Did You Know Maine Used To Be a Part of Massachusetts?

Maine’s statehood became a key factor in the Missouri Compromise

Grant Piper


(Library of Congress)

From 1780 until 1820, the lands that now comprise the state of Maine were part of the District of Maine, which was a part of a much larger Massachusetts. Maine was the first state to secede from another state to form a new one and one of only two states to do so (West Virginia being the other). The District of Maine was formally established by the 1780 adoption of the Massachusetts state constitution, which officially created the administrative area to the north.

But Maine was never very happy being a part of Massachusetts. Rumblings about secession and discontent with the Massachusetts state legislature eventually led to the state being divided in two giving us the map that most people recognize today.

Maine’s grievances against Massachusetts

It only took five years for Maine to start pushing for its statehood. They cited differences and distinctions between themselves and their southern Massachusetts counterparts. The movement picked up steam, and by 1792 votes were being held on the partition of Massachusetts. The problem was, the southern population had little desire to see their northern half leave. Five total votes were taken in the subsequent years, but none of them managed to reach the necessary vote count for the measure to take effect.

Then the British came during the War of 1812.

Maine was an easy target for the British forces during the war. Its close proximity to British controlled territory in Canada and the sparsely populated towns invited an invasion. The British occupied large swaths of Maine for the majority of the War of 1812. Worst of all, it seemed like the rest of the state of Massachusetts cared little for the plight of the District of Maine.

Maine’s residence felt that Massachusetts had abandoned them during their occupation and gave little care for a foreign army within its borders. This only fueled talks of secession even further. Tensions were inflamed more than ever before.

After the war, secession talk picked up once again, now with the war being a sore spot for the people of the northern…



Grant Piper

Professional writer. Amateur historian. Husband, father, Christian.