"Thursday last witnessed the birth of a new State and ushered MAINE into the Union," announced an article in Portland's Eastern Argus on March 21, 1820. "The day was noticed, as far as we have heard from the various towns by every demonstration of joy and heart-felt congratulation, becoming the occasion ... May the day, which has so auspiciously commenced our political existence as a State, long be remembered with complacent feelings, and every annual return bring with it, by the many blessings it may produce, additional inducement for its celebration."
As Maine’s Bicentennial approaches, institutions, scholars, students and residents are once again looking to examine the events that culminated in Maine’s statehood. To support these efforts, we have gathered from our collections items that we hope will be of particular relevance and will provide a variety of perspectives on sensitive topics related to political, economic, social, business, and ethical issues related to boundaries and land use that remain pressing in discussions in the state today.
In an effort to make these primary texts as accessible as possible, in addition to PDF format, we have made selected publications available in ePUB format. We hope this allows readers to optimize their research experience using personal reader technology. Please feel free to provide feedback regarding the availability of these ePUB documents.
Those interested in this topic will also want to watch the Maine Bicentennial 2019-20 page developed by our colleagues at the UMaine Clement and Linda McGillicuddy Humanities Center.
For more information about this digital collection and other items available in the Special Collections Department of Fogler Library, contact us at 207.581.1686 or um.library.spc @ maine.edu.
Causes of an Unsuccessful Ministry: A Sermon, Preached at the Ordination of the Rev. Samuel Johnson, over the Church and Society in Alna, November 25, 1818
The text of David Thurston's 1818 sermon which includes an admonition for preachers to remember their place in the church, to adhere to "truth [as] the principal means of awakening sinners and of sanctifying saints," and to modify their preaching style "to the capacity of their hearers."
A Sermon Delivered in Augusta, June 23, 1819: Before the Maine Missionary Society, at Their Twelfth Anniversary
Jonathan Cogswell, David Thurston, Ammi R. Mitchell, Kiah Bayley, and Eliphalet Gillet
The text of a sermon presented by Jonathan Cogswell to the Maine Missionary Society in Saco, Maine on June 23, 1819. The document includes extracts from the report of the Trustees of the Maine Missionary Society including the Treasurer's statement and list of donors and donation amounts. The pamphlet also lists the names of Maine Missionary Society members by town and the names of officers elected on June 23, 1819.
Maine Constitutional Convention
The Maine Constitution was unanimously approved by the 210 delegates to the Maine Constitutional Convention in October 1819. On February 25, 1820, the General Court passed a follow-up measure officially accepting the fact of Maine’s imminent statehood.
Thanksgiving. A Discourse Delivered at Hallowell, on the Day of the Annual Thanksgiving in Massachusetts
The present age is ... distinguished for its advancements in literature and science. Laudable zeal is manifested, and successful efforts made, in every department of knowledge. The lovers of science have pushed their researches beyond the limits of former ages. Progress has been made in philology, in chymical [sic] and biblical knowledge, and in attainments in general literature. It is an object to which the public mind turns with a favorable aspect. Some nations, within the present age, have, in this respect, almost entirely changed their character; emerging from comparative barbarism to a state of refinement in science, from lethargy and inactivity to zeal for the diffusion of knowledge. And our own country, though not yet first in literary eminence among the kingdoms of the world, is assuming a rank, to which heretofore she could not put in a claim. Her universities, and colleges, and minor institutions of science, are receiving an increase of public favor and public benefactions ; and they, in their turn, are remunerating the public, by refining her enjoyments and throwing a lustre on her reputation.
Descendant of Miles Standish
The agreement for the sale of the Commonwealth’s Lands in the State of Maine, will be submitted to the Legislature for their ratification or rejection the present session. Permit one, who never owned a foot of land in Maine, and who has no possible interest, except for the good of posterity, in the decision, to offer a few remarks upon the expediency of ratifying that bargain.
Remarks on the Hartford Convention, or, An Exposition of the Conduct and a Development of the Ulterior Policy of the Federalists of Massachusetts, during the Late War
The Hartford Convention was a meeting of New England Federalists held in December 1814. Federalists who opposed U.S. involvement in the War of 1812, were seeking a strategy to retain political power and protect their economic interests in the region. As a result of this convention, amendments to the United States Constitution, intended to preserve Federalist power, were went to Congress including the requirement that 2/3 of Congress must approval a declaration of war or to admit a new state; that Presidents have a one-term limit; and that the 3/5th Compromise be abolished. The proposals were never acted upon. (Incomplete, includes the first 25 pages).
