"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 events unfold, 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.
We were particularly pleased that these items could be available in advance of the Maine Statehood and Bicentennial Conference held in Orono May 30-June 1, 2019. Visit their conference space for full event content, including videos of all the sessions.
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.
Beulah Sylvester Oxton
Born December 1879 in Vinalhaven, Maine Beulah Sylvester Oxton (1879-1924) was a teacher in the Bar Harbor school system, Maine writer and poet. She was a member of the Maine Writers' Research Club.
One Hundred Years of Statehood: Centennial Studies Celebrations in the Public Schools of Maine, 1920
State Superintendent of Schools
During the centennial year the children of the public schools should become familiar with the history of Maine from the struggle to subdue the wilderness and plant a civilization to these days of comfort, education and culture.
Struggling against adversity our forefathers toiled to make the sea yield its substance, uproot the forest, plant farms, build homes and to rear their young in the paths of industry and virtue. The task they undertook was of such tremendous proportions that we, who are accustomed to the comfortable homes of today, all the conveniences of travel and facilities for communication, can scarcely comprehend what life in those early days meant.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Typed transcription of colonial Court sessions held in York, Maine between March 25, 1636 and November 23, 1661. Records include documentation of criminal and tort cases as well as probate matters. Criminal cases range from public drunkenness to the murder trial of Charles Frost in the death of Warwick Heard, 1646.
The document text is written in 17th Century Early Modern English lacking standardized spelling. This hand-made volume was assembled, bound, and donated to Fogler Library Special Collections by Frank C. Deering.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Typed transcription of colonial Court sessions and records held in York, Maine between December 1658 and November 1671. Page numbering continues from Volume 1.
The document text is written marks the historical period of Restoration. Records are not in chronological order but include documentation of criminal and tort cases as well as numerous probate matters. This volume was assembled, bound, and donated to Fogler Library Special Collections by Frank C. Deering.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Typed transcription of colonial Court sessions and records held in York, Maine between September 1661 and August 1676. Page numbering continues from Volume II.
Records in this volume are not in chronological order but include documentation of criminal and tort cases as well as numerous probate matters. This volume was assembled, bound, and donated to Fogler Library Special Collections by Frank C. Deering.
Benjamin E. Gardner and John Gardner
Property map with no scale, showing numbered lots in the Alexander and the town of Cooper. The map indicates eastern boundaries with Township No. 19 and Crawford, Plantation No. 14, and Princeton, Maine. The property was once part of the lands first surveyed Rufus Putnam.
From Gardner Family Papers, 1830-1939. John Gardner (1801-1888), was the principal surveyor in Calais, Maine. His son, Benjamin E. Gardner (1869-1939), a civil engineer and land surveyor took over for his father and worked most frequently with local attorneys doing land title research.
Harold Howard Inman
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".
Frederick Gardiner Fassett Jr.
Post-Revolutionary Maine: The history of newspapers in the District of Maine, from 1785 to 1820, falls into three divisions, centering respectively about the activities of Thomas Baker Wait, Peter Edes, and Nathaniel Willis, Jr. These men and the newspapers with which they were identified are the dominant agents in a somewhat chaotic development; a host of lesser men and lesser papers support them. Wait, because he was prime mover in the first paper, because he trained several younger men, because he was an energetic and progressive publisher, and because in partnership with his protege John Kelse Baker he led the way from Portland into the interior at Hallowell, was the pioneer. Peter Edes, following Wait and Baker to Hallowell, publishing there the first vigorous journal in the hinterland, and thence going on to establish at Bangor the first important paper to the eastward, served to strengthen the journalistic tradition in the District, and to render firmer the habits of controversy and discussion which were essential to early newspapers. Thus he, unconsciously, it is true, made ready a place for Willis, who, last of the three chronologically, was the first to publish a paper which became an inescapable force in the body politic, and which approximated very nearly the editorial function of the present day journal. [from p. 15]
Negley K. Teeters
An academic history of the design and construction of the first Maine State Prison built at Thomaston, Maine. The prison, designed by and constructed under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Rose, was unique in America. The 50 solitary confinement cells were actually underground pits. Rose, as the first prison warden, employed the Auburn prison system of strictly enforced silence, hard labor, and corporal punishment intended to inspire "grief and penitence."
Negley K. Teeters (1896-1971)was a Professor of Criminology at Temple University, Philadelphia and a leading academic in the field of prison reform.
