The State of Maine attained its Statehood on March 15, 1820 becoming the 23rd state. Maine, the largest of the New England States, consists of 33,215 miles with a population of 1,339,192 (Maine Quickfacts). The highest point in Maine is Mt. Katahdin at 5,268 ft. The State Motto is Dirigo, (derived from the Latin term I direct or I lead) and it goes by the nickname of “Pine Tree State.” The Capital was first located in Portland, Maine; however, looking for a more central location, the legislature, in 1832, selected the city of Augusta.
Prior to settlement by the Europeans, the states earliest inhabitants have been dated back over 4,000 years and were known as the “Red Paint” people. The earliest Indian nations included the Micmacs and Abenakis. Of the many Indian tribes that once inhabited the land only two remain today, they are the Passamaquoddies and the Penobscot tribes.
Permanent English settlements began to appear as early as the 1620s, however, harsh winters, rugged climate deprivations and Indian attacks wiped out many of the early settlements. As Maine entered the 18th century, only a half dozen settlements still survived.
The early 1800’s was a turning point for Maine. Disputes between England and the French, political discontentment and differences with Massachusetts and conflicts with the Indians all added to Maine’s separation from Massachusetts. Upon separation, Maine was admitted as a free state in 1820. Once this occurred, a period of tremendous economic growth followed.
Names in Politics
Some of the Maine’s distinguished political leaders of our time include James G. Blaine, Thomas Reed, Margaret Chase Smith, former U.S. Secretary of State Edmund S. Muskie and George J. Mitchell and former Senator Olympia J.Snowe. Senators Susan M. Collins and Angus King currently represent Maine; both are well known within the political arena.
Throughout the 19th century, Maine continued on a relatively prosperous course. Mining, lumbering, fishing and shipbuilding boomed. Ice harvesting, granite and lime quarrying thrived. Water-powered factories also developed as important industries.
Manufacturing is still recognized as the largest segment in the state’s economy. Farming has struggled due to unfavorable soil and climate conditions. Maine is known as one of America’s largest blueberry growing states followed by potatoes. Many varieties of granite have been used nationwide; however, much of Maine’s abundant natural and industrial resources, to this day, have remained undeveloped and untouched.
Famous People of Maine
The list of Maine notables below is by no means all-inclusive:
- Anna Kendrick born in Maine, movie actress. She played Jessica Stanley in The Twilight Saga and nominated for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the film, “Up in the Air”.
- Patrick Dempsey, popular Grey’s Anatomy actor, nicknamed Dr. McDreamy.
- Harriet Beecher Stowe is known as a novelist and abolitionist. She wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin“.
- E.B. White moved to Maine in 1938 and wrote such classics as, “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little”.
- Dorothea Dix known as a humanitarian and social reformer; created the first generation of mental asylums.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is best known as America’s first professional poet.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne is author of the classic, “The Scarlet Letter”.
- Stephen King is a well-established author and writer of horror and suspense novels.
- Milton Bradley designed the board game, “The Checkered Game of Life” among games and game manuals.
- Joshua Chamberlain served as governor, served as a Civil War General and the recipient of the Medal
- David E. Kelley is writer and producer of such TV shows as, “Hill Street Blues”, “L.A. Law”, “Ally McBeal”, “The Practice” and “Boston Legal”.
- Judd Nelson is an actor and know for his roles in, “St. Elmo’s Fire”, “The Breakfast Club” and the TV series, “Suddenly Susan”.
- Simon Dumont, the 2004 and 2005 X Games Gold Medalist (Ski Halfpipe).
Over 80% of Maine consists of forest along with approximately 2,200 lakes and 5,000 streams and rivers (Moosehead Lake being the largest). Maine’s two great parks are Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park which includes the northern end of the Appalachian Trail at Mt. Katahdin in northern Maine wilderness.
The four seasons of Maine provides a wide variety of recreation and scenery to Mainers and tourists alike. Maine’s plentiful forest, beaches, rivers and streams, parks and winter activities make it a prime choice for tourists to come and enjoy the natural beauty found no matter what time of year.
Whether a first time visitor or returning, the people of Maine extend a very special “welcome” and hope you enjoy your travels and time spent in the Pine Tree State of Maine.