How did the people of Massachusetts react to the territory that is now Maine being split off from Massachusetts?

How did the people of Massachusetts react to the territory that is now Maine being split off from Massachusetts?

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Maine was admitted to the Union after being split off from Massachusetts during the time of the Missouri Compromise. Henry Clay had this idea because if Missouri were to be admitted to the Union as a slave state, the balance between slave and free states would be unequal. My question is, how did the people of Massachusetts react to Maine being created out of their territory? Or did they not really care? If not, how did the people who cared react? Did they do anything about it?

TL;DR: Maine's desire for self-governance arose independently of the Missouri Compromise, and was only tied to the statehood of Missouri due to the politics playing out in Congress at the time.

Maine residents had long felt distant and alienated from the government in Boston, and the farmers who settled in the interior of Maine after about 1800 were particularly inclined to such feelings. From Mass Moments:

[A]fter Shays' rebellion caused such havoc in western Massachusetts, Maine merchants worried that they would need the power of Massachusetts if they were ever faced with a similar uprising. They decided to express their grievances rather than push for statehood. But with the continued growth of the population outside established coastal towns, frustration spread to inland farmers. Unlike the coastal merchants, these folks had no common interest with the men who ruled Massachusetts and Maine. By 1800 these inland farmers were leading the drive for statehood. Their list of grievances was long, and their egalitarian, fiercely democratic politics made them eager to break with Massachusetts.

Maine held referendums on statehood in 1792, 1797, and 1807; however, in these instances, Mainers decided not to split from the rest of Massachusetts. The real breaking point was the War of 1812, which saw British forces occupy a large portion of eastern coastal Maine. From the Portland Press-Herald:

Regional solidarity collapsed in the summer and fall of 1814, as British forces surged down the coast, occupying Machias, Blue Hill, Castine and Belfast, looting Hampden and Bangor, and setting fire to a Biddeford shipyard. Residents of Wiscasset expected the village “would be laid in ashes” at any moment, while thousands of militiamen rallied to defend Portland from the expected assault.

With the federal government already bankrupted by the long war, Mainers and the White House alike looked to Massachusetts to take action to defend southern Maine and liberate the occupied zone. Instead, legislators in Boston chose to do nothing, while Gov. Caleb Strong carried on secret diplomacy with his British counterpart in Nova Scotia, hoping to secure assistance in the event the Bay State made good on threats to secede from the United States. When Maine's William King met with Strong to discuss an expedition to push the British out of Maine, the plan was promptly leaked to Boston newspapers and thus to the British.

In a referendum in July 1819, the people of Maine voted overwhelmingly (over 70% in favor) to secede from Massachusetts and form a new state. A constitutional convention was held in October, and the Massachusetts state legislature passed a bill granting statehood later that year. The Massachusettsians (?) generally disapproved of this notion, but agreed to abide by the will of the people:

It was universally recognized that the decision rested entirely with the people of Maine, and there was no attempt at or suggestion of bullying them. But they were appealed to strongly to remember the glories of the State which had been won by them in common with the citizens of Massachusetts proper.

However, to be admitted to the Union, Congress and the president had to pass a bill allowing Maine's statehood as well. This is where the Missouri compromise came into play; Missouri's statehood had been hotly debated throughout 1819, with abolitionists strongly opposing admission of a new slave state. When Maine's statehood bill came before Congress in 1820, the Senate decided to link the two measures. Since the balance of power between free and slave states would be largely unaffected by one free state and one slave state joining the Union, the opposition to Missouri's statehood lessened and the bill eventually passed.

I think Massachusetts cared less that Maine wanted to leave and become independent. It would be impossible for Massachusetts to try to govern land that is far from the capital of Boston. Also you have to remember that Canada had land disputes in Northern Maine. Massachusetts wouldn't want to deal with the stress of land disputes outside of Massachusetts and MA was busy dealing with their own problems.

I have done my research on this subject. I was making my inference on Massachusetts perspective of letting Maine obtain it's independence.

Native Americans in the Revolutionary War

Many Native American tribes fought in the Revolutionary War. The majority of these tribes fought for the British but a few fought for the Americans.

Many of these tribes tried to remain neutral in the early phase of the war but when some of them came under attack by American militia, they decided to join the British.

Other tribes joined the British in the hopes that if the British won, they would put a stop to colonial expansion in the west, as they had done with the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

The following is a list of the various tribes who fought in the Revolutionary War:

List of U.S. state partition proposals

Since the establishment of the United States in 1776, numerous state partition proposals have been put forward that would partition an existing state (or states) in order that a particular region within might either join another state, or create a new state. Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution, often called the New States Clause, grants to the United States Congress the authority to admit new states into the United States beyond the thirteen already in existence at the time the Constitution went into effect (June 21, 1788, after ratification by nine of the thirteen states). [1] It also includes a stipulation originally designed to give Eastern states that still had Western land claims (then including Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia) a veto over whether their western counties could become states. [2]

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress. [3]

The clause has served this same function since then whenever a proposal to partition an existing state or states has come before Congress. New breakaway states are permitted to join the Union, but only with the proper consents. [4] Of the 37 states admitted to the Union by Congress, three were set off from an already existing state:

    – 1792, was a part of Virginia[5]
  • Maine – 1820, was a part of Massachusetts[6]
  • West Virginia – 1863, was a part of Virginia [7]

Another state that may fit into this category is Vermont, which existed as a de facto but unrecognized sovereign state from 1777 until 1791. The region had been a subject of a territorial dispute between New York and New Hampshire during the colonial period, which royal authorities had resolved in favor of New York as the State of New York continued to claim Vermont's territory under this ruling after independence, the Continental Congress never recognized Vermont as an independent state. In 1790, after negotiating the common boundary between the two states, and after Vermont agreed to pay New York $30,000, New York relinquished its land-grant claim and consented to Vermont becoming part of the Union. Vasan Kesavan and Michael Stokes Paulsen assert that, "although Vermont was admitted into the Union with New York's consent, it is not at all clear that New York's consent was constitutionally necessary. While Vermont was within the territory claimed by New York, the preponderance of evidence suggests that Vermont was not within the jurisdiction of New York." [4]

Massachusetts After the War of 1812:

The war changed New England’s economy forever. Since the British navy had New England in a blockade, New Englanders were forced to turn inland to make money.

