The District of Maine was the governmental designation for what is now the U.S. state of Maine from October 25, 1780 to March 15, 1820, when it was admitted to the Union as the 23rd state. The district was a part of the state of Massachusetts (which prior to the American Revolution was the British Province of Massachusetts Bay).
|District of Maine|
|Part of Massachusetts|
|•||Missouri Compromise: Statehood||March 4, 1820|
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Originally settled in 1607 by the Plymouth Company, the coastal area between the Merrimack and Kennebec rivers, as well as an irregular parcel of land between the headwaters of the two rivers, became the Province of Maine in a 1622 land patent. In 1629, the patent was split, creating an area between the Piscataqua and Merrimack rivers which was named the Province of New Hampshire. By 1658, the Massachusetts Bay Colony had integrated the Province of Maine (formerly known as New Somersetshire) into its jurisdiction.
The northeastern portion of present-day Maine was first sparsely occupied by Maliseet Indians and French settlers from Acadia. The lands between the Kennebec and Saint Croix rivers were granted to the Duke of York in 1664, who had them administered as Cornwall County, part of his proprietary Province of New York. In 1688, these lands (along with the rest of New York) were subsumed into the Dominion of New England. English and French claims in western Maine would be contested, at times violently, until the British conquest of New France in the French and Indian War. With the creation of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1692, the entirety of what is now Maine became part of that province. The region was first administered as York County, which was subdivided by the creation in 1760 of Cumberland and Lincoln counties.
When Massachusetts adopted its state constitution in 1780, it created the District of Maine to manage its northernmost counties, bounded on the west by the Piscataqua River and on the east by the Saint Croix River. By 1820, district had been further subdivided with the creation of Hancock, Kennebec, Oxford, Penobscot, Somerset, and Washington county.
A movement for Maine statehood began as early as 1785, and in the following years several conventions were held to effect this. Starting in 1792 five popular votes were taken but all failed to reach the necessary majorities. During the War of 1812 the British and Canadian Forces occupied a large portion of Maine including everything from the Penobscot River east to the New Brunswick border. A weak response by Massachusetts to this occupation contributed to increased calls in the Maine district for statehood.
The Massachusetts General Court passed enabling legislation on June 19, 1819 separating the District of Maine from the rest of the State. The following month, on July 19, voters in the district approved statehood by 17,091 to 7,132.
|County||For statehood||For status quo|
The results of the election were presented to the Massachusetts Governor's Council on August 24, 1819. The Maine Constitution was unanimously approved by the 210 delegates to the Maine Constitutional Convention in October 1819. On February 25, 1820, the General Court passed a follow-up measure officially accepting the fact of Maine's imminent statehood.
At the time of Maine’s request for statehood, there were an equal number of free and slave states. Pro-slavery members of the United States Congress saw the admission of another free state, Maine, as a threat to the balance between slave and free states. They would only support statehood for Maine if Missouri Territory, where slavery was legal, would be admitted to the Union as a slave state. Maine became the nation's 23rd state on March 15, 1820, following the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave-holding state and Maine as a free state.
Massachusetts gained three seats after the 1810 Census, all of which were added to the District of Maine. Its elections were held November 5, 1812, but since Massachusetts law required a majority for election, which was not met in the 19th district, a second ballot was held there January 6, 1813.1818–1819 United States House of Representatives elections in Massachusetts
Massachusetts elected its members November 2, 1818. Massachusetts's electoral law required a majority for election, necessitating additional elections in five districts on April 5, 1819 and July 26, 1819.
This was the last election in which the District of Maine was part of Massachusetts. The District became the State of Maine during the 16th Congress.Albion Parris
Albion Keith Parris (January 19, 1788 – February 11, 1857) was the 5th Governor of Maine, a United States Representative from the District of Maine, Massachusetts, a United States Senator from Maine, a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Maine, an Associate Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and the 2nd Comptroller of the Currency for the United States Department of the Treasury.Cyrus King
Cyrus King (September 6, 1772 – April 25, 1817) was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts, half-brother of Rufus King.Ezekiel Whitman
Ezekiel Whitman (March 9, 1776 – August 1, 1866) was a Representative from Maine, both when it was the District of Maine within Massachusetts and after it became an independent state. He was born in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts on March 9, 1776. He graduated from Brown University in 1795. He studied law, was admitted to the bar and practiced in New Gloucester, Maine and in Portland, Maine (both communities a district of Massachusetts until 1820.
He was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1806 to the Tenth Congress. He was elected as a Federalist from Massachusetts to the Eleventh Congress (March 4, 1809 – March 3, 1811). He was a member of the executive council in 1815 and 1816. He was elected to the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Congresses (March 4, 1817 – March 3, 1821). Whitman was a delegate to the convention in 1819 that framed the first State constitution of Maine. He was elected to the Seventeenth Congress from Maine and served from March 4, 1821, to June 1, 1822, when he resigned.
