MassMoments advises us today that on this day – March 15, 1820 – Massachusetts lost the over 30,000 square of the “province” of Maine. The relationship between Massachusetts and Maine was always rocky from the 1650s to the separation – with Maine feeling discontented by the political control, the great distance from the Massachusetts General Court, the taxes and the apparant lack of concern for Maine’s safety especially in the War of 1812. Ironically the abolition-leading Maine got caught up in the slavery issue being admitted as a “free state” to balance the admission of Missouri as a “slave state” though the controversial “Missouri Compromise.”
…in 1820, Massachusetts lost over 30,000 square miles of land as its former province of Maine gained statehood. Mainers had begun campaigning for statehood in the years following the Revolution. The Massachusetts legislature finally consented in 1819. What no one in either Massachusetts or Maine foresaw, however, was that Maine’s quest for statehood would become entangled in the most divisive issue in American history — slavery. Most Mainers supported abolition. They were dismayed that their admission to the Union was linked to the admission of Missouri as a slave state. This controversial “Missouri Compromise” preserved — for a few more decades — the delicate balance between pro- and anti-slavery forces in the U.S. Congress.