Cut off from the sea, they began to develop the first river-powered mills which spurred the industrial revolution in Massachusetts and in the country in general, and redefined New England life throughout the 19th century. Manufacturing soon became the staple of the state’s economy and it continued well into the 20th century.

If you want to learn more about the War of 1812, check out the following article about the best books about the War of 1812.

Maine History Online

After the long struggle with France and its Indian allies ended in 1763, British national debt stood at an all-time high, and its empire now included Canada, parts of the Caribbean, Florida, and a vast territory west of the Appalachians. Faced with these burdens, Britain launched a broad program of imperial reorganization, expecting the American colonies to contribute to the cost of maintaining their own defense.

Between 1765 and 1773 – a time of financial hardship in the colonies – Parliament imposed a series of trade regulations and taxes, and after protesting these new policies, Whig leaders in America adopted a course of action that led to the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

While Maine shared in these protests, its situation was somewhat unique.

First, Maine had an additional grievance stemming from the British trade in ships' masts. White pine from Maine was critical to the British navy, and during a long period of warfare with Spain, France, and the Netherlands beginning in the late 1600s, the British Admiralty progressively tightened regulations on cutting pine for lumber.

To stabilize the supply of masts, the Admiralty gave control over this lucrative trade to politically connected colonial merchants, and this, too, became a source of resentment.

Maine's second special feature was its long exposed coast, which presented almost impossible problems for defense, given Britain's superiority on the seas.

Finally, Maine's status as a "colony of a colony," subject to both Britain and Massachusetts, shaped its experience in the Revolution. Profiting from this dependent relation, Massachusetts merchants carved out frontier empires by renting land, building mills, and providing credit and provisions for the struggling settlers.

The timber, fish, and produce settlers sent to Boston in exchange were inadequate to discharge these expenses, and thus the proprietor-merchants controlled the economy of eastern Maine. By the 1770s, merchant houses in Falmouth, Wells, York, Scarborough, and Kittery maintained smaller fiefdoms in their own back country, and this system of unequal exchange polarized Maine society along geographical lines.

Frustrations with British imperial agents melded with frustrations aimed at these Boston and local merchants.

As grievances with the imperial administration mounted between 1763 and 1775, colonials expressed their opinions through crowd actions, often encouraged by town elites. Over the decade, a delicate relation developed between mob participants and Whig leaders, who well understood the volatile nature of these protests.

During the Stamp Act crisis of 1765-1766, a band of 30 men with blackened faces attacked the Scarborough home of Richard King, a wealthy merchant, shipbuilder, mill owner, land speculator, and moneylender. The mob gutted his elegant two-story home and destroyed his financial records. Patriot John Adams called the Scarborough rioters "rude and insolent Rabbles," even while he incited similar riots against imperial agents in Boston.

Boston's revolutionary Committee of Correspondence had gone so far as proposing a "Solemn League and Covenant" that pledged subscribers to boycott all British goods, in response to Britain closing Boston Harbor in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773.

Falmouth (Portland) greeted these nonimportation agreements with mixed enthusiasm as middlemen in the lucrative British trade, its merchants had much to lose by the boycott, and they understood that their wharves, warehouses, and ships would take the brunt of any discipline by the British navy. Moreover, they were increasingly uneasy about mob actions.

Led by Samuel Thompson of Brunswick, local militia from towns further inland responded to the boycott by harassing both British agents and hesitant local merchants. Issues of debt, rent, and unequal exchange mingled with protests against the intolerable acts as the inland settlers warned the "effete, luxury-loving port towns" that they would violate the nonimportation agreements at their own peril.

In April 1775, Thompson went to Falmouth to enforce the embargo on British trade because a British merchant vessel had arrived in March with supplies for a vessel being built in the harbor. A British naval vessel, Canceaux, sailed to Portland to protect the merchant vessel.

Thompson and 50 militiamen acted on their threats, capturing the Canceaux's commander, Capt. Henry Mowat, as the ship sought to unload goods, commencing "Thompson's War."

In June 1775 a second crisis took place in the eastern town of Machias, when residents captured the officers of the warship HMS Margaretta and then the ship itself in what came to be known as the first naval battle of the Revolution.

As acts of defiance like these escalated into war, American privateers, including those from Maine, launched raids on British ships and ports in British territory. On October 6 Vice-Admiral Samuel Graves, commander of the British North Atlantic fleet, ordered Capt. Henry Mowat, who had been captured in Falmouth, to chastise the colonies by burning towns along the New England coast.

Mowat chose to ignore the Massachusetts North Shore communities, which were located close together and capable of mutual defense, and returned to Falmouth, five months after "Thompson's War." On October 17, he sent a note to town leaders accusing Falmouth of "the most unpardonable Rebellion" and after due warning launched a daylong bombardment of the town, destroying two-thirds of the buildings.

Remarkably, local militia, mostly from the outlying towns, made no effort to defend the town, and in fact stayed to loot the remaining buildings.

Like the Boston Massacre, the burning of Falmouth rallied Americans to proclaim independence. The Continental Congress strengthened its small navy and encouraged privateers, and port towns strung booms across their harbors, built fortifications, and mustered militia.

Given sufficient warning, these troops were sometimes able to defend against superior British forces. Still, as others observed, Maine's long and lightly settled coast was virtually undefendable only its military insignificance stood between Maine and the powerful British navy.

The burning also highlighted the social tensions developing all through the colonies. In Maine these divisions were geographical as much as social, as interior settlers generally pushed for independence and seacoast merchants, aghast at the conduct of Thompson and his militia, fell in with the Loyalists. Tensions like these lingered after the war as Americans debated the government they fought to create.

The Revolution, as one historian famously said, was not just a question of home rule, but a question of who should rule at home. This query helped launch Maine's bid for separation from Massachusetts, once independence from Britain was won.

