Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Herbert James Henderson


The movement to separate Maine from Massachusetts commenced in 178£ as an "anticolonial" movement. Led at first by conservatives who desired independence for Maine in order that they could become leaders in the style of their political brethren who led Massachusetts, the movement was eventually taken over by men such as William King, John Holmes, Albion K. Parris, William Pitt Preble, and John Chandler, all of whom formed the leadership of the Jeffersonian- Republicans in Maine.

These leaders of the Republicans of Maine desired independence in order to be freed from the economic and political constraints placed on their activities by the Federalists of Massachusetts and their compatriots in Maine. Behind the leadership of King and Chandler, the settlers of Maine, victimized by large land companies, provided the support not only for the party but for the cause of separation as well.

After a number of failures success finally came in 1819. William King, with the assistance of Rufus King, his brother, and William H. Crawford, Secretary of Treasury who was a close friend of Maine Republicans, obtained the revision of the “Coasting Law" which had proven to be the bane of separationists.

The democratic leanings of the Republicans of Maine were manifested in the Constitution of Maine. In fact, it can be plausibly argued that the separation movement after it was captured by the Republicans was a movement to democratize political life in Maine. Without this important element, a separation might never have taken place.

One final hurdle was placed between Maine and statehood. The combining of the Maine - Missouri statehood bill in Congress threatened to frustrate for years to come the desire of Maine people to be independent. If it was William King who was most responsible for the winning of separation, it was John Holmes who deserves the credit for bringing Maine into the union. His efforts to arrange a compromise met bitter resistence in Congress and in Maine; yet, he persisted until the arrangement was finally made. With its passage, the thirty-five year struggle to achieve the independence of Maine was successfully concluded.

Other subjects treated at length in this dissertation are: the rise of Bowdoin and Colby colleges, Maine and the War of 1812, early Maine newspaper history, and land speculation in Maine.

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