Maine History Timeline

Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in Maine History

Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in Maine history.

Early Maine dwellers are known as the "Red Paint" people because of the red clay they use to line the graves of their dead. They are followed by the Susquehanna culture, which is the first to use pottery.

Maine's two earliest Native American nations are the Micmac, of eastern Maine, and the Abenaki. These tribes often move several times each year, following the food supply. In the spring, they fish in the rivers and plant corn, squash, and beans along the rivers. In the winters, they venture deep into the forests of Maine to hunt for game.

By the time Europeans arrive in the region, the Passamaquoddy and Penobscots are also living in the area.

Maine, the largest of the six New England states, lies at the northeastern corner of the country. Maine became the 23rd state on March 15, 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Missouri to enter the union as a slave state and Maine as a free state. Maine is bounded by the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick, and by New Hampshire.

16th Century Maine History Timeline

1524 - Giovanni da Verranzano became the first confirmed European to explore the coast of Maine.

1597 - Simon Ferdinando, a Portugese Navigator, working for the British Crown, lands on the Coast of Maine, looking for treasure.

17th Century Maine History Timeline

1604 - A French contingency led by Pierre du Guast Sieur de Monts establishes the first recorded European colony in Maine at the mouth of the St. Croix River.

1604-1605 - French Cartographer Samuel de Champlain explores and maps portions of the Maine coastline and the Penobscot River.

1607 - The British establish the Fort Popham Colony which does not last the brutal winter.

1622 - Sir Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason are granted rights to lands which make up what is now Maine and New Hampshire. Gorges became the first person to title the territory "Maine".

1623 - First sawmill in America.

1636 - Richmond Island Fishermen boycott jobs (possibly the first strike in the new colonies!)

1652 - Maine is annexed as a frontier territory by Massachusetts. The strategic importance of Maine is established as Massachusetts officials considered it the first line of defense against potential French and Indian invasions.

1658 - Massachusetts takes over Casco Bay, completing annexing of Maine lands.

1675 - King Phillip's War begins what will be a long and arduous battle between the English and the French and Indians for control of the North American territories.

1675 - 1763 - This time period is marked by continuous conflict between the North American powers. What began with King Phillip's War ended with France surrendering their holdings in the new world to the English at the finish of the Seven Years War. During this time, Maine bore the brunt of several attacks by the French and Indian forces.

18th Century Maine History Timeline

1759 - America's First Female Novelist, Madam Wood (Sally Sayward Barrell) was born at York.

1761 - First Pile bridge in North America built at York.

1775 -

  • First naval battle of the Revolutionary War occurs off the coast of Machias.
  • Benedict Arnold marches a band of revolutionaries through Maine in a failed attempt to capture British strongholds in Quebec City and Montreal.

1785 - First newspaper in Maine, Falmouth Gazette, was established for the expressed purpose of promoting separation from Massachusetts.

1794 - Bowdoin College becomes Maine's first post-secondary institution.

19th Century Maine History Timeline

1819 - Massachusetts agrees to allow The District of Maine to petition for statehood.

1820 -

  • As a result of the Missouri Compromise, Maine becomes its own state.
  • Maine, by State Constitution, becomes the first state to give suffrage and school privileges to all, regardless of race.

1839 - Governor Fairfield declares war on England over a boundary dispute between New Brunswick and northern Maine. This is the first and only time a state has declared war on a foreign power. The dispute was settled, however, before any blood was shed.

1842 - The Webster - Ashburton Treaty of 1842 settled the Maine/New Brunswick border dispute as both sides compromised on a new boundary between the two territories.

1851 -

  • Harriet Beecher Stowe begins writing Uncle Tom's Cabin in Brunswick, Maine. This novel would later serve as a source of inspiration for abolitionists prior to the Civil War.
  • First state to outlaw the sale of all alcoholic beverages.

1860 - Paris, Maine native, Hannibal Hamlin is named Abraham Lincoln's Vice President.

1863 - Brunswick native, Joshua Chamberlain successfully defended Little Round Top against confederate troops at the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War. Chamberlain's actions arguably served as the turning point of that battle.

1866 - A great fire destroys much of downtown Portland in the area now known as the Old Port.

1876 - Portland is struck by a freak snowstorm on the Fourth of July.

1884 - Winslow Homer settles at Prouts Neck in Scarborough and James G. Blaine, Republican Presidential nominee, suffers narrow defeat to Grover Cleveland.

1888 - Melville W. Fuller, a native of Maine, becomes the Chief Justice of the US Supreme court.

1898 - US Battleship "Maine" is sunk in Havana Harbor, an incident which helps trigger the Spanish-American War. "Remember the Maine" becomes a war slogan

20th Century Maine History Timeline

1905 - First forest fire lookout station in America established at Squaw Mountain, near Greenville.

1917 - United States enters World War 1; the Maine Legislature appropriates $1 million for war purposes.

1918 - Armistice is declared. Maine's contribution to the war effort amounts to $116 million and 35,000 men.

1920 - September at the time, women of Maine are the first to exercise the franchise.

1931 - Governor Percival Baxter begins buying land in Northern Maine for the purpose of establishing a game reserve. Over the course of 30 years, Baxter would purchase over 90,000 acres. This land was generously donated toward the establishment of Baxter State Park.

1934 - State Prohibition Law is repealed, making the sale of liquor legal for the first time in 84 years.

1936 - Most disastrous floods in Maine history result in losses totalling $25 million

1941 - President Roosevelt comes ashore at Rockland after signing the Atlantic Charter with British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill

1947 - A disastrous forest fire sweeps the Maine coast, destroying more than 1,000 homes, leveling seven communities and causing damage to 50 more, destroys 17,000 acres of Acadia National Park, and blackens some 200,000 additional acres of woodland.

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 women to serve in both houses of Congress.

1955 - Movie musical, " Carousel" is filmed at Boothbay Harbor.

1956 - First American atomic submarine, USS Swordfish, is launched at Kittery-Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

1957 - Election Day in Maine is moved from September to November with the rest of the nation.

1958 - Edmund Muskie is the first Maine Democrat ever elected to Congress.

1961 -

  • First Polaris submarine, USS Abraham Lincoln, is launched at Kittery-Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
  • The construction of "Telstar" communications satellite in Andover, Maine, marks the beginning of the global communications revolution.

1968 - The University of Maine system is established, creating public post - secondary institutions in various parts of the state.

1974 - James Longley is elected Governor of Maine. He becomes the first popularly elected independent governor in the history of the United States.

1979 - Rumford native, Senator Edmund Muskie replaces Cyrus Vance as President Carter's Secretary of State.

1980 - President Carter signs the Indian Land Claims agreement.

1984 - Freeport native, Joan Benoit Samuelson becomes the first gold medal winner in the inaugural women's Olympic marathon event at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, CA.

1988 - Waterville native, Senator George Mitchell is named the US Senate Majority Leader.

1994 - Brunswick resident Angus King becomes only the second popularly elected independent governor in United States history.

1997 - Bangor native, Senator William Cohen is sworn in as President Clinton's Secretary of Defense.

21st Century Maine History Timeline

2000 - State Legislature outlawed all racist or derogatory town names that included "squaw" or "Negro"

2002 - John E. Baldacci was elected Governor of Maine and reelected in 2006.

2007 - French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, visited President Bush at family home in Maine

2009 - New record low temperature for state was set at -50‚°F in January

2010 - Prospect Harbor's sardine cannery shut down - the last sardine cannery in the U.S.

2012 - Senator Olympia Snowe made surprise announcement that she would retire and not seek reelection

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