Offensives in Maine

Maine contributed many small, armed vessels as part of a privateering fleet that disrupted British supply lines, and it served as the staging area for three invasions of British territory. The first and most famous was Benedict Arnold's ill-fated siege of Quebec. With a thousand well-chosen volunteers, Arnold mustered at Augusta in fall 1775 and traveled by bateau up the Kennebec River, across the swampy western tablelands, and down the Chaudiere River to the St. Lawrence across from Quebec.

Having survived exhaustion and starvation, the army, reduced to 675 men, was swept by smallpox, a condition the troops passed on to reinforcements when they arrived from Montreal. Arnold's assault on the fortress on December 31 cost 100 American lives with another 400 captured, and in May, with the St. Lawrence clear of ice, British reinforcements arrived. The decimated American troops retreated to New York State.

Two expeditions of pro-American refugees from Nova Scotia were similarly unsuccessful.

The Penobscot Expedition

Maine was quiet through the middle years of the war, but in 1779 British vessels renewed their offensive against American privateers, and on June 9 the Admiralty at Halifax sent Brigadier General Francis McLean with troops to occupy Bagaduce – today's Castine – at the mouth of the Penobscot River.

The efforts to defend the area, known as the Penobscot Expedition and sometimes called the worst naval disaster until Pearl Harbor, showed the weakness of colonial coastal defenses as a privateer fleet was badly defeated. For the rest of the war eastern Maine was an occupied territory and a rallying point for Loyalist refugees, who conducted plunder expeditions against coastal towns.

As the war dragged on, a few eastern towns, sensing their abandonment by Massachusetts, circulated proclamations of neutrality. Their frustration was understandable: military drafts had became more demanding, and those left behind on the home front – women, children, and older men – tended farms and businesses as best they could. With taxes high and the British blockading the coast, Maine's situation was desperate.

When peace came in 1783, the Loyalists in Bagaduce moved eastward to Passamaquoddy Bay, but because the Peace of Paris only vaguely drew the border, the small community remained uncertain about which nation controlled its fate.

Peace and Beginning of Prosperity

In 1778 the Continental Congress divided Massachusetts into three maritime districts, including the District of Maine, and the original counties of York, Cumberland, and Lincoln carved off Hancock and Washington (1789), Kennebec (1799), Oxford (1805), Somerset (1809), and Penobscot (1816). Between 1784 and 1800 Maine's population swelled from 56,000 to over 151,000.

Falmouth – Portland after l786 – recovered quickly from the disaster of 1775 and grew to become Maine's major seaport. The mainstay of its economy was a thriving trade in wood products, livestock, fish, house frames, and produce with the West Indies in return for molasses, sugar, and rum. Portland also built small brigs, sloops, and schooners for the West Indies trade and shipped produce coming down from the interior highlands of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

Prosperity fostered a complex society, with merchants, doctors, lawyers, shopkeepers, and clergy at the apex artisans and small shop owners in the middle and sailors, laborers, servants, and slaves at the bottom. The classical motif in the new federal-style mansions back from the waterfront reflected the aristocratic aspirations of the rising merchant class, as well as their celebration of America's emerging democratic ideals.

Back-country society was much more leveled, although growing resentment toward land speculators, merchants, and money-lenders kept the frontier restive. The interior towns offered cheap land – a magnet for poor farm families from central New England – and the small vessels that plied the coastal waters carrying country goods to Boston provided cheap transport for the aspiring pioneers.

But isolation kept many farms at subsistence levels, since wood, grains, and orchard crops were too bulky to transport over rough roads, and the thin soils, unpredictable winters, predators, droughts, and pest infestations kept even the most modest goals in doubt.

Farmers spent summers in "watchful anxiety," aware that any of a number of misfortunes could mean near starvation over winter for family or livestock. Even in good times they lived on a monotonous diet of rye-and-corn bread, beans, fish, game, milk, rum, pudding, barley cake, pork, beef, and potatoes.

Inland towns were scattered broadly along a river or road, since arable land was unevenly distributed and mills were anchored to dispersed waterpower sites. Gradually, town activities were drawn to a central waterpower site, and as millwrights gained economic footing, they added to their enterprise some combination of general store, public house, warehouse, distillery, foundry, blacksmith shop, carding and fulling mill, spinning factory, or gristmill.

Given these vital functions, the nascent town centers became gathering-places for neighbors, who drank, debated, and socialized while they conducted business.

Commercial exchanges quickened, and these small nodes of activity attracted shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths, doctors, lawyers, and ministers. Through these town centers, farmers funneled a trade in staves, shingles, clapboards, and produce. Farmwomen spun yarn or wove cloth from wool, flax, or imported cotton, also in connection with centrally located merchants.

Taking advantage of this massive migration to the interior, proprietors holding the old colonial Pejepscot, Waldo, Clarke and Lake, and Plymouth patents reasserted their claims to these lands. Being desperately in debt after the Revolution, Massachusetts sold other lands to well-connected merchants to pay off its obligations.

The most conspicuous beneficiary of this policy was former Revolutionary War general Henry Knox, who between 1791 and 1794 gained control of 3.5 million acres in the Kennebec and Penobscot valleys, including some lands already settled. An obsessive speculator, Knox launched a dizzying array of business ventures from his palatial mansion in Thomaston, including farms, barrelworks, brickworks, sawmills, gristmills, lime kilns, and shipping and fishing facilities.

Proprietors like Knox assumed that the frontier was a place of chaos, where men escaped the discipline of hard work and lived by poaching timber, fish, furs, and game.

As on all frontiers, Maine farmers were coarse and independent-minded, and proprietors hoped to guide these restless inhabitants by limiting freehold farms to the deserving: those who could pay for them. To encourage this well maintained society, Kennebeck Proprietor Charles Vaughan supervised the construction of an academy, an agricultural society, a model farm, a Congregational church, a courthouse, and a jail, while James Bowdoin III bestowed 1,000 acres to endow Bowdoin College.

Newly arriving farmers saw the frontier in different terms. They frequently took up farms wherever the land appealed to them, convinced that they had fought the Revolution to secure just such rights. Their experiences were similar to those of people who moved to frontiers across the country.

