History of Maine
The original inhabitants of the region that today constitutes the state of Maine were different Algonquian speaking Wabanaki people, including the Penobscot, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Abenaki tribes. The first permanent European settlement in the region was established on Saint Croix Island in 1604 by French explorers, who proceeded to name the entire region. In 1607 the Plymouth Company established the first English settlement in the region at Popham. This settlement was rather short-lived, as its inhabitants returned to England after only 14 months.
The French have also established two Jesuit missions, one in 1609 at Penobscot Bay, and the other in 1613 on Mount Desert Island. The settlement of Castine was also established in 1613, and 12 years later Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour prompted the building of the Fort Pentagouet that was meant to protect the settlement. The region became known as the Province of Maine in 1622. The eastern parts of the region that were to the north of the Kennebec River still belonged to the territory of Sagadahock, and were not as densely populated as the rest of the region. The second larger settlement in the area, York, was established by Captain Christopher Levett, an English explorer in 1623. He was given these 6,000 acres of land by King Charles I of England, but the settlement still didn’t manage to survive.
The central parts of the region were inhabited by the Arosaguntacook tribe, or as they are also known, the Androscoggin tribe. They were one of the tribes of the Abenaki nation. This tribe was forced out of the region in 1690, while the King Philips War was being fought. They moved to Canada, precisely, St. Francis. The other tribes of the nation also didn’t fare particularly well in the battles in the Maine region, and most of them have eventually relocated to Canada.
The region that we today know as Maine was assigned in 1652 to Massachusetts Bay Colony. The English, along with the native tribes that were allied with them, constantly fought with the French for the control over the region in the 17th and 18th century. It was not unusual for the captives taken in numerous raids and skirmishes to be ransomed or even adopted by certain Native American tribes.
In 1740, the English have prevailed over the French forces in the region of Acadia, when the Province of Nova Scotia gained the control over the region around the Penobscot River, which combined with the territory of today’s New Brunswick and created the Sunbury County. The War of 1812 and the American Revolution have once again brought the region in the center of armed conflicts, this time between the English and the Americans. During these conflicts, Maine was occupied both times by the British forces. Even after the treaty that was to put an end to the Revolution was signed, the territory of Maine was not clearly and unambiguously defined. Once the United States were formed, the region was made a part of Massachusetts, but it wasn’t until 1842 and the Webster-Ashburton Treaty that the boundaries of the region were clearly defined.
In 1807, the residents of Maine forced a vote that would allow Maine to secede from Massachusetts, but the vote didn’t pass. The War of 1812 and the refusal of Massachusetts merchants to defend Maine from the British aggressors only additionally stirred up the passions of the inhabitants of Maine. It wasn’t until 1820 that Maine seceded and was admitted into the Union as the 23rd state. This was negotiated under the Missouri Compromise that was also meant to control the spread of slavery and that also helped Missouri to be admitted into the Union in 1821. The largest city, Portland, was the first capital of the state, until the capital was moved in 1832 to Augusta.
It is estimated that in 2010 the GSP of Maine was $52 billion. In the same year, the unemployment rate in the state was 7.4%. In 2007, per capita income of the state’s inhabitants was $33,991, which was the 34th highest per capita income in the United States.
Agriculture is one of the important industries contributing to Maine’s economy, with the main agricultural products being maple sugar and syrup, apples, wild blueberries, cattle, dairy products, eggs and poultry. Significant amounts of potatoes are being produced in the Aroostook County. The state’s economy also relies heavily on commercial fishing, especially groundfishing and lobstering. A number of Maine’s springs contribute to the developed bottled water industry.
Industrial products of the state include biotechnology, textile, food products, leather products, electronic equipment, wood and lumber products, and paper. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard located in Kittery and Bath Iron Works in Bath are important shipbuilding locations. Maine could also boast an important US Navy support base, the Naval Station Brunswick, which has been closed despite the government’s willingness to fund its restoration.
For a while Maine had the largest toothpick manufacturer in the nation, the Strong Wood Products. This plant was making 20 million toothpicks daily, but it was closed in 2003. Maine is also the state with the highest blueberry output. Another important industry of the state is outdoor recreation and tourism. Main tourist attractions of the state include hiking, camping, boating, skiing, snowmobiling, sport fishing and sport hunting.
