle where Sir de Champlain came from, and who I suspect gave Maine its name (?), the way he did with Vermont (green mountains). The first wave of immigration after Champlain’s founding of Quebec City (1608) almost exclusively drew from the regions of Normandie/Maine/Percheron who, as former British subjects (Huguenots) since 1066, were not happy with French rule. It was interesting to know how Maine’s border with New Brunswick was determined on it’s east side. It might be just as interesting to learn how this was done with respect to its north/west sides. Great celebration day indeed. GdR

  2. Great State! I spent six years of my military career in Maine on two tours. Many fond memories and many firsts. Mt Desert Island was taken over by the NY crowd with their big estates but there is still Sandy Beach and Thunder Hole. The movie “Peyton Place” was filmed in the lovely harbor of Camden. The “Green Door” in Bar Harbor was always a treat for the tourists. They say if the coast of Maine was straightened out , it would reach from Maine to Florida.

  3. This article doesn’t mention that the admission of Maine was all mixed up with the festering issue of slavery. In 1818, Missouri had requested admission as a slave state even though it was just to the west of Illinois, a free or non-slave state. This led to fierce arguments in Congress between Southerners and Northerners, and Missouri statehood was held up until Maine requested admission as a free state. Both were admitted in 1820 under what has been referred to as the Missouri Compromise. This preserved the balance of slave and free states…twelve slave and twelve free. But the issue of slavery would not go away. This so-called balance continued for the next thirty years as new states were admitted. Vast new western territory was acquired after the war with Mexico in the 1840s, and California requested admission as a free state in 1850. This brought on a whole new crisis, and it resulted in the Compromise of 1850. All of this and much more was a prelude to the Civil war of the 1860s.

  4. 1066 is generally believed to be that year that the: “Battle of Hastings” took place. William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandie in northwestern France, which contain the Normandie beachheads where the Invasion of June 6, 1944 “The Longest Day” took place. Years ago, I saw a documentary where it mentions that in the State of Maine there is a stone structure which is believed to have been erected by the Phoenicians, or the Sea Peoples of the ancient Mediterranean. If true, then Christopher Columbus was not the first.
    We know that the Vikings temporarily settle the area around 1000 AD.

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