Despite miserable prospects, the Maine frontier was their best hope of achieving liberty and security through land ownership. They survived by "changing works" – sharing labor or swapping produce with neighbors – and this neighborly support reinforced the republican notion that one man was as good as another.

These conflicting social visions – hierarchy versus democracy – exacerbated tensions over land titles, poll taxes, and a deflationary currency policy that favored money-lenders and proprietors over the indebted and land-hungry settlers on the frontier.

Religion further separated frontier people from coastal elites. Seacoast towns remained largely Congregational, guided by Harvard educated ministers trained in Puritan theocracy and transmitting a vision of society as a well ordered hierarchy predicated on deference to God and the social elite.

On the frontier in Maine and across the new country, revivals and religious awakenings, often spearheaded by young women or radical itinerant preachers, moved like wildfire, clearing the way for evangelical Methodist or Baptist ministers, particularly in areas cut off from the established church by poverty and isolation. Religious controversy helped forge a new democratic constituency that disposed the inland towns to separation in the years after the Revolution.

Maine Bids for Separation

Once the military confrontation with the Abenaki, French, and English had passed, Maine's subjugation to Massachusetts might have seemed unnecessary, since it shared no common border with the Commonwealth.

But for the next 40 years two obstacles stood in the path to independence. First, separationists were distracted by national events like Shays's Rebellion, the debate over the federal Constitution, and the politics of sectionalism and slavery. Second, separationists failed to agree on a common vision of Maine as a separate state.

As in the Revolution, the idea of independence spawned a debate over what the new government would look like. Seacoast elites aspired to conservative social, economic, and religious principles, while backwoods settlements, chafing under an onerous tax and monetary policy and frustrated by official bias toward land speculators, looked forward to a more radical form of democracy.

The question of separation first arose during the Revolution. When Massachusetts appeared unable or unwilling to protect the eastern frontier from British occupation, towns petitioned for aid, pointing out that all governments existed to secure life, liberty, and property, and if Massachusetts failed to achieve this, eastern Maine was within its rights to secede.

After the war, a new separationist movement developed in Portland among merchants, wealthy farmers, ministers, and speculators hoping to lead a new independent state. Thomas Wait, editor of the Falmouth Gazette, argued that Maine's distance from Massachusetts complicated its legal proceedings that Maine would receive greater representation in Washington as a separate state, and Maine's government would be smaller and therefore less expensive. A September 1786 convention outlined similar arguments for separation.

Given Portland's close commercial connection to Massachusetts, separationists mustered little support locally. Interior towns appeared ready to raise banner of separation, but for very different reasons. Tensions over land claims and debts were beginning to escalate into violence, as when the General Court sent militia eastward to enforce proprietors' claims or when settlers resorted to mob action.

Reluctant to join hands with delegates from these restive frontier towns, Portland's leaders were also taken aback by the reaction from Massachusetts. Although they had worded their petition in deferential tones, Governor James Bowdoin condemned it as a "design against the Commonwealth of very evil tendency," a rebuff that suggested separation might prove commercially damaging to the eastern ports. But instead of punitive action, the Commonwealth took steps to address the grievances outlined in the petition.

In 1789 Governor John Hancock and the General Court promised to expand the judicial system in Maine, establish a college in the District, and provide better roads. In addition, the Court offered to suspend taxes for 10 years for towns under certain conditions, to extend clear title to land for squatters who had established their claims prior to 1784, and to pressure private land companies to do the same. These moves dampened enthusiasm for separation throughout Maine.

In 1789 the new federal government enacted a Coasting Law that required trading vessels to enter and clear customs in every state they passed between their port of departure and their destination. Vessels were exempted, however, in states contiguous to the state where they were registered, which for Maine and Massachusetts included New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. This enormous advantage set the coastal towns against the separation.

Thus when the General Court authorized a test vote on separation in 1792, the outcome was disappointing to separationists: only 4,598 citizens bothered to vote, and of these, only a small majority favored separation. In light of this, secessionist conventions held in 1793 and 1794 drew only a handful of delegates.

Other developments, however, favored the growth of separation sentiment. Maine's population increased dramatically between 1790 and 1810, and this new prosperity suggested Maine might be ready for statehood. Interior towns grew particularly fast, strengthening Maine's Democratic Republican party.

Among those drawn to the rising political organization was William King, a politically ambitious merchant who left the Federalist camp after Jefferson's Democratic-Republican victory in 1800 and quickly became the District's preeminent political leader.

Federalists remained strong in Massachusetts, but Maine's growing population and its Democratic Republican majority threatened to overwhelm the Commonwealth. Realizing this, Federalists in Massachusetts warmed to the idea of separation, even while those in Maine backed further away from the statehood idea.

Maine in the War of 1812

Separation was again delayed when America entered a second war with Great Britain in 1812. The conflict was precipitated by British interference with American shipping, its impressment of American sailors – sometimes entire crews – into the navy, and by British support for Indian resistance in the Northwest Territories.

Britain and France were at war in Europe, and both nations hoped to stop American trade with the enemy, a harassment that disrupted America's profitable "neutral trade" with the Caribbean islands. After numerous protests, President Thomas Jefferson declared an embargo in December 1807, banning all U.S. trade with belligerent ports. When Britain continued to interfere with American shipping, the two nations drifted to war.

The declaration of war was a severe blow to New England, since its merchants had grown prosperous on commercial ties with Great Britain and its Canadian and Caribbean colonies. With seaports experiencing unemployment rates upward of 60 percent, Massachusetts Federalists protested the embargo, and when America entered the war, they continued trading with the British.

Governor Caleb Strong refused to allow Massachusetts militia to leave the state, despite federal pleas for support, and opposition to the war emboldened some to call for New England's secession from the United States.

Democratic Republicans remained in control in Maine, but opposition to the war was widespread. Belfast refused to prepare a militia, Castine declared itself against enlistment, and Eastport voted unanimously to preserve a "good understanding" with New Brunswick and carried on an extensive trade in smuggled goods.

