Make sure to celebrate Maine’s Birthday by sporting some Maine Bicentennial gear!
Featuring one of Maine’s classic state mottos, “Dirigo,” (which is Latin for “I Lead”) you can represent the love for your state and its 200 years of existence. From hats, t-shirts, and sweatshirts to stemless wine and pint glasses, these commemorative items will mark an important birthday for a state that has achieved so much, and has the potential to strive for more. “Proceeds from items will be used to fund commission-approved bicentennial events and programs through 2020” (Maine200.org).
As soon as the United States won its independence from Britain, Mainers were advocating for the state’s secession from Massachusetts. There were lots of reasons for Maine to be its own state — Maine and Massachusetts have never shared a border, their demographics were and remain different, and Maine’s then-booming fishing, shipbuilding, farming and lumbering industries were making the region its own economic powerhouse.
It took several ballots over four years, but finally on March 15, 1820 about 300,000 colonists were able to call the new state of Maine their home.
Here are some of Maine’s triumphs, obstacles, and highlights over the past 200 years:
- (1820) Maine becomes the 23rd state in the US.
- (1851) Harriet Beecher Stowe begins writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Brunswick, Maine.
- (1851) Maine is the first state to outlaw the sale of all alcoholic beverages (Prohibition begins).
(Harriet Beecher Stowe House, Brunswick, Maine)
(1866) A great fire due to 4th of July fireworks destroys much of downtown Portland.
(1929) Acadia National Park, on Mount Desert Island, is established.
(Painting of Great Fire, Portland, 1866, By: George Frederick Morse)
- (1933) The area around Mt. Katahdin Baxter State Park is named after former Gov. Percival Baxter (1921-1924) who personally donated the land for permanent preservation. Over 32 years Baxter donated 201,018 acres to the state.
- (1934) State Prohibition Law is repealed, making the sale of alcohol legal for the first time in 84 years
- (1947) Stephen King is born in Portland, Maine.
(Baxter State Park Access Road, Photo by: Benjamin Williamson)
(1948) Skowhegan native Margaret Chase Smith is elected to the US Senate, making her the first woman to ever be voted into this office and also the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress.
(1980) President Carter signs the Indian Land Claims agreement, allowing Maine tribes to receive $81.5 million in reparation for land taken from them.
- (1999) The 162-year-old Edwards Dam is broken apart by government order to allow more fish to swim upstream.
- (2003) Lisa-Marie’s Made in Maine opens a storefront on 170 Front Street in Bath, Maine.
- (2010) Lisa-Marie’s second location opens on 35 Exchange Street in Portland, Maine. 2020 marks 10 years here, supporting local artists from around the state!
- (2012) Maine and Maryland become the first states to approve same sex marriage.
- (2019) Janet Mills is elected as the first female governor of Maine.
Maine has 200 years worth of history. “The path to statehood echoes many issues in Maine today, and tied Maine to key national events and issues: the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Missouri Compromise, and, eventually, the Civil War” (Maine200.org). Feel free to visit your local library to find sources dating back to Maine’s past if you’d like to educate yourself more on the story behind our home state. Or, click here to discover more facts, stories, and online resources to learn about Maine.
Happy 200th Maine! Like the finer things in life, you just get better with age.