The ports in Maine are crucial for the transportation of goods in the area, and Portland is officially the busiest port in New England. The number of large companies with headquarters in the state has been decreasing, but the state is still the home to some of the large companies including The Jackson Laboratory, Yarmouth based DeLorma and Cole Haan, Freeport based L.L. Bean, Portland based TD Bank and Unum, Scarborough based Hannaford Bros, Westbrook based IDEXX Laboratories and South Portland based Fairchild Semiconductor.
Personal income tax in the state comes in 4 brackets, ranging from 8.5% down to 2%. The sales rate tax in the state is fixed at 5%. Short term auto rental comes with a tax of 10%, while prepared food and lodging come with a 7% tax. Blueberry merchants need to keep track of their sales and are obliged to compensate the state with 1.5 cents for each pound of blueberries that they sell. Personal and real property is taxable in Maine, if not otherwise specified.
Maine Geography and Climate
Maine borders New Hampshire on the west, Quebec on the northeast, New Brunswick on the north and northeast, and it has Atlantic Ocean on the east and the south. This makes Maine the only state in the US that only borders one other state. Maine is the easternmost state in the nation, with Lubec being the easternmost town and Eastport being the easternmost city in the United States.
Maine holds the largest lake the entire territory of which is contained in the New England, the Moosehead Lake. Another lake worthy of mention is the South Twin Lake. The state can also boast some interesting geographical formations, including the North Rock and Machias Seal Island, both of which are claimed by both Canada and the United States. Maine is also where the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere, the Old Sow is located.
Maine is not densely populated; as a matter of fact it has fewer inhabitants per square mile than any of the other states that are east of the Mississippi River. This is partially due to the fact that some 90% of the state is covered in forests, which is what earned this state its nickname of ‘Pine Tree State’. Some of the forested areas are not even organized under local governments, and technically don’t belong to any of the local government units. One of such unorganized territories, Northwest Aroostook is found in the northern part of Maine, and even though it covers 2,668 square miles, it only has 27 inhabitants, meaning that the population density in that region is 1 person per 100 square miles.
According to the biome it belongs to, Maine is in the mixed forests and temperate broadleaf region, meaning that the most forests in the state are either New England Acadian Forest or mixed oaks forests. Maine’s coastline is 230 miles long. The easternmost point of the United State is located in the West Quoddy Head. The coastline of the state boasts a number of offshore islands, fishing villages, beaches and beautiful lighthouses, which help with the tourist appeal of the state.
Maine’s landscape is described as ‘drowned coast’, meaning that the sea has risen to the point where it had submerged parts of the shore, and only left the highest points exposed in the form of small islands or bays. This was partially caused by the fact that the topography of the state was formed through glacial activity. One of the most interesting evidences of such activities is the Somes Sound, the only fjord on the eastern seaboard that at certain points even reaches the depth of 175 feet. This depth not only enables the ships to navigate the fjord with ease, but also makes it a prime location for shipbuilding.
The state has a number of protected areas, including Saint Croix Island International Historic Site at Calais, Roosevelt Campobello International Park in the vicinity of Lubec, Maine Acadian Culture in St. John Valley, Appalachian National Scenic Trail and Acadia National Park in the vicinity of Bar Harbor, which is the only national park in New England.
The climate in Maine is generally characterized as humid continental, with humid and warm summers and snowy and rather cold winters, especially in the northern parts of the state. Naturally, the Atlantic Ocean has a moderating effect on the temperatures in the coastal region of the state. Sumer temperatures are ranging from 75 or 80 °F during the day to 50°F during the night, while winter brings the daily temperatures of 32 °F, with the nighttime lows going all the way down to 0 °F, usually in the northern regions of Maine.
The highest temperature in the state of 105 °F was recorded at North Bridgton in 1911, while the lowest temperature of −50 °F, which is the same as the New England’s lowest temperature ever, was recorded in 2009 at Big Black River. The state averages less than 20 days with thunderstorms per year, which makes it the state with the fewest thunderstorms to the east of the Rocky Mountains. Tornadoes are equally rare in the state, with the average two tornadoes per year.
Population of Maine
In 2011 population of Maine numbered 1,328,188 inhabitants, which presented a 0.01% decrease when compared to the previous year. In 2008 the state had 1,321,504 residents, which was a 0.5% or 6,520 people increase when compared to the previous year, or 3.7% or 46,582 people increase when compared to the year 2000. This was a combination of 64,863 deaths and 71,276 births in 2007, which resulted in a natural increase of 6,413 people and the increase caused by net migrations in and out of the state, which amounted to an increase of 5,004 people. Maine is the state with the lowest population density in the New England region, with only 41.3 people per square mile. Maine also has the lowest population density of all the states that are located on the eastern seaboard, in the American northwest, that have Atlantic coastline, and that are located to the east of Mississippi River. The population canter of the state is found in Kennebec County. The most densely populated area is the Greater Portland metropolitan area. Maine was one of only three states in 2009 the population of which has decreased.