Allan L. Robbins
Prior to the start of World War II, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI declared dead the criminal networks established by violent career gangsters during the Prohibition Era. By 1950, America’s attention was focused on the Cold War, Communism, and suspected Soviet subversion plots.
As the FBI continually denied the existence of organized crime, a new American mafia was establishing legitimate businesses as covers for racketeering, drug trafficking, and loansharking. Bribes to local police and politicians bought protection from investigation.
In 1949 the American Municipal Association pushed for the U.S. Congress to investigate. Despite Hoover’s continued denials, the resulting Kefauver Committee proceedings in the U.S. Senate—televised in March 1951 and watched by approximately 30 million Americans—concluded:
"As the result of the committee's activities there exists a great public awareness of the nature and extent of organized crime. The public now knows that the tentacles of organized crime reach into virtually every community throughout the country. It also knows that law enforcement is essentially a local matter calling for constant vigilance at the local level and a strengthening of public and private morality."
It is this state of affairs that Maine State Prison Warden Allan L. Robbins references as “a tremendous upsurge in public interest recently concerning the relationship between law-enforcement officials and the so-called “underworld”…” in the prologue of his compiled history about penology and operation of the Maine State Prison from 1824 to 1953.
Blakely Brooks Babcock
The Embargo of 1807 was passed by the United States Congress on December 22nd 1807. It marked the culmination of American attempts to deal effectively with the warring powers of Europe and to prevent their depredations on American ships and seamen. With all foreign trade cut off and coastal trade increasingly difficult, much of Maine's economic life was at a standstill for the duration of the fourteen-month embargo. The restrictive laws came at a time the District of Maine was engaged in a profitable and growing trade with ports all over the world.
Ronald Fillmore Banks
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.
Ronald F. Banks
Appendix V only from the volume Maine Becomes a State, containing the tabulation of votes for the six elections on separation of Maine from Massachusetts which took place between 1792 and 1819.
Lloyd C. Irland
On the plans of towns sold in the District of Maine after 1783, the signature of Rufus Putnam, surveyor, frequently appears. Putnam spent weeks in the wild lands locating corners and mapping lots as a field man for the largest land sales operation in Maine's history. In thirty-seven years he and his associates surveyed and sold a land area twice the size of Connecticut. They struggled with practical problems that still confront later generations of foresters: boundary disputes, political pressures, unruly logging contractors, timber estimates, and map making. The work of Rufus Putnam, not only as an individual but as an agent of the early public lands policies applied to Maine, left durable marks on the state's history. The historian of Maine's public lands faces two major questions in assessing the overall impact of this disposal program: What did the Maine land policy issues faced by Massachusetts and by the United States as a whole have in common, if anything? And what were the key bequests to Maine and U.S. land policy from this period?
Jason M. Dorr
Throughout the nineteenth century in the United States, Native American and European cultures were often in conflict, consequently, Native Americans found it necessary to transform their traditional practices in order to adhere to the ever-changing environment These transformations included altering their hunting and gathering patterns since land speculators and industrialists appropriated the land and its resources, and encouraged agricultural development. They had to reconstruct their religion to fit the new Christian worldview They also had to rethink the role of traditional tribal politics in order to adhere to the laws of emerging governments. Native Americans throughout the United States were experiencing many of the same problems as white American expansion continued, but the focus of this paper will be upon the Penobscot Indians, a group within the Abenaki family of the Northeast. My thesis examines the relationship, which was an ongoing interaction, that developed between the Penobscot Indians and the State of Maine in the three decades following statehood The relationship they shared with Maine was similiar to the one they had with Massachusetts, it just became more refined. By researching the legislation and executive decisions concerning the natives, the petitions to the Governor and Council from many tribal members, and numerous secondary sources, the paper will focus on four central issues which include territorial matters, political representation, the equitable management of tribal resources, and the concepts of acculturation and assimilation.
The study of Native Americans has acquired greater significance amongst historians, but many tribal histories, such as the nineteenth-century Penobscot, deserve further research; consequently, I have chosen to do my research on the Penobscot Indians. I chose this particular tribe because my life has been spent only a few miles from their reservation, and I have become interested in the young Native Americans with whom I am acquainted. The period of concern extends from Maine statehood in 1820 to approximately 1849 when the bulk of native petitions were sent to Augusta. This period in Penobscot history appealed to me because it is an area that is often overlooked in recent studies in Maine history. Indian history should be incorporated into other areas of history, not just in matters of the first European contact or during war times. Even when war was no longer a threat, Native Americans continued to be historical actors despite their smaller numbers and dwindling resources. Yes, Maine became a state in 1820, but what was happening in regards to Maine Indians is one question that usually is left unanswered.
