For Immediate Release
March 15, 2005
Contact: Doug Dunbar
Secretary of State Dunlap Highlights Maine Statehood Day
Maine's 185th Anniversary of Statehood
Augusta, Maine – Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap called attention to Maine’s 185th anniversary of statehood on Tuesday, March 15th. He also highlighted 369 years of historical state records maintained by the Maine State Archives.
Maine entered the Union as a “free state” on March 15, 1820 through the Missouri Compromise. As part of that agreement, slavery was to be illegal in Maine and permitted in Missouri.
“Maine Statehood Day offers an opportunity to remember and celebrate our history and heritage. It also reminds us of the importance of preserving our links to the past. The Maine State Archives safeguards records dating back to 1636 and makes them available for research and educational enrichment,” Secretary Dunlap commented.
The Archives maintains the first act of the Maine Legislature, which is dated June 10, 1820. It is a law signed by Governor William King incorporating the Augusta Union Society – a literary organization dedicated to promoting morals and general knowledge. The legislation was passed by the Maine House of Representatives on June 9th and by the State Senate on June 10th in Portland. The State Capital was relocated to Augusta in 1832.
The oldest document at the Maine State Archives is a court record dated March 28, 1636, in which eleven pounds, seven shillings and six pence were awarded to one of the two parties involved in the court case.
“The Archives is a valuable resource for students, educators, historians and the general public. From tracing family genealogy to conducting Civil War research, the Archives contains a wealth of information. Statehood Day is the perfect time to focus attention on all the Archives has to offer,” Dunlap added.
To commemorate the occasion, Secretary Dunlap distributed Maine Statehood Day cards to the Governor, members of the Legislature and others at the Statehouse. The card contained the language from the 1636 court record, which is the oldest document at the Maine State Archives.
The Archives is located in the Cultural Building in Augusta, next to the Statehouse. Its research room is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays. Many of the Archive’s holdings can now be identified online by visiting www.maine.gov/sos/arc.