On the other hand, Maine provided a fair share of America's maritime defense in form of privateers. One of the better known was the Dash, an armed schooner turned hermaphrodite brig built as a blockade runner in Freeport. After two voyages through the British blockade to Port-au-Prince, the Dash became a privateer, taking nine prizes before it was lost in a gale off the Gorges Bank with its 60-man crew in 1815.

The most famous incident of the war in Maine involved the HMS Boxer, under Samuel Blyth, and the American Enterprise, commanded by William Burrows. In September 1813, the Enterprise encountered the Boxer off the Kennebec River.

Although it appeared that the Boxer was harassing an American merchant vessel, in reality it had agreed to convoy the ship past American and British privateers from St. John, New Brunswick, to Bath, where it was to deliver woolen goods. The arrangement was part of a broader British policy of exempting New England merchants from the naval blockade, since their goods were critical to the British military campaigns on the continent.

In the ensuing battle, both captains were killed, and the Boxer's rigging was shot away. The captains were taken ashore and buried side-by-side with full military honors in the Portland cemetery. The incident demonstrated the confusion of loyalties in Maine and New England during the War of 1812.

The defeat of Napoleon in March 1814 changed Britain's military fortunes, and the nation turned its attention to America, including New England. In April 1814 British forces attacked Eastport, garrisoned by 80 militia, with a force of 3,500 regulars, and in August they occupied Castine and Belfast and sailed upriver for Bangor with an invasion force of 10 ships and 3,000 troops.

On September 3, militia from the Penobscot River towns gathered at Hampden and reached a reluctant decision to defend Bangor, despite being outnumbered and improperly armed. After waiting through a cold, foggy night, the Americans encountered the advancing British regulars, fired a few volleys, and broke ranks.

British troops plundered Bangor's stores and post office, burned its shipping, and bonded town officials to deliver the remaining vessels to the British fort at Castine. Once again, eastern Maine was an occupied territory.

The Battle of Hampden was a shock to those who assumed – since New England bankers had lent the British funds to pursue the war – that the region would be spared. Governor Strong called a special session of the General Court, but Federalist legislators refused to liberate Maine, leaving this undertaking to the federal government.

Preoccupied with military events elsewhere, Secretary of War James Monroe sent Major-General Henry Dearborn to Boston to negotiate a loan and to request troops. While the nation looked on with astonishment, the governor and the banks of Boston refused to aid the nation in defense of the Commonwealth's own territory.

While Monroe and Strong argued about the troops, British peace proposals appeared in the New England newspapers, among them a plan calling for the annexation of eastern Maine to Canada. Some Massachusetts Federalists seemed ready to agree to these terms. The Federalists' willingness to sacrifice Maine became a major rallying cry as separationists reorganized at the end of the war.

Separation and Statehood

Separationists continued to argue that statehood would bring more equitable taxation and lower government expenses, but the seacoast-inland split continued. Massachusetts agreed to grant separation if a majority of voters chose it. There were two unsuccessful votes in 1816 and the General Court refused to discuss separation for three more years.

William King, statehood's greatest voice, worked to revise the coasting law, hoping to gain support for statehood from coastal mariners and merchants. Finally, on July 26, 1819, voters overwhelmingly supported separation. Delegates wrote a Constitution, far more democratic and egalitarian than any other in New England, which was overwhelmingly approved.

Under ordinary conditions, Maine would have been admitted to the Union immediately, but statehood was complicated by the national debate over extending slavery into the western territories as they became states. By 1818 the Senate was evenly divided between slave-holding and free states, and the admission of Maine, obviously as a free state, would upset this critical balance.

Missouri had petitioned for statehood in 1818, and could have entered as Maine's pro-slave "twin," but northern congressmen, even those from Maine, were unwilling to admit more states with slavery imbedded in their constitutions, and Missouri lay north of the line accepted as the division between free and slave soil.

Congressman James Tallmadge of New York offered an amendment to the Missouri statehood bill requiring the state to halt further introduction of slaves and to emancipate those in the state at age 25, but the Senate struck the amendment as unconstitutional.

Southern senators held Maine's petition for statehood hostage to the question of slavery in Missouri. John W. Taylor, also from New York, offered a motion to fix by law a line between free and slave territory at parallel 36 degrees, 30 minutes – the southern boundary of Missouri – and pro-southern Senator Jesse B. Thomas of Illinois added that slavery would be banned in territories lying north of this line, except for Missouri. To this he added a provision for the re-enslavement of fugitives fleeing into territory where slavery was banned.

Maine's Congressional delegation was in a moral bind, since statehood would require a vote to allow slavery in Missouri. All seven Maine representatives declined the compromise, and the House passed its own bill restricting slavery. Still, a conference committee of House and Senate supporters crafted an amended version – the so-called Missouri Compromise – and this won approval in Congress. Maine became the nation's 23rd state on March 15, 1820.

Despite the elation in Maine, the Missouri Compromise was a bitter victory. Rufus King mused that if Missouri were admitted as a slave state, the balance between North and South would tip and all future presidents would hail from the South.

Others pointed out that if slavery were allowed in Missouri, it would spread the same number of slaves over a wider area, increasing their value and ameliorating their harsh treatment. The speciousness of this argument demonstrated the agonizing dilemma Maine separation leaders faced, and this indignity fueled the anti-slavery movement, which became a central issue in Maine politics between 1820 and 1861.


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Cherokee, North American Indians of Iroquoian lineage who constituted one of the largest politically integrated tribes at the time of European colonization of the Americas. Their name is derived from a Creek word meaning “people of different speech” many prefer to be known as Keetoowah or Tsalagi. They are believed to have numbered some 22,500 individuals in 1650, and they controlled approximately 40,000 square miles (100,000 square km) of the Appalachian Mountains in parts of present-day Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and the western parts of what are now North Carolina and South Carolina.

Who are the Cherokee people?

The Cherokee are North American Indians of Iroquoian lineage who constituted one of the largest politically integrated tribes at the time of European colonization of the Americas. Their name is derived from a Creek word meaning “people of different speech” many prefer to be known as Keetoowah or Tsalagi.

What were Cherokee houses like?

