Maine History Timeline

By | May 12, 2022

Will Rogers once quipped, “Have you ever seen a place that looks like it was built just to enjoy? Well, this whole Maine is looking that way towards me.”

In fact, Maine’s stunning landscape is a by-product of the last Ice Age, as a massive glacier cut the straight coastline into hundreds of bays, inlets and harbors. The receding ice sheet has also formed some 2,000 rocky islands along its jagged coastline.

This part of the earth, like all of North America, has been inhabited by Indian tribes for many centuries. Their peaceful harmony with the earth ended when European exploration of the Americas began.

Five hundred years before Columbus discovered America, it is believed that Leif Erickson and a crew of Viking sailors explored the coast of Maine, landed, and may have attempted to establish a settlement.

In 1604 a French contingent that included Samuel de Champlain, the legendary explorer, were the first Europeans to settle here. They named this entire region Acadia, a stretch of land that included parts of eastern Quebec , the Maritime regions, and all of New England.

The first European colony (Popham) was established in 1607. It only lasted one winter. This was followed by other English settlements in the early 17th century, settlements that were also ravaged by brutal winters and ongoing Indian attacks; most did not survive.

  • Topschoolsintheusa: Guides to study in Maine, including geography, climate, economy, and tourism of the state.
  • A2zcamerablog: Offers general information about Maine, covering history, population, economy and county list.
  • Campingship: State outline of Maine, including geography location, state capital, brief history and a list of largest counties by area.

In 1652 this loosely organized territory became part of the Massachusetts Bay Company, an English-controlled colony centered in Boston . As France and England fought for control of what is now called New England, Maine’s county continued to grow as settlers with thousands of farms built.

The French and Indian wars ended in 1763 with an English victory. That result subsequently ended all French the claims of Maine and most of North America. Around the end of the 18th century, under English rule, the population of Maine grew to more than 150,000 heart souls.

The British saw an opportunity to tax the newfound wealth of their America ‘s colonies, and Maine was no exception. Particularly disturbed by the Tea Tax, powerful landowners and merchants in England’s colonies revolted and they proudly (and boldly) declared their independence from Great Britain.

Maine timeline

1400s – 1500s

(1497) Explorer John Cabot claimed land near Cape Breton for King Henry VII

(1524) Explorer, Giovanni de Verranzano, first European to explore the coast of Maine

(1597) Portuguese navigator, Simon Ferdinando, was looking for treasure on the coast of Maine


(1604) First European colony in Maine established at the mouth of the Santa Cruz River by French

(1604 – 1605) The coastline of Maine and the Penobscot River, explored and mapped by the French cartographer, Samuel del Champlain

(1622) Sir Ferdinando Gorges, John Mason granted rights to present day lands of Maine, New Hampshire; Gorges named the area “Maine”

(1623) First sawmill in America established near York

(1652) Maine annexed as frontier territory by Massachusetts

(1675) King Philip’s War started between the English, French and Indians

(1675 – 1763) Continuous conflict between North American forces


(1761) First lay down the bridge built in York

(1765) A mob seized a number of tax seals in Falmouth; assaulted customs officers

(1774) A group of men burned a shipment of tea in York

(1775) First Revolutionary War naval battle recaptured coast of Machias; British warships fired upon, bombing Falmouth; Benedict Arnold, a group of revolutionaries marched through Maine, failed in an attempt to capture British strongholds in Canada

(1785) Falmouth Gazette established – Maine’s first newspaper


(1812) Bangor, other parts of Maine captured by the British

(1820) Maine became 23rd state; first state to give suffrage, school privileges to all

(1832) State capital established at Augusta

(1839) Governor Fairfield declared war on England over border conflict between New Brunswick, northern Maine

(1842) Webster-Ashburton Treaty settled the Maine/New Brunswick boundary dispute

(1851) Maine first states to outlaw the sale of alcoholic beverages

(1852) Harriet Beecher Stowy Brunswick, wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”

(1860) Maine native, Hannibal Hamlin, named Vice President Abraham Lincoln

(1863) Joshua Chamberlain, a native of Maine, defended Little Round Top from the allies at the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War

(1866) Fire destroyed much of downtown Portland

(1876) On July 4, a strange snowstorm hit Portland

(1888) Maine native, Melville W. Fuller, became US Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

(1898) US Battleship “Maine” soaked Havana Harbor


  • (1905) America’s first wildfire observation station installed at Mount Skuow
  • (1917) Maine legislature appropriated $1 million for World War I purposes
  • (1920) Women gained the right to vote
  • (1931) Governor Percival Baxter bought land in northern Maine; land donated to the establishment of Baxter National Park
  • (1934) State prohibition laws annulled
  • (1936) Flood caused $25 million in losses
  • (1947) Wildfire destroyed over 1,000 homes, leveled seven communities, destroyed 17,000 acres of Acadia National Park
  • (1948) Maine native, Margaret Chase Smith, elected to US Senate, first woman to be elected to this office, first woman to serve both houses of Congress
  • (1955) Musical “Carousel” filmed in Boothbay Harbor
  • (1956) First US nuclear submarine, USS Swordfish, launched at Kittery Portsmouth Navy Yard
  • (1957) Election Day moved from September to November
  • (1958) Edmund Muskie, first Democrat from Maine, elected to Congress
  • (1961) Submarine Polaris, USS Abraham Lincoln, launched at Kittery-Portsmouth Navy Yard; Telstar communications satellite built in Andover
  • (1974) James Longley elected governor, first independent governor in the US.
  • (1979) Edmund Muskie appointed President Carter Secretary of State
  • (1980) President Carter signed Indian Land Claim Agreement, US paid $80 million to Passamaquoddy, Penobscot Indians
  • (1984) Joan Benoit Samuelson of Maine, first gold medal winner in the inaugural women’s Olympic marathon
  • (1988) Maine-born Senator George Mitchell, titled US Senate Majority Leader
  • (1997) Senator William Cohen appointed President Clinton Secretary of Defense


  • (2000) Legislative assembly of the state, outlawed all racist or derogatory city names that included Squaw or Negro
  • (2007) The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, visited President Bush at the family home in Maine
  • (2009) New record low temperature for state set at -50°F in January
  • (2010) Vista Harbor Sardine Cannery closed – last sardine cannery in the US.
  • (2012) Senator Olympia Snow made a surprise announcement that she would retire and not seek re-election

Maine History