Joseph P. Fessenden
I DEEM it proper to state to the public some of my reasons for consenting to the publication of the following Sermon. A copy of it for the press, was requested by a number of gentlemen, members of the Congregational Society in Arundel, who disbelieve the doctrine of election, or consider, if it be revealed in the Bible, that it ought not to be preached ; in as much as it is irreconcilable with mans [sic] free agency, and beyond the comprehension of any finite capacity. I am credibly informed some have asserted, that the Sermon contains palpable contradictions, and, on this account, they should like to see it in print. Others have said that it inculcates sentiments which are new, not found in the writings, either of Watts, Edwards, or Hopkins. I have therefore concluded to give it to the public with all its novelty and contradictions, and leave them to form what opinion concerning it they please.
— JOSEPH P. FESSENDEN.
The Following Extract of the Charge of the Hon. Chief Justice Mellen, Delivered on the Late Circuit, is Communicated to the Public at the Request of the Grand Juries, for the Counties of York, Cumberland, and Oxford
Extract of the charge issued by Honorable Chief Justice Prentiss Mellen to the first grand jury seated in Maine followed the establishment of statehood. Chief Justice Mellen of Portland, was appointed to the court by Maine's first Governor, William King. His service began July 1, 1820 and concluded October 11, 1834.
“It is believed that a charge of this nature, from the Court to a Grand Jury, is calculated to make good impressions : to diffuse in no small degree a knowledge of our criminal code, enacted for the prevention and punishment of offences : to give information to the citizens, with regard to their obligations to the government, and to each other: and to increase their respect for those principles and laws which ought to govern the conduct of all : especially, if at the same time, they perceive the tribunals of Justice anxiously endeavoring to give them their aid, and sanction by a calm, impartial and unwearied discharge of their duty.”
The Debates, Resolutions, and Other Proceedings, of the Convention of Delegates, Assembled at Portland on the 11th, and Continued Until the 29th Day of October, 1819, for the Purpose of Forming a Constitution for the State of Maine. To Which is Prefixed The Constitution. Taken in Convention.
IN presenting to the public an account of the proceedings of the Convention, which framed the Constitution for the New State, regard has been had, not only to the gratification of a liberal curiosity, but to the preservation of an authentic record for future times. The assembling of that venerable body, was the most interesting event in our history. The object of their meeting was the most important, that can be undertaken, by men who enjoy the inestimable blessing of self-government. They were to lay the foundations of the state—and the result of their labors was to be an Act, which, if acceptable to the people, was to endure, and to influence their happiness, forages. The deliberations of such an Assembly, though happily for Americans, not a novel spectacle, yet must be viewed with the deepest interest, especially by those for whom they were acting. That interest is by no means impaired by the candor, magnanimity, and good feelings which characterised their proceedings. They are auspicious of that ingenuous and enlightened spirit, which it is so ardently to be desired, may distinguish the organizing and administering of the new government.
A Discourse Delivered at Brunswick, Maine, April 6, 1820, the Day of the Annual Fast in Maine and Massachusetts
Text of a sermon delivered by Reverend Asa Cummings on the state of Maine's first Day of Public Fasting, April 6, 1820 which includes references to the moral issue of slavery, which played a role in the establishment of Maine as a free state. Cummings (1790-1856) was a Congregationalist minister born in Andover, Massachusetts. He graduated from Andover Theological Seminary in 1820 and held the pastorate in Yarmouth, Maine from 1821 to 1825. He served as editor of the Christian Mirror newspaper following his retirement from the ministry.
A Charge Delivered to the Grand Jury of the Circuit Court of the United States, at its First Session in Portland for the Judicial District of Maine
The printed transcript of Judge Joseph Story’s address to the first Grand Jury to serve Maine’s federal circuit court in Portland. Story states: “The circumstances, under which I address you at the present moment are perhaps without a parallel in the annals of the other quarters of the world. This District has just been admitted into the union as a free, sovereign and independent state, possessing in common with all the others an equality of national rights and honors, and protected by an excellent constitution framed, by its own deliberations, upon principles of justice and equity.” The address goes on to provide contemporary definitions of the crimes of piracy, murder, and slavery.
The Bangor Register newspaper reporting on new state laws being adopted by the Maine Legislature following separation from Massachusetts in August 1820. The paper includes a note about treaty negotiations taking place between the Penobscot Nation and Col. Lewis as a result of statehood and the announcement of the pending, "fourth Census of the U. States." The publication contains additional news of the day including the report of a sea serpent sighted off Phillips Beach, Swampscott, Massachusetts; the accidental hanging of a child re-enacting an execution in Baltimore, Maryland; a recipe for a rhubarb tonic to treat cholera; marriage and death notices; and various advertisements.
The Memorial of the Merchants of the Town of Bath, in the State of Maine presented to Congress by Congressman Mark L. Hill, of Massachusetts, in opposition to an increase of the tariff of duties on imports, by way of protection to the manufacturing interests of the country.
William D. Williamson, Ashur Ware, and James Connor
Commission of James Connor appointed as Colonel of the Seventh Regiment of the Infantry in the Second Brigade, and the Second Division of the Maine Militia, by Governor William Williamson on July 24, 1821.