Cherokee dwellings were bark-roofed windowless log cabins, with one door and a smoke hole in the roof. A typical Cherokee settlement had between 30 and 60 such houses and a council house, where general meetings were held and a sacred fire burned.

How did the Cherokee people live before European colonization?

The Cherokee nation was composed of a confederacy. Cherokees wove baskets, made pottery, and cultivated corn (maize), beans, and squash. Deer, bear, and elk furnished meat and clothing. An important religious observance was the Busk, or Green Corn, festival, a firstfruits and new-fires celebration.

Where did some Cherokee hide during their forcible removal in 1838?

At the time of their forcible removal from their homes in 1838, a few hundred Cherokee escaped to the mountains and furnished the nucleus for the several thousand Cherokee who live in western North Carolina.

Traditional Cherokee life and culture greatly resembled that of the Creek and other tribes of the Southeast. The Cherokee nation was composed of a confederacy of symbolically red (war) and white (peace) towns. The chiefs of individual red towns were subordinated to a supreme war chief, while the officials of individual white towns were under the supreme peace chief. The peace towns provided sanctuary for wrongdoers war ceremonies were conducted in red towns.

When encountered by Spanish explorers in the mid-16th century, the Cherokee possessed a variety of stone implements, including knives, axes, and chisels. They wove baskets, made pottery, and cultivated corn (maize), beans, and squash. Deer, bear, and elk furnished meat and clothing. Cherokee dwellings were bark-roofed windowless log cabins, with one door and a smoke hole in the roof. A typical Cherokee town had between 30 and 60 such houses and a council house, where general meetings were held and a sacred fire burned. An important religious observance was the Busk, or Green Corn, festival, a firstfruits and new-fires celebration.

The Spanish, French, and English all attempted to colonize parts of the Southeast, including Cherokee territory. By the early 18th century the tribe had chosen alliance with the British in both trading and military affairs. During the French and Indian War (1754–63) they allied themselves with the British the French had allied themselves with several Iroquoian tribes, which were the Cherokee’s traditional enemies. By 1759 the British had begun to engage in a scorched-earth policy that led to the indiscriminate destruction of native towns, including those of the Cherokee and other British-allied tribes. Tribal economies were seriously disrupted by British actions. In 1773 the Cherokee and the Creek had to exchange a portion of their land to relieve the resulting indebtedness, ceding more than two million acres (more than 809,000 hectares) in Georgia through the Treaty of Augusta.

In 1775 the Overhill Cherokee were persuaded at the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals to sell an enormous tract of land in central Kentucky to the privately owned Transylvania Land Company. Although land sales to private companies violated British law, the treaty nevertheless became the basis for the colonial settlement of that area. As the American War of Independence loomed, the Transylvania Land Company declared its support of the revolutionaries. The Cherokee became convinced that the British were more likely to enforce boundary laws than a new government and announced their determination to support the crown. Despite British attempts to restrain them, a force of 700 Cherokee under Chief Dragging Canoe attacked the colonist-held forts of Eaton’s Station and Fort Watauga (in what is now North Carolina) in July 1776. Both assaults failed, and the tribe retreated in disgrace. Those raids were the first in a series of attacks by Cherokee, Creek, and Choctaw on frontier towns, eliciting a vigorous response by militia and regulars of the Southern colonies during September and October. At the end of that time, Cherokee power was broken, their crops and villages destroyed, and their warriors dispersed. The defeated tribes sued for peace. In order to obtain it, they were forced to surrender vast tracts of territory in North and South Carolina at the Treaty of DeWitt’s Corner (May 20, 1777) and the Treaty of Long Island of Holston (July 20, 1777).

Peace reigned for the next two years. When Cherokee raids flared up in 1780 during the American preoccupation with British armed forces elsewhere, punitive action led by Colonel Arthur Campbell and Colonel John Sevier subdued the tribe again. The second Treaty of Long Island of Holston (July 26, 1781) confirmed previous land cessions and caused the Cherokee to yield additional territory.

After 1800 the Cherokee were remarkable for their assimilation of American settler culture. The tribe formed a government modeled on that of the United States. Under Chief Junaluska they aided Andrew Jackson against the Creek in the Creek War, particularly in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. They adopted colonial methods of farming, weaving, and home building. Perhaps most remarkable of all was the syllabary of the Cherokee language, developed in 1821 by Sequoyah, a Cherokee who had served with the U.S. Army in the Creek War. The syllabary—a system of writing in which each symbol represents a syllable—was so successful that almost the entire tribe became literate within a short time. A written constitution was adopted, and religious literature flourished, including translations from the Christian Scriptures. Native Americans’ first newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, began publication in February 1828.

The Cherokee’s rapid acquisition of settler culture did not protect them against the land hunger of those they emulated. When gold was discovered on Cherokee land in Georgia, agitation for the removal of the tribe increased. In December 1835 the Treaty of New Echota, signed by a small minority of the Cherokee, ceded to the United States all Cherokee land east of the Mississippi River for $5 million. The overwhelming majority of tribal members repudiated the treaty and took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court rendered a decision favourable to the tribe, declaring that Georgia had no jurisdiction over the Cherokee and no claim to their land.

Georgia officials ignored the court’s decision, President Andrew Jackson refused to enforce it, and Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 to facilitate the eviction of tribal members from their homes and territory. Removal was implemented by 7,000 troops commanded by General Winfield Scott. Scott’s men moved through Cherokee territory, forcing many people from their homes at gunpoint. As many as 16,000 Cherokee were thus gathered into camps while their homes were plundered and burned by local Euro-American residents. Subsequently those refugees were sent west in 13 overland detachments of about 1,000 per group, the majority on foot. Additional groups of varying sizes were led by Captain John Benge, part-Cherokee John Bell, and Principal Chief John Ross,

The eviction and forced march, which came to be known as the Trail of Tears, took place during the fall and winter of 1838–39. Although Congress had allocated funds for the operation, it was badly mismanaged, and inadequate food supplies, shelter, and clothing led to terrible suffering, especially after frigid weather arrived. The trail cost the Indians nearly everything they had to pay farmers for passing through lands, ferrying across rivers, even burying their dead. About 4,000 Cherokee died on the 116-day journey, many because the escorting troops refused to slow or stop so that the ill and exhausted could recover.

