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A TIMELINE OF MAINE HISTORY: 1821 - the present

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Go to TIMELINE: through 1820

1821 Maine's first free high school, and the second free high school in the nation, is established in Portland.
1822 The Kennebec steamship begins its run between Portland and Portsmouth, N.H.
1824 The Maine State Prison is built in Thomaston.
1826 Maine's first large-scale icehouse is built on the Kennebec.
1827 The Fourdrinier paper-making machine comes to New England.
1828 Portland's Abyssinian Church is founded, the first African-American church in Maine.
1830 The Cumberland and Oxford Canal opens.
1832 A new State House is built in Augusta.

Maine's state capital moves there from Portland.

1834 The Maine Anti-Slavery Society forms.

The Maine Insane Hospital is built.

1836 The Bangor-Veazie Railroad is constructed - it is used mainly for transporting lumber.
1838 An earthquake shakes New England, causing damage in Maine.

Samuel Morse sends the world's first telegraphic message.

1839 The "bloodless" Aroostook War pits Canadians against Mainers over the northeastern boundary of the United States.

Thomas B. Reed is born in Portland.

China and Britain begin to fight the Opium War.

1842 The Webster-Ashburton Treaty establishes the northeastern border of Maine and the U.S.

Maine's first seafood cannery opens in Eastport.

1846 Failure of the potato crop in Ireland spurs many people to immigrate to the U.S.

The sewing machine is invented.

1847 Henry David Thoreau climbs Mt. Katahdin and later writes of his travels in The Maine Woods.
1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto.

U.S. territory expands in the Southwest as a result of the Mexican War.

1851 The Maine Law passes, prohibiting alcohol manufacture and sale in Maine.
1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes Uncle Tom's Cabin.
1853 Maine buys all the land within its boundaries that is still owned by Massachusetts.

Maine's Grand Trunk Railway is constructed, running from Portland to the St. Lawrence River.

1854 Bath's Old South Meeting House is burned by Know Nothing rioters.
1855 Portlanders rise up against Mayor Neal Dow in the June Riot.

The Maine State Seminary (Bates College) is incorporated.

1856 Hannibal Hamlin switches from the Democratic to the new Republican Party and is elected governor.
1858 Joseph Peavey, of Stillwater, invents an improved logging tool called the "peavey."
1859 Charles Darwin's Origin of Species is published.
1860 Hannibal Hamlin becomes Vice President under President Abraham Lincoln.

The first wave of French-Canadian immigration into Maine begins.

1861 The Civil War begins.
1862 The Maine Central Railroad is established.
1863 Joshua Chamberlain leads the 20th Maine regiment in a bayonet charge at the Battle of Little Round Top, Gettysburg.

President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, proclaiming all the slaves free.

1864 President Lincoln appoints William Pitt Fessenden to Secretary of the Treasury.
1865 The Confederate Army surrenders to the Union; the Civil War ends.
1866 A Great Fire razes much of Portland.
1867 The Canadian states are united as the Dominion of Canada.
1868 The Maine State College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts (now the University of Maine at Orono) opens its doors.
1869 The first transcontinental railroad begins operating.

Edwin Arlington Robinson is born.

Mainer Oliver Otis Howard founds Howard University, one of the nation's first colleges for African Americans.

1872 The Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church is built in Lewiston; it is the first French National church in Maine.
1873 The Maine Woman Suffrage Association is organized.

Louis Francis Sockalexis is born.

1875 The first lobster pound is established in Vinalhaven.

A new Maine law requires children between the ages of 9 and 15 to go to school for at least 12 weeks a year.

1876 The Poland Spring House is built.
1877 Marsden Hartley is born.
1878 The first commercial telephone exchange takes place.
1880 Le Messager newspaper is founded in Lewiston.

Two political parties claim control of the Maine legislature after a disputed election.

1882 The Knights of Labor become active in Maine.
1884 James G. Blaine runs for president, but is defeated by Grover Cleveland.

Bath Iron Works is founded.

1887 A new Maine law makes the maximum legal length of a workday ten hours.

Capital punishment is abolished in Maine.

1891 The American Federation of Labor becomes active in Maine.
1892 Edna St. Vincent Millay is born in Rockland.
1894 The Bangor and Aroostook Railroad begins its run, making Aroostook County and the northern woods more accessible to tourists.
1896 Sarah Orne Jewett writes The Country of the Pointed Firs.
1897 The International Paper Company is founded.

Cornelia "Fly Rod" Crosby becomes Maine's first registered guide.

F.E. and F.O. Stanley develop the steam-driven car.

1898 Charles Herbert Woodbury starts an art school and colony in Ogunquit.

The USS Maine sinks in Havana harbor, touching off the Spanish-American War.

1900 The Great Northern Paper mill is built in Millinocket.

Maine's population reaches 694,500.

1902 Great Britain wins dominion over South Africa in the Boer War.
1903 The Ford Motor Company engineers the assembly line.
1904 Construction on the Panama Canal begins.
1909 The Maine legislature passes the Fernald Law, making it illegal to export hydroelectric power outside of the state.
1910 The Central Maine Power Company is founded.

Japan annexes Korea.

1914 Prince Ferdinand is assassinated; WWI begins in Europe.
1915 The Turkish government kills one million Armenians.
1917 The Russian Revolution abolishes the monarchy.

