History of Maine. John Cabot, in 1497–98, and Giovanni da Verrazano, in 1524, may have sailed along the coast of Maine. In 1604 French colonists under Samuel de Champlain and the Sieur de Monts wintered at the mouth of the St. Croix River. In 1607 English settlers, led by George Popham and Raleigh Gilbert, were sent out by the Plymouth, or North Virginia, Company. They established a community, Sagadahoc, at the mouth of the Kennebec River, but a year later returned to England.
Efforts by Sir Ferdinando Gorges to plant English colonies led to the reorganization of the Plymouth Company as the Council for New England in 1620. Permanent communities grew up at Pemaquid, Saco, and Monhegan Island. In 1639 Gorges was granted a charter to the province of Maine." Colonists were brought in, and the town of Gorgeana (now York) in 1641 became the first chartered city in the English colonies. Gorges' proprietorship of Maine was contested by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After Gorges died in 1647, Massachusetts annexed many Maine communities. In 1691 Maine became by royal charter a district of Massachusetts.
In the warfare between the French in Canada and the English colonies, Maine was harassed by the Indian allies of the French. Whole communities were destroyed by Indian raids in King William's War (1689–97), Queen Anne's War (1701–13), and King George's War (1744–48).
The first naval battle of the Revolutionary War was fought in June, 1775, off Machias, when Americans captured a British frigate. In retaliation the British fleet destroyed Falmouth (now Portland).
|Important dates in Maine|
|1607||English settlers established the Popham Colony near the mouth of the Kennebec River but left in 1608.|
|1622||Maine lands were granted by royal charter to Sir Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason.|
|1641||Gorgeana (now York) became the first chartered English city in what is now the United States.|
|1677||Massachusetts gained clear title to Maine, which it had first claimed in the 1650's.|
|1775||The first naval battle of the Revolutionary War took place off the Maine coast.|
|1820||Maine became the 23rd state on March 15.|
|1842||The Webster-Ashburton Treaty settled a long dispute over the Maine-Canada border.|
|1851||Maine became the first state to outlaw the sale of alcoholic beverages. The law was in force until 1934.|
|1911||Maine adopted a direct-primary voting law.|
|1964||Maine voted for Lyndon B. Johnson, supporting a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1912.|
|1969||Maine adopted state income taxes.|
|1980||The U.S. government agreed to pay $81 1/2 million to the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Indians of Maine for lands seized during the late 1700's and early 1800's.|
|2000||The Maine Legislature passed a bill designed to lower the costs of prescription drugs in the state.|
|2003||The state's Legislature passed a bill to make low-cost health insurance available to Maine residents by 2009.|
Maine was again attacked by the British in the War of 1812. The war intensified Maine's feeling of isolation from the state seat of government in Massachusetts. Sentiment for separate statehood increased. In 1820 Maine was admitted to the Union as the 23rd state. The capital was at Portland until 1832, when it was moved to Augusta.
The northeastern boundary of the state was a source of dissension between Maine and New Brunswick, Canada, that led in 1839 to military action. The boundary was settled by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty in 1842.
Maine had its greatest growth in the first half of the 19th century, with shipbuilding, lumbering, and fishing as major industries. A state prohibition law, the first in the nation, was passed in 1846. Later, the Greenback and Populist movements had many adherents in Maine, where the economy remained agricultural long after other New England states had become industrialized.
Shipbuilding was stimulated by the two world wars, and the lumber industry grew with the expanded use of pulp paper. With its extensive forest lands and seacoast, Maine became a popular vacation area.
While tourism and shipbuilding kept the economy stable in the southwestern parts of the state, the north and central regions suffered in the late 20th century. Automation eliminated many of the new jobs that had been found in the pulp and paper industry, and foreign competition hurt the fishing business as well as the area of shoe manufacturing.
In 1958, Maine Governor Edmund S. Muskie became the first Democrat ever elected to the U.S. Senate by Maine voters. A further government change happened when state personal and corporate income taxes were approved for the first time in 1969.
In 1980 the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Maliseet Indian tribes dropped claims to nearly two-thirds of the state in return for a settlement of about $81,000,000. During the 1980's, Maine's economy underwent slow but steady growth, and the state's population increased by about one per cent a year. In 1991 Hurricane Bob caused severe property damage along the coast.
The environment underwent improvements in the late 20th century and continued into the next century, via both new laws and landscape changes. Waste procedures were improved, oil refineries were banned on the coasts. Some river dams were removed to allow fish to reach spawning areas. At the same time, fir and spruce forests were overharvested, and a fishing boom led to overfishing.
Health concerns led to several legislative changes in the early 21st century. The first of its kind, a bill was passed in 2000 to lower prescription drug prices. Although the pharmaceutical industry challenged the law in court, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Maine Rx to proceed in 2003. A health insurance plan aimed to make low-cost coverage available to state residents also passed in 2003, creating a need for a semiprivate agency to be formed to help residents get coverage through private insurers. In 2009, the government of Maine passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.