When the main body had finally reached its new home in what is now northeastern Oklahoma, new controversies began with the settlers already there, especially other Native Americans—notably the Osage and the Cherokee group that had immigrated there after the Treaty of 1817. (As a result of the struggle for territory, relations between the Osage and the Cherokee had long been fractious.) In many respects, settlement in Indian Territory was even more difficult than negotiating the trail and took more time. Feuds and murders rent the tribe as reprisals were made on those who had signed the Treaty of New Echota.

In Oklahoma the Cherokee joined four other tribes—the Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole (see also Black Seminole)—all of which had been forcibly removed from the Southeast by the U.S. government in the 1830s. For three-quarters of a century, each tribe had a land allotment and a quasi-autonomous government modeled on that of the United States. In preparation for Oklahoma statehood (1907), some of that land was allotted to individual tribal members the rest was opened up to homesteaders, held in trust by the federal government, or allotted to freed slaves. Tribal governments were effectively dissolved in 1906 but have continued to exist in a limited form.

At the time of removal in 1838, a few hundred individuals escaped to the mountains and furnished the nucleus for the several thousand Cherokee who were living in western North Carolina in the 21st century. Early 21st-century population estimates indicated more than 730,000 individuals of Cherokee descent living across the United States.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.

How did the people of Massachusetts react to the territory that is now Maine being split off from Massachusetts? - History

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Timeline - The 1830s

Impossible to conquer, yet with the intrepid spirit of the mountain men, miners, and pioneers, they would begin an earnest try as the nation moved, in its first real phase, from east to west.

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Photo above: Independence Rock on the Oregon Trail. First mentioned by Parker in 1835, and carries an inscription on the rock with the names of early trappers and explorers. Photo William H. Jackson, circa 1870. Right: Painting by Percy Moran, 1912, reflects the intensity of the battle of the Alamo. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

U.S. Timeline - The 1830s

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1830 - Detail

May 26, 1830 - The United States Congress approved the Indian Removal Act, which facilitated the relocation of Indian tribes from east of the Mississippi River. Although this act did not order their removal, it paved the way for increased pressure on Indian tribes to accept land-exchange treaties with the U.S. government and helped lead the way to the Trail of Tears.

It was, at best, a measure of indignity, of pique, that the United States Congress, and the President, would consider a policy that would lead to the Trail of Tears. And while this particular act, the Indian Removal Act of 1830, did not codify the individual treaties between the various nations of the southeast and the United States, over the next decade, those treaties would be made, and the removal of the majority of those tribes, including the Five Civilized Nations Tribes of the Creek, Cherokee, Seminole, Chikasaw, and Choctaw, would occur.

The wars of the past in the southeast and the migration of European immigrants to follow had caused a problem. With President Andrew Jackson in the White House, the man who had battled in more than a couple of these conflicts the Red Stick War, the First Seminole War, etc., and a Congress that was looking for a way to solve it, it was easy to see an outcome that would not benefit the Indian tribes of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and the southern part of North Carolina.

By 1929, President Jackson admitted in his State of the Union address, that removal would be his policy. He did think that it should voluntary.

1829 Andrew Jackson State of the Union, Portion Regarding Indian Removal

The condition and ulterior destiny of the Indian tribes within the limits of some of our States have become objects of much interest and importance. It has long been the policy of Government to introduce among them the arts of civilization, in the hope of gradually reclaiming them from a wandering life. This policy has, however, been coupled with another wholly incompatible with its success. Professing a desire to civilize and settle them, we have at the same time lost no opportunity to purchase their lands and thrust them farther into the wilderness. By this means they have not only been kept in a wandering state, but been led to look upon us as unjust and indifferent to their fate. Thus, though lavish in its expenditures upon the subject, Government has constantly defeated its own policy, and the Indians in general, receding farther and farther to the west, have retained their savage habits. A portion, however, of the Southern tribes, having mingled much with the whites and made some progress in the arts of civilized life, have lately attempted to erect an independent government within the limits of Georgia and Alabama. These States, claiming to be the only sovereigns within their territories, extended their laws over the Indians, which induced the latter to call upon the United States for protection.

Under these circumstances the question presented was whether the General Government had a right to sustain those people in their pretensions. The Constitution declares that "no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State" without the consent of its legislature. If the General Government is not permitted to tolerate the erection of a confederate State within the territory of one of the members of this Union against her consent, much less could it allow a foreign and independent government to establish itself there.

Georgia became a member of the Confederacy which eventuated in our Federal Union as a sovereign State, always asserting her claim to certain limits, which, having been originally defined in her colonial charter and subsequently recognized in the treaty of peace, she has ever since continued to enjoy, except as they have been circumscribed by her own voluntary transfer of a portion of her territory to the United States in the articles of cession of 1802. Alabama was admitted into the Union on the same footing with the original States, with boundaries which were prescribed by Congress.

There is no constitutional, conventional, or legal provision which allows them less power over the Indians within their borders than is possessed by Maine or New York. Would the people of Maine permit the Penobscot tribe to erect an independent government within their State? And unless they did would it not be the duty of the General Government to support them in resisting such a measure? Would the people of New York permit each remnant of the six Nations within her borders to declare itself an independent people under the protection of the United States? Could the Indians establish a separate republic on each of their reservations in Ohio? And if they were so disposed would it be the duty of this Government to protect them in the attempt? If the principle involved in the obvious answer to these questions be abandoned, it will follow that the objects of this Government are reversed, and that it has become a part of its duty to aid in destroying the States which it was established to protect.

Actuated by this view of the subject, I informed the Indians inhabiting parts of Georgia and Alabama that their attempt to establish an independent government would not be countenanced by the Executive of the United States, and advised them to emigrate beyond the Mississippi or submit to the laws of those States.

