Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




This paper is intended to present a picture of Maine as it was in 1820, at the time of the separation from Massachusetts. I have endeavored to give a cross-section of the state just at the time it was taking a place among the more mature council, known as the United States. Maine had been for a long time under the tutelage of Massachusetts, but now felt able to strike out on its own.

In 1820 Maine presents an interesting picture. It is a good period of which to make a sketch for the state was entering upon the new and leaving the old behind. What a contrast it would offer with a similar pioture to-day. More and more we understand what foundation we have to build upon, as the spectacle passes before our eyes. It is interesting to note the government; the courts and the lawyers; the status of the population and the number of towns; the condition of commerce, business, agriculture and manufacturing; the prevalence of religion and education; the development of music; the progress of medicine and the number of doctors; the extent of travel and the mail system; the amusements and entertainments; and the countless things by which one rates the civilization and culture of a period. One can almost see the people themselves as he reads of what they wore, what they ate, what they drank, what they did, and where they went.

In every way possible, through statistics, maps, personal references, advertisements and notices from newspapers, programs of entertainments, descriptions and mere records of events, the attempt has been made to conjure a picture of Maine and Maine people, as they went about their daily life in 1820. Although the above date has been made the focal point, events in the immediate vicinity of 1820 have been included, when they have helped to make the picture more complete.

Particular emphasis has been laid upon the religious, educational, musical, medical and social sides. These points are vital elements in the life of a people and rightfully take prominent places in the forthcoming picture.

In 1820 one sees Maine as she was after the disastrous years of the embargo, the war of 1812, the "summerless year" (1816), and the "Ohio Fever". She was just settling down, after the intense excitement of separation and the Missouri Compromise, to one of her most prosperous decades, namely, from 1820 to 1830. All of her most important industries, such as ship-building, commeroe, lumbering and fishing were in full swing. The newspapers reveal all those things to our gaze and in addition enable us to catch a glimpse of the people themselves.

Men were becoming more and more cognizant of the need for better educational facilities, hence the Maine Education Law of 1821. Health and medicine became factors of increasing interest. As a result stricter standards were demanded for doctors and a medical school was established at Bowdoin. The same was true in other fields of interest. Through a survey of Maine’s people and their activities, one can learn Maine's calibre in 1820. As Williamson says: MIn every community the form and features of government, its military and fiscal system, the education, religion, employments, institutions, and domestic life of the people, are obviously the lights or shades that give it character".

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