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Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. – Thomas A. Edison

March 15, 2009
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The State of Maine  is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, New Hampshire to the southwest, the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is the northernmost portion of New England and is the easternmost state in the contiguous United States. It is known for its scenery—its jagged, mostly rocky coastline; its low, rolling mountains; and its heavily forested interior — as well as for its seafood cuisine, especially lobsters and clams.

The original inhabitants of the territory that is now Maine were Algonquian-speaking peoples. The first European settlement in Maine was in 1604 by a French party. The first English settlement in Maine, the short-lived Popham Colony, was established by the Plymouth Company in 1607. A number of English settlements were established along the coast of Maine in the 1620s, although the rugged climate, deprivations, and Indian attacks wiped out many of them over the years. As Maine entered the 18th century, only a half dozen settlements still survived. American and British forces contended for Maine’s territory during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Maine was an exclave of Massachusetts until 1820, when as a result of the growing population, it became the 23rd state on March 15 under the Missouri Compromise.

Maine State House, designed by Charles Bulfinch, built 1829–1832

The original inhabitants of the territory that is now Maine were Algonquian-speaking Wabanaki peoples including the Abenaki, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscots. The first European settlement in Maine was in 1604 by a French party that included Samuel de Champlain, the noted explorer. The French named the entire area, including the portion that later became the State of Maine, Acadia. The first English settlement in Maine was established by the Plymouth Company at Popham in 1607, the same year as the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. Both colonies were predated by the Roanoke Colony by 22 years. Because the Popham Colony did not survive the harsh Maine winters and the Roanoke Colony was lost, Jamestown enjoys the distinction of being regarded as America’s first permanent English-speaking settlement. The coastal areas of western Maine first became the Province of Maine in a 1622 land patent. Eastern Maine north of the Kennebec River was more sparsely settled and was known in the 17th century as the Territory of Sagadahock.

The province within its current boundaries became part of Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1652. Maine was much fought over by the French and English during the 17th and early 18th centuries. After the defeat of the French in the 1740s, the territory from the Penobscot River east fell under the nominal authority of the Province of Nova Scotia, and together with present day New Brunswick formed the Nova Scotia county of Sunbury, with its court of general sessions at Campobello. American and British forces contended for Maine’s territory during the American Revolution and the War of 1812, and British forces occupied eastern Maine in both conflicts. The treaty concluding revolution was ambiguous about Maine’s boundary with British North America. The territory of Maine was confirmed as part of Massachusetts when the United States was formed, although the final border with British territory was not established until the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842. (Indeed, in 1839 Governor Fairfield declared war on Britain over a boundary dispute between New Brunswick and northern Maine. Known as the Aroostook War, this is the only time a state has declared war on a foreign power. The dispute was settled, however, before any blood was shed.

Because it was physically separated from the rest of Massachusetts and was growing in population at a rapid rate, Maine became the 23rd state on March 15, 1820 through the Missouri Compromise. This compromise allowed admitting both Maine and Missouri (in 1821) into the union while keeping a balance between slave and free states. Maine’s original capital was Portland, the largest city in Maine, until it was moved to Augusta in 1832 to make it more central within the state.

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