In 2010 it was estimated that 94.4% of the state’s population is composed of non-Hispanic white people, 1.1% of African American people, 0.6% of American or Alaska Native, 1% of Asian, 0.1% of people of other races and 1.4% of the population consisted of multiethnic people. The largest ancestry groups in the state were English with 30.6% of the population belonging to this ancestry group, Acadian and French Canadian with 25% of the people, Irish with 18.3%, German with 8.3%, Italian with 5.8%, Scottish with 4.8%, Scotch-Irish with 2.6% and Polish with 2.3%. A number of people whose ancestors originally came from England will choose to declare their ancestry as ‘American’ if their families have been living in the US for long enough.
After New Hampshire, Maine has the second largest French American population in the United States. It is also the state with the highest percentage of non-Hispanic white people. Maine also has the largest percentage of people who consider French to be their first language, it is estimated that 5.28% of Maine’s population is composed of French speakers, while 92.25% are speaking English in their homes.
When it comes to religion, 82% of the state’s residents belong to one of the Christian denominations, which is further divided into 37% of Roman Catholics, 1% of other Christian denominations and 45% of Protestants, of which 16% belong to the Baptist church, 9% to Methodist, 8% Episcopal, 8% United Church of Christ, 6% Pentecostal, 3% Lutheran and 10% to other protestant or General Protestant groups. There are 1% of people belonging to some other denomination, and 17% of non-religious people in the state. A study conducted in 2010 has determined that Maine is the least religious state in the nation.
Maine Government and Legislation
Just like the governments of other states. Maine’s government consists of three branches, executive, legislative and judicial. There are three Constitutional Officers in the state - the State Attorney General, the State Treasurer and the Secretary of the State. Maine also has one Statutory Officer – the State Auditor.
Maine’s legislative branch is represented by a bicameral body (as is the case with all of the other states with the exception of Nebraska). This means that the General Assembly of the state is split into two houses, the upper house, Maine Senate that has 35 senators, and the lower Maine House of Representatives, which has 151 representatives. The duties of the legislative branch mainly revolve around introducing laws and either passing them or rejecting them. A law needs to be passed by both houses in order to be adopted, but can still be vetoed by the state Governor. However, if the houses gather a two thirds majority of the votes, they can overturn the Governor’s veto.
The state’s executive branch is in charge of executing the laws that were introduced by the legislative branch. The head of the executive branch is the Governor. Governor has a number of duties and powers including the appointing of judicial, military or civil officers, pardoning people found to be guilty of certain crimes and acting as the commander in chief of the state’s army and navy, as well as Maine National Guard. Governor is elected into four year terms, and can only serve two consecutive terms, before someone else needs to be appointed to the position of the Governor.
The judicial branch is supposed to interpret the laws of the state and apply them in particular cases. The highest institution in the judicial branch is the Maine Supreme Court. Supreme Court mainly deals with interpreting the constitutionality of certain cases, has cases relegated to it from other, lesser courts and in the rare cases when it has original jurisdiction, deals with the impeachments of the justices. Other state courts include the Probate Court, the Superior Court and the District Court. Apart from the probate judges, judges serve full time. The process of appointing a new judge starts with the judge being nominated by the state’s Governor. The Governor is supposed to find the candidate in a list that was supplied by a commission that usually consists of other judges and attorneys. One the Governor has chosen a candidate he or she needs to be confirmed by the legislative bodies. Judges are being appointed for seven year terms. Probate judges are elected for four year terms by the voter in the relevant counties.
Units of local government in Maine, just like in most of the other states, are counties. There are 16 counties in Maine: the Androscoggin County with the seat in Auburn, Aroostook County with the seat in Houlton, Cumberland County with the seat in Portland, Franklin County with the seat in Farmington, Hancock County with the seat in Ellsworth, Kennebec County with the seat in Augusta, Knox County with the seat in Rockland, Lincoln County with the seat in Wiscasset, Oxford County with the seat in Paris, Penobscot County with the seat in Bangor, Piscataquis County with the seat in Dover-Foxcroft, Sagadahoc County with the seat in Bath, Somerset County with the seat in Skowhegan, Waldo County with the seat in Belfast, Washington County with the seat in Machias and York County with the seat in Alfred.