"Appendix : 1820 Treaty Negotiation between the Penobscot Indian Nation and Maine" from Wabanaki Homeland and the New State of Maine: The 1820 Journal and Plans of Survey of Joseph Treat
Joseph Treat and Micah A. Pawling
In late September 1820, hoping to lay claim to territory then under dispute between Great Britain and the United States, Governor William King of the newly founded state of Maine dispatched Major Joseph Treat to survey public lands on the Penobscot and Saint John Rivers. Traveling well beyond the limits of colonial settlement, Treat relied heavily on the cultural knowledge and expertise of John Neptune, lieutenant governor of the Penobscot tribe, to guide him across the Wabanaki homeland... The groundwork for cooperation between Treat and Neptune [was] laid during the 1820 treaty negotiations in which both men participated and which were successfully concluded just over a month before their expedition departed from Bangor, Maine. -- Description adapted from University of Massachusetts Press
Edited with an introduction by Micah A. Pawling, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History and Native American Studies, University of Maine.
"Appendix : 1820 Treaty Negotiation between the Penobscot Indian Nation and Maine" posted in DigitalCommons@UMaine with permission of the author and of University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.
Lee D. Webb
This dissertation is a history of politics in Maine during the state’s formative period, the years from statehood until 1860. The history focuses on party conflict and on the development of organized political parties, particularly the Democratic and Republican parties. It concentrates on the structures and processes that politicians built, including party newspapers, county conventions, state conventions, legislative caucuses, and ultimately state committees and the office of state committee chair – all to compete effectively for power. During this 40-year period, parties also develop powerful new messages, campaign strategies, and developed leaders with the skills to accomplish these tasks.
I also argue that to understand these changes, it is necessary to be familiar with the “deep forces” that channeled Maine’s political and economic development. These are the state’s geography and its constitutional order. These forces produced in Maine a deeply fragmented state within in which both political party leaders and government leaders struggled.
Organized political parties first appeared in Maine in 1832, 12 years after Maine became a state. The force that pushed Democrats and the Whigs to create parties was their competition for patronage. In fact, the battle to control patronage would energize Maine’s political parties throughout this period.
It was the Democrats who first pioneered the development of new political structures and party organizations. In the 1830s and 1840 they dominated Maine’s politics. In the late 1840s and early 1850s it was the single – issue movement (prohibition, anti-slavery, and anti-Catholicism) that created political organizations that shook the Whigs and the Democrats to the very core. After absorbing the single-issue movements in 1856, the Republican Party would dominate the state.
Republican men like Hannibal Hamlin, John, L. Stevens, and James G. Blaine created a new Republican Party: centralized, professional, and disciplined. With annual mass state conventions, an army of state and national patronage office-holders, a well-funded party treasury, a compelling single-issue message, a strong state committee, and powerful state chairman, Maine would emerge as a “model” for Republican Parties in the North during the Civil War and the Gilded Age.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
"An act of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts relating to the separation of the district of Maine from Massachusetts proper, and forming the same into a separate and independent state": p. 1003-1009.
Extracts of laws and resolves relating to the separation of the district of Maine from Massachusetts proper.
Hand-drawn pen and ink map on blue paper identified by the caption: "A plan of the South half No. 5 North division on a scale of 160 Rods to an inch [1:11,880], County of Washington." The rectangular map is six lots wide and three lots deep and includes depiction of numbered lots with the acreage noted. Bodies of water are shaded with blue pencil. The lower left corner of the map has been torn away.
Pen and ink, hand-drawn map Township C Range 2 [Washington County, Maine] on vellum. Boundaries are labeled: No. 8 Range 3 Line S. 18° W 6 miles 28 rods; B Range 2 Line S.72° E 6 miles 86 rods; Monticello Line N 18° W 6 miles 28 rods; D Line N 72° W 6 miles 86 rods.
Lots include lot numbers, pencil and ink notations identifying bodies of water and homesteads. Bodies of water are shaded in blue. Other features are color-coded and coded with line patterns but the map lacks an interpretive key.