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Maine: The 23rd State

This revolutionary colony joined the Union in 1820.

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Maine became the 23rd state to join the Union on March 15, 1820. The native people called it home before European settlement began to shape the state as we know it today.

The first official European arrival was in 1524 with the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who claimed the area for France. The first attempts to colonize the area were unsuccessful. In 1607, the British Popham Plantation was established. The settlers were ill-prepared for the cold weather and harsh living. Nearly half returned to England at the beginning of winter, and then the rest left after only a year of trying to make the area their new home.

Remnants of Popham Fort

Still, people tried to settle in the area over the years. In 1652, the area became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which belonged to England. Competing to claim more territory, England and France fought over the region for the next one hundred or so years. After the French and Indian War ended in 1763, England was finally able to gain control, but that wouldn’t last long.

The American Revolution broke out. At the end of the war in 1783, some parts of Maine were still under British control. The 1838–1839 Aroostook War finally settled the border between Maine and British territory.

The 1800s gold rush had a lot of people leaving for the West. This reduced Maine’s population, but the state did well because it had a big port, which allowed it to transport supplies and people.

In 1820, Maine joined the Union as part of the Missouri Compromise. During this time of unrest over slavery, the country tried to balance the number of free and slave states. In this compromise, Missouri was allowed to be a slaveholding state while Maine was permitted to be a free state.

Interesting Facts

  • Do you like lobster? Roughly 90% of the nation’s lobster comes from the “mainland.”
  • A 16-year-old crewman came up with the idea of donut holes in 1847. It was a solution to the problem of the tasty treat not getting cooked in the middle.
Kelli Ballard

National Correspondent at and Kelli Ballard is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Kelli now resides in the Seattle area.

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