Friday, March 15, 2013


March 15, 2013


Portland, Maine* (JFK+50) Maine, a part of Massachusetts since the 1650s, became the 23rd state in the union 193 years ago today, March 15, 1820.

*Portland was the capital of the state of Maine from 1820 to 1851.  Augusta became the more centrally located capital in 1851. The greater Portland area, however, comprises a third of the state's population today.

                           Maine State House
                              Augusta (1965)
                    Photo by Jack E. Boucher

The people of the 30,000 square mile territory had campaigned for statehood for 35 years & achieved success when the Massachusetts legislature approved separation in 1819.

The admission of Maine, however, was much more complex.

In 1819, the nation was divided on the issue of slavery & sought to maintain a balance in the number of states where slavery was illegal (free states) & the number of states where slavery was legal (slave states).

That balance was about to be upset, however, with the admission of Missouri, a slave territory.

In 1820, Congress settled the matter with the Missouri Compromise, perhaps best known for the line dividing future free & slave territory.

Missouri would become a slave state & Maine would become a free state.  The balance was maintained & so was the peace between the North & the South, at least for another 40 years.

Missouri's early settlers were from the upper South.  They brought their slaves with them & lived largely along the Missouri River.  During the War Between the States (1861-1865), guerilla warfare was fought by opposing forces in the state.

Maine was noteworthy in the Civil War for its 20th Maine Regiment commanded by Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.  The regiment was successful in defending Little Round Top at the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863.

Today, Maine is a BLUE state having voted Democratic since 1992.  President Obama won her 4 electoral votes in 2012 by a margin of 15.3%.  Between 1856 & 1960, however, Maine was carried by only 1 Democrat & that was Woodrow Wilson in 1912.  FDR even lost the state in his 1936 landslide when he won 46 of 48 states.

It was so bad for Democrats in Maine that by that time the Republicans had a slogan which went "As Maine goes, so goes the nation!"  The Democrats, however, we proud to change that in 1936 to... "As goes Maine, so goes Vermont."

Missouri today is a RED state having voted Republican in every presidential election except 1992 & 1996 since 1980.  Governor Romney won Missouri's 10 electoral votes by 9.4% in 2012.

Both states have United States ships named in their honor which have played major roles in the history of the Republic.  

The USS Maine was at anchor in Havana, Cuba in 1898 when it exploded & that event played a role in the start of the Spanish-American War. 

The USS Missouri was at anchor in Tokyo, Japan when the surrender of the Japanese Empire brought the end of WWII.

                        You Tube Video