Female Education, a Discourse, Delivered at the Dedication of the Seminary Hall in Saugus, Jan. 15, 1822, to which is added the Little Reckoner, Consisting Principally of Arithmatical Questions for Infant Minds
That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace. --Psalm 144:12 (King James Version)
The literal import of this prayer, is, that our daughters may be qualified to till with dignity, propriety and usefulness, the important stations, which they may be called to occupy. But prayer, without corresponding exertion, is presumption. We are not to expect miracles. Something must be done, in order that females may attain that dignified and elevated rank in society, for which the God of nature, as well as the Bible, has manifestly designed them.
With this opening, Joseph Emerson, a pioneer in women's education, dedicated the relocation of his Female Seminary to Saugus, Massachusetts in 1822 before relocated again to Wethersfield, Connecticut after 1823.
Forty years following the close of the American Revolution, this speech by Moses Emery demonstrates the evolution of patriotic rhetoric used to romanticize the War of Independence.
Albion K. Parris
January 1823 State of the State address by Albion Keith Parris, Maine's 5th Governor (1822-1827), to the state Legislature:
“IN entering upon the duties of the several stations to which we have been respectively elected, we cannot be unmindful of our dependence upon that source of wisdom, to which all men, more especially those entrusted with the exercise of important political powers, should look for direction and support. To that Being we have abundant reason to be grateful, which the transactions of this occasion cannot fail of bringing distinctly to our consideration. Our State has been blessed with the enjoyment of more than common health ; our populous towns have been preserved from that distressing sickness with which several of the cities of other States have been severely afflicted ;— the honest industry of the people, in their various employments, has been rewarded with success ;—the restrictions upon one of the important branches of our commerce have been removed ; our fisheries have been unusually prosperous ;—our farms have produced their common abundance ; and our citizens exhibit generally, the appearance of contentment and prosperity.”
Parris was born in Hebron, Maine in 1788, the son of Samuel, who served as an officer during the American Revolution and was among the first settlers of Hebron. Parris held a number of political offices during his career as a member of the Democratic-Republican Party.
Albion K. Parris and Amos Nichols
A Proclamation for a day of Public Thanksgiving and Praise issued by Albion K. Parris, Governor of the State of Maine.
Report of the Committee Appointed to Procure a Survey for the Route of the Contemplated Cumberland & Oxford Canal to which is added the Report of the Engineer, Containing an Estimate of the Expence of Making the Canal
Cumberland & Oxford Canal Operation, Woodbury Storer, John Perly, Phinehas Varnum, and Eli Longley
The Committee chosen for the purpose of procuring a Survey to be made, of the Route of the contemplated Cumberland and Oxford Canal, and of causing an estimate of the probable amount necessary for carrying the design into full effect, have performed the services assigned them, and now present the annexed Report and Estimate of the Engineer, which will in part, exhibit the result of their labours.
The Estimate of actual expense is $130,804,89 ; to which is added 5 pr. cent, or $6,540,24, lest in any event that sum should prove insufficient for the completion of the work. Although this sum falls far short of what was anticipated by many, still if the nature of the land through which the route is pursued, the facility with which the excavations can generally be made, and the kind and cheapness of the materials required doubt can possibly exist that the sum is amply sufficient. That there are some individuals in the community who may be led to doubt its truth, is obvious ; but the Committee do not deem it their duty to spend time or paper in argument to convince the sceptical [sic], for a slight knowledge of facts will show the feasibility of execution within the limits of the sum assigned. --from the report, p. 3-4.
A Short Address, Delivered before the Sufferers by the Late Fire in Wiscasset and Alna, at their meeting January 18, 1824, to Express their Gratitude for Donations made for their relief, to which are Added Several Exhortations, and the Lord's Prayer, Paraphrased
According to the Portland Gazette, Sept. 16, 1823, over 26 square miles of land encompassing the communities of Wiscasset and Alna, Maine were scorched by a firestorm the afternoon of Sept. 4, 1823, resulting in over $250,672 in damages (approximately $5.8 million in 2018 USD). In addition to two deaths, the region lost 32 homes, 37 barns, 437 head of stock, 3 school houses, a tannery, a gristmill and a sawmill. Over 277 inhabitants were impacted between the two towns. Local authorizes estimated the value of lost property at $50,672 and the value of lost timber and crops at $200,000.
Within hours of the fire, Rev. Hezekiah Packard of Wiscasset, began penning missives to his associates throughout New England, seeking contributions to support fire victims. Articles about the fire and soliciting support appeared in newspapers in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut.
Rev. Packard spoke at a meeting of fire survivors on January 18, 1824, encouraging residents to rebuild and move forward. The text of Packard's sermon includes his eye-witness, albeit melodramatic, account of the fire. By April 1824, Rev. Packard announced that $21,505.64 in donations was received for distribution to fire victims.