He served as a judge of the court of common pleas of Maine 1822-1841. He was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1838 to the Twenty-sixth Congress. Whitman served as chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court 1841-1848. He retired in 1852 and returned to East Bridgewater, Massachusetts where he died on August 1, 1866.Francis Carr (District of Maine politician)
Francis Carr (December 6, 1751 – October 6, 1821) was a U.S. Representative from the District of Maine, which was then part of Massachusetts. He was also the father of U.S. Congressman James Carr, and the founder of a political and mercantile family in Bangor, Maine.
Carr was born and attended common schools in Newbury, Massachusetts. He later moved to Haverhill, Massachusetts, married Mary Elliot (b. 1755 in Amesbury), and engaged in the mercantile and shipbuilding business. He also represented Haverhill in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.George Bradbury
George Bradbury (October 10, 1770 – November 7, 1823) was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts. He also served one term (1822) in the Maine Senate, representing Cumberland County, Maine.
Born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, Bradbury graduated from Harvard University in 1789. He studied law. He was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Portland, Maine (until 1820 a district of Massachusetts). He served as member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives 1806–1812.
Bradbury was elected as a Federalist to the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Congresses (March 4, 1813 – March 3, 1817).
He was an unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1816. He resumed the practice of law. He served as associate clerk of the Portland Court 1817–1820. He served as member of the State senate in 1822. He died in Portland, Maine, November 7, 1823 and was interred in Portland's Eastern Cemetery.George J. Mitchell
George John Mitchell Jr. (born August 20, 1933) is an American lawyer, businessman, author, and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, Mitchell served as a United States Senator from Maine from 1980 to 1995 and as Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995. He briefly served as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Maine from 1979 to 1980.
Since retiring from the Senate, Mitchell has taken up a variety of positions in politics and business. He has taken a leading role in negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland and the Middle East, being appointed United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland (1995–2001) by President Clinton and as United States Special Envoy for Middle East Peace (2009–2011) by President Barack Obama. He was a primary architect of the 1996 Mitchell Principles and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, and was the main investigator in two "Mitchell Reports", one on the Arab–Israeli conflict (2001) and one on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball (2007).
Mitchell served as chairman of The Walt Disney Company from March 2004 until January 2007, and later as chairman of the international law firm DLA Piper. He was the Chancellor of Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, from 1999 to 2009. Mitchell also has served as a co-chair of the Housing Commission at the Bipartisan Policy Center.James Carr (Massachusetts politician)
James Carr (September 9, 1777 – August 24, 1818), son of U.S. Congressman Francis Carr, was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Maine, then a District of Massachusetts.
Carr was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, on September 9, 1777. He attended Phillips Exeter and Byfield Academies, and then went to sea as clerk on the U.S.S. Crescent. He served two years as secretary to the United States Consul at Algiers. He then joined his parents (who had migrated to Bangor, Maine), engaging in mercantile pursuits and serving as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives (1806–1811) for the District of Maine.
Carr was elected as a Federalist to the Fourteenth United States Congress (1815–1817), the second person from Bangor to occupy that office (following his father).
Carr was drowned in the Ohio River on August 24, 1818. While traveling with his family on a steamboat, his 9-year-old daughter Mary fell overboard just below Louisville, Kentucky, and Carr entered the water in a failed attempt to save her. Neither of their bodies were ever recovered, though a memorial to Carr was erected at Bangor's Mount Hope Cemetery.Carr was married to Betsey Stelle Jarvis, who migrated to Illinois along with two brothers following the tragedy on the river. The Carrs remained a prominent mercantile and political family in Bangor despite James' death (see Francis Carr).Mark Langdon Hill
Mark Langdon Hill (June 30, 1772 – November 26, 1842) was United States Representative from Massachusetts and from Maine. He was born in Biddeford (then a district of Massachusetts) on June 30, 1772. He attended the public schools, then became a merchant and shipbuilder in Phippsburg. He was an overseer and trustee of Bowdoin College. He is the nephew of John Langdon. NH governor, Senator and patriot.
Hill was elected a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives,and served in the Massachusetts State Senate. He served as judge of the court of common pleas in 1810. He was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1816. He was elected as a Democratic-Republican from Massachusetts to the Sixteenth Congress (March 4, 1819 – March 4, 1821). Hill and John Holmes were the two of the seven representatives from the district of Maine willing to vote for the Missouri compromise, which on a 90-87 vote allowed Maine to become a state at the cost of letting Missouri be a slave state. They were both strongly attacked in the Maine press for this compromise.
Hill was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Seventeenth Congress from Maine after the state was admitted to the Union (March 4, 1821 – March 4, 1823). He was postmaster of Phippsburg 1819-1824. He was appointed as a collector of customs at Bath in 1824. Hill died in Phippsburg on November 26, 1842. His interment was in the churchyard of the Congregational Church in Phippsburg Center.Massachusetts's 15th congressional district
Massachusetts's fifteenth congressional district is an obsolete district. It was also for a short time in the early 19th century a Massachusetts District of Maine. It was eliminated in 1943 after the 1940 Census. Its last location was in eastern Massachusetts at Cape Cod. Its last Congressman was Charles L. Gifford, who was redistricted into the ninth district.Massachusetts's 16th congressional district
Massachusetts's sixteenth congressional district is an obsolete district. It was also for a short time in the early 19th century a Massachusetts District of Maine. It was eliminated in 1933 after the 1930 Census. Its last location was in eastern Massachusetts at Cape Cod. Its last Congressman was Charles L. Gifford, who was redistricted into the fifteenth district.Orchard Cook
Orchard Cook (March 24, 1763 – August 12, 1819) was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.
Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Cook attended the public schools, and engaged in mercantile pursuits.
He served as Assessor of Pownalborough in 1786,and Town clerk of New Milford, in the District of Maine from 1795 to 1797. He was a Justice of the Peace, served as judge of the court of common pleas for Lincoln County 1799–1810, was appointed assistant assessor of the twenty-fifth district in November 1798, and served as overseer of Bowdoin College from 1800 to 1805.
Cook was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Congresses (March 4, 1805 – March 3, 1811).
He was not a candidate for renomination in 1810. He then served as Sheriff of Lincoln County in 1811, and Postmaster of Wiscasset, Maine, from 1811 until his death there August 12, 1819. He was interred in Evergreen Cemetery.Peleg Wadsworth
Peleg Wadsworth (May 6, 1748 – November 12, 1829) was an American officer during the American Revolutionary War and a Congressman from Massachusetts representing the District of Maine. He was also grandfather of noted American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.Wadsworth was born in Duxbury, Massachusetts, to Peleg and Susanna (Sampson) Wadsworth. He graduated from Harvard College with an A.B. (1769) and an A.M. (1772), and taught school for several years in Plymouth, Massachusetts, with his former classmate Alexander Scammel. There he met Elizabeth Bartlett (1753 to 1825), whom he married in 1772.Phineas Bruce
Hon. Phineas Bruce (June 7, 1762 – October 4, 1809) was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts who was unable to serve in the U.S. Congress due to his declining health.Richard Cutts
Richard Cutts (June 28, 1771 – April 7, 1845) was a United States Representative from Massachusetts. Born on Cutts Island, Saco, Massachusetts (now part of Maine), he attended rural schools and Phillips Academy, Andover. He graduated from Harvard University in 1790, studied law, and engaged extensively in navigation and commercial pursuits. He was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1799 and 1800, and was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Seventh and the five succeeding Congresses, serving from March 4, 1801 to March 3, 1813. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1812 to the Thirteenth Congress, and was appointed superintendent general of military supplies and served from 1813 to 1817. He was then appointed Second Comptroller of the Treasury on March 6, 1817, and served in this capacity until March 21, 1829. Cutts died in Washington, D.C.; initial interment was in St. John's Graveyard, and in 1857 reinterment was in Oak Hill Cemetery.
He was the husband of Dolley Madison's sister Anna, and thus President James Madison's brother-in-law. His grandson James M. Cutts was a recipient of the Medal of Honor.Silas Lee
Silas Lee (July 3, 1760 – March 1, 1814) was a United States Representative from Massachusetts. Born in Concord, Massachusetts, he pursued classical studies and graduated from Harvard University in 1784. He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1793, 1797, and 1798.
Lee was elected as a Federalist to the 6th and 7th Congresses and served from March 4, 1799, until August 20, 1801, when he resigned. He was appointed by President Thomas Jefferson to be United States Attorney for the District of Maine on January 6, 1802, and served until his death; he was justice of the peace and of the quorum in 1803, and probate judge from 1805 to 1814. In 1810 he was chief judge of the Court of Common Pleas. He died in Wiscasset, Maine; interment was in Evergreen Cemetery.United States District Court for the District of Maine
The U.S. District Court for the District of Maine (in case citations, D. Me.) is the U.S. district court for the state of Maine. The District of Maine was one of the original thirteen district courts established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, even though Maine was not a separate state from Massachusetts until 1820. The court is headquartered at the Edward T. Gignoux United States Courthouse in Portland, Maine and has a second courthouse in Bangor, Maine. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine represents the United States in criminal and civil litigation before the court. Halsey Frank was confirmed as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine on October 3, 2017.
Appeals from the District of Maine are heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).York County, Massachusetts
York County, Massachusetts was a county in what is now the U.S. state of Maine. It was established in 1652 when the Massachusetts Bay Colony first asserted territorial claims over the settlements of southern Maine, extending from the Piscataqua River to just east of the mouth of the Presumpscot River in Casco Bay. The county eventually grew to encompass effectively all of present-day Maine, although the interior was claimed by various Abenaki peoples, and the territory east of Penobscot Bay was claimed (and partly occupied) as part of French Acadia. By 1760 most of the Abenaki had either been wiped out or retreated northward toward the Saint Lawrence River, and New France had been conquered in the French and Indian War.
The large size of the county led to its division in 1760, with Cumberland and Lincoln counties carved out of its eastern portions. When Massachusetts adopted its state government in 1780, it created the District of Maine to manage its eastern territories. In 1805 the northern portion of York County was separated to form part of Oxford County. When Maine achieved statehood in 1820 all of the counties of the District of Maine became counties of Maine.