The U.S. enters WWI.

The first Navy-built submarine is launched at the Kittery-Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

1918 World War I ends.
1919 The Eighteenth Amendment prohibits the manufacture and sale of alcohol throughout the nation.

Lafayette National Park (later renamed Acadia National Park) is established on Mount Desert Island.

1920 The Nineteenth Amendment passes, giving women the vote.

Maine's population reaches 768,000.

1922 The Irish Free State is established.

James Joyce's Ulysses is published.

1924 Membership in Maine's Ku Klux Klan reaches 50,000.
1928 Joseph Stalin comes to power in Russia.
1929 Black Friday: the U.S. stock market crashes, initiating the Great Depression.
1931 Former Governor Percival Baxter donates 5,760 acres of land, including Mt. Katahdin, to form a new state park named after him.
1933 Hitler is named Chancellor of Germany; he begins to persecute millions of Jews.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is sworn in as President.

National Prohibition is repealed.

1934 Maine State Prohibition is repealed.
1935 The Quoddy Tidal Project is launched under the New Deal.

The Wagner Act passes, giving workers the legal right to form labor unions without the interference of their employers.

1937 A shoe workers' strike in Lewiston-Auburn known as "The Battle of the Bridge" becomes violent.
1939 Gone with the Wind is released.

War breaks out in Europe.

1941 The Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.
1944 The raft from a German U-boat is found in Hancock Point.

German Prisoners of War held in a Houlton.

POW camp help Aroostook County farmers harvest potatoes.

1945 World War II ends
1947 Forest fires sweep Mount Desert Island and southwestern Maine.

The Maine Turnpike from Kittery to Portland opens to traffic.

1948 Margaret Chase Smith is elected as the first Maine woman to the U.S. Senate.

Palestine is partitioned into Jewish and Arab states; the state of Israel is created.

1949 The People's Republic of China is formed.
1950 Senator Margaret Chase Smith delivers her Declaration of Conscience.

The Korean War begins.

1952 The U.S. develops the H-bomb.
1954 Maine Indians are given the vote.

Edmund Muskie is elected Governor of Maine.

The U.S. Senate censures Senator Joseph McCarthy.

1955 The Maine Turnpike extends to Augusta.
1957 The Sinclair Act creates public School Administrative Districts (SADs).

Sputnik is launched.

Maine's Election Day moves from September to November.

1958 Edmund Muskie is elected to the U.S. Senate.
1959 Fidel Castro comes to power in Cuba.
1960 Twenty-four percent of Mainers are earning an income below the poverty line.
1962 Rachel Carson's Silent Spring is published.
1963 President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.
1964 The Civil Rights Act passes.
1965 The Maine state legislature passes the Fair Housing Bill, making racial discrimination in housing illegal.

The National Organization for Women is founded.

1968 Martin Luther King is assassinated.

Edmund Muskie runs for Vice President on Hubert Humphrey's ticket.

1969 U.S. troops in Vietnam reach a peak of 543,400.

Maine citizens pay a state income tax for the first time.

1970 Maine's population reaches 993,700.
1972 Margaret Chase Smith loses her first - and last - election.

Maine Yankee nuclear power plant opens.

A proposal to build the Dickey-Lincoln hydroelectric power project is abandoned.

The oil tanker Tomano spills into Casco Bay.

1974 Maine elects Jim Longley, Maine's first independent governor.

President Richard Nixon resigns.

1975 Maine's final river drive happens.

The U.S. pulls out of Vietnam.

1976 The Maine legislature passes the returnable bottle bill.
1977 Franco-Americans get official recognition as an ethnic group.

The U.S. government supports Maine Indians in their land claims case against the state of Maine.

1978 The Blizzard of '78 causes severe damage along the Maine coast.
1980 The Maine Indian Land Claims Case is settled out of court.
1983 Eleven-year old Samantha Smith, from Manchester, Maine, writes a peace-making letter to Soviet Leader Yuri Andropov. On his invitation, she visits the Soviet Union.

150 million Africans face near-famine.

1987 International Paper Company employees strike.

The Iran-Contra scandal emerges.

1988 George Mitchell, of Waterville, is elected U.S. Senate Majority Leader.
1989 The Berlin Wall falls; the Cold War ends.
1990 The Americans with Disabilities Act passes.
1991 The Maine State government shuts down during a budget crisis.

The U.S. fights Iraq in the Gulf War.

1992 The white policemen that beat black motorist Rodney King are acquitted of charges of police brutality.
1993 New York's World Trade Center is bombed by terrorists.
1997 Maine Yankee nuclear power plant closes.

William Cohen, of Bangor, is appointed Secretary of Defense under President William Clinton.

The Compact for Maine's Forests is rejected in a popular referendum.

1998 A severe January ice storm causes damage and power outages throughout the state.

To top of page | TIMELINE: through 1820


The 2003 and 2004 seasons of HOME: The Story of Maine on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network was made in partnership with the Maine State Museum. Major funding was provided by the  Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency committed to fostering innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning. Additional funding provided by Elsie Viles.
Major funding for previous seasons of  HOME: The Story of Maine was made possible by a grant from Rural Development, a part of the USDA. Special support is provided by The Maine State Museum and Northeast Historic Films.