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History Timeline

11,500 years ago, the Paleo Indians settled in Maine.

1000 A.D. — Norse sailors, led by Leif Erikson, arrive in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Evidence suggests that they may have reached as far south as Maine.

1524 — Giovanni da Verranzano became the first confirmed European to explore the coast of Maine.

1604 — A French contingency led by Pierre du Guast Sieur de Monts establishes the first recorded European colony in Maine at the mouth of the St. Croix River.

1607 — The British establish the Fort Popham Colony which does not last the brutal winter.

1622 — Sir Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason are granted rights to lands which make up what is now Maine and New Hampshire. Gorges became the first person to title the territory "Maine".

1652 — Maine is annexed as a frontier territory by Massachusetts. The strategic importance of Maine is established as Massachusetts officials considered it the first line of defense against potential French and Indian invasions.

1675 — King Phillip's War begins what will be a long and arduous battle between the English and the French and Indians for control of the North American territories.

1675 - 1763 — This time period is marked by continuous conflict between the North American powers. What began with King Phillip's War ended with France surrendering their holdings in the new world to the English at the finish of the Seven Years War. During this time, Maine bore the brunt of several attacks by the French and Indian forces.

1775 — First naval battle of the Revolutionary War occurs off the coast of Machias.

1775 — Benedict Arnold marches a band of revolutionaries through Maine in a failed attempt to capture British strongholds in Quebec City and Montreal.

1794 — Bowdoin College becomes Maine's first post-secondary institution.

1820 — As a result of the Missouri Compromise, Maine becomes its own state.

1839 —  Governor Fairfield declares war on England over a boundary dispute between New Brunswick and northern Maine. This is the first and only time a state has declared war on a foreign power. The dispute was settled, however, before any blood was shed. 

1842 — The Webster - Ashburton Treaty of 1842 settled the Maine/New Brunswick border dispute as both sides compromised on a new boundary between the two territories.

1851 — Harriet Beecher Stowe begins writing Uncle Tom's Cabin in Brunswick, Maine. This novel would later serve as a source of inspiration for abolitionists prior to the Civil War.

1860 — Paris, Maine native, Hannibal Hamlin is named Abraham Lincoln's Vice President.

1863 — Brunswick native, Joshua Chamberlain successfully defended Little Round Top against confederate troops at the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War.  Chamberlain's actions arguably served as the turning point of that battle.

1866 — A great fire destroys much of downtown Portland in the area now known as the Old Port.

1888 — Melville W. Fuller, a native of Maine, becomes the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme court.

1931 — Governor Percival Baxter begins buying land in Northern Maine for the purpose of establishing a game reserve. Over the course of 30 years, Baxter would purchase over 90,000 acres. This land was generously donated toward the establishment of Baxter State Park.

1948 — Skowhegan native Margaret Chase Smith is elected to the U.S. Senate making her the first woman to ever be voted into this office and also the first women to serve in both houses of Congress.

1968 — The University of Maine system is established, creating public post - secondary institutions in various parts of the state.

1974 — James Longley is elected Governor of Maine. He becomes the first popularly elected independent governor in the history of the United States.

1980 — Rumford native, Senator Edmund Muskie replaces Cyrus Vance as President Carter's Secretary of State.

1980 — President Carter signs the Indian Land Claims agreement.

1984 — Freeport native, Joan Benoit Samuelson becomes the first gold medal winner in the inaugural women's Olympic marathon event at  the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, CA.

1988 — Waterville native, Senator George Mitchell is named the U.S. Senate Majority Leader.

1987 — March brought warm weather and heavy rains causing severe flooding in Maine and other Northeastern state.

1994 — Brunswick resident Angus King becomes only the second popularly elected independent governor in United States history.

1997 — Bangor native, Senator William Cohen is sworn in as President Clinton's Secretary of Defense.

1998 — Maine's worst natural disaster, The Ice Storm, began the first week in January.

2002 — John E. Baldacci was elected Governor of Maine and reelected in 2006.