Our conduct toward these people is deeply interesting to our national character. Their present condition, contrasted with what they once were, makes a most powerful appeal to our sympathies. Our ancestors found them the uncontrolled possessors of these vast regions. By persuasion and force they have been made to retire from river to river and from mountain to mountain, until some of the tribes have become extinct and others have left but remnants to preserve for a while their once terrible names. Surrounded by the whites with their arts of civilization, which by destroying the resources of the savage doom him to weakness and decay, the fate of the Mohegan, the Narragansett, and the Delaware is fast over-taking the Choctaw, the Cherokee, and the Creek. That this fate surely awaits them if they remain within the limits of the States does not admit of a doubt. Humanity and national honor demand that every effort should be made to avert so great a calamity. It is too late to inquire whether it was just in the United States to include them and their territory within the bounds of new States, whose limits they could control. That step can not be retraced. A State can not be dismembered by Congress or restricted in the exercise of her constitutional power. But the people of those States and of every State, actuated by feelings of justice and a regard for our national honor, submit to you the interesting question whether something can not be done, consistently with the rights of the States, to preserve this much- injured race.

As a means of effecting this end I suggest for your consideration the propriety of setting apart an ample district west of the Mississippi, and without the limits of any State or Territory now formed, to be guaranteed to the Indian tribes as long as they shall occupy it, each tribe having a distinct control over the portion designated for its use. There they may be secured in the enjoyment of governments of their own choice, subject to no other control from the United States than such as may be necessary to preserve peace on the frontier and between the several tribes. There the benevolent may endeavor to teach them the arts of civilization, and, by promoting union and harmony among them, to raise up an interesting commonwealth, destined to perpetuate the race and to attest the humanity and justice of this Government.

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After The Speech

While the speech had been precipitated by the conflicts prior, plus a seemingly paternalistic care by the President, whether actual or not, as well as an 1802 promise to Georgia that the tribes would be removed, but had not yet been enacted, Jackson's speech became another push toward forcing Congress to act. Jackson fundamentally disagreed with George Washington's contention that the Indian Tribes were foreign nations he thought they should be assimilated under the laws of the state where they resided, but if not, self-rule could only be accommodated on the federal lands of the west.

Significant opposition arose. Northern citizens were against Southern citizens for. Davy Crockett, a Tennessee Congressman disagreed, as did Christian Missionaries. Despite the protestations, the Senate passed the measure on April 24, 1830, by a vote of 28 to 19. Who voted against the Indian Removal Act? Both Senators from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont. States who split their vote against: Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. One Senator from Maryland did not vote.

On May 26, 1830, the House of Representatives voted 101 to 97 for its passage, with eleven congressmen not voting. Two days later, President Jackson signed it into law. Within four months, treaties were being signed with the individual tribal nations of the Five Civilized Tribes and smaller bands. Not all tribes would leave peacefully, as the Second Seminole War between 1835 and 1842 attested.

Indian Removal Act, Text

An Act to Provide for the Exchange of Lands with the Indians residing in any of the states or territories, and for their removal west of the river Mississippi.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That it shall and may be lawful for the President of the United States to cause so much of any territory belonging to the United States, west of the river Mississippi, not included in any state or organized territory, and to which the Indian title has been extinguished, as he may judge necessary, to be divided into a suitable number of districts, for the reception of such tribes or nations of Indians as may choose to exchange the lands where they now reside, and remove there and to cause each of said districts to be so described by natural or artificial marks, as to be easily distinguished from every other.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the President to exchange any or all of such districts, so to be laid off and described, with any tribe or nation of Indians now residing within the limits of any of the states or territories, and with which the United States have existing treaties, for the whole or any part or portion of the territory claimed and occupied by such tribe or nation, within the bounds of any one or more of the states or territories, where the land claimed and occupied by the Indians, is owned by the United States, or the United States are bound to the state within which it lies to extinguish the Indian claim thereto.

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That in the making of any such exchange or exchanges, it shall and may be lawful for the President solemnly to assure the tribe or nation with which the exchange is made, that the United States will forever secure and guaranty to them, and their heirs or sucessors, the country so exchanged with them and if they prefer it, that the United States will cause a patent or grant to be made and executed to them for the same: Provided always, That such lands shall revert to the United States, if the Indians become extinct, or abandon the same.

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That if, upon any of the lands now occupied by the Indians, and to be exchanged for, there should be such improvements as add value to the land claimed by any individual or individuals of such tribes or nations, it shall and may be lawful for the President to cause such value to be ascertained by appraisement or otherwise, and to cause such ascertained value to be paid to the person or persons rightfully claiming such improvements. And upon the payment of such valuation, the improvements so valued and paid for, shall pass to the United States, and possession shall not afterwards be permitted to any of the same tribe.

Sec. 5. And be if further enacted, That upon the making of any such exchange as is contemplated by this act, it shall and may be lawful for the President to cause such aid and assistance to be furnished to the emigrants as may be necessary and proper to enable them to remove to, and settle in, the country for which they may have exchanged and also, to give them such aid and assistance as may be necessary for their support and subsistence for the first year after their removal.

Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the President to cause such tribe or nation to be protected, at their new residence, against all interruption or distrubance from any other tribe or nation of Indians, or from any person or persons whatever.

Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That is shall and may be lawful for the President to have the same superintendence and care over any tribe or nation in the country to which they may remove, as contemplated by this act, that he is now authorized to have over them at their present places of residence: Provided, That nothing in this act contained shall be construed as authorizing or directing the violation of any existing treaty between the United States and any of the Indian tribes.

Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, That for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of this act, the sum of five hundred thousand dollars is hereby appropriated, to be paid out of any money in the treasury, not otherwise appropriated.

Image above: Lithograph of political cartoon titled "Our Indian Policy - A House of Cards," 1881, Joseph Ferdinand Keppler. Courtesy Library of Congress. Below: Portion of Map showing Indian Removal and Trail of Tears, 2007, Nikater/Demis/Handbook of North American Indians. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Info Source: Acts of the 21st Congress, Section 1, Chapter 48, 1830 Wikipedia Commons Library of Congress

History Photo Bomb

The painting of the Alamo by Percy Moran, 1912, reflects the intensity of the battle in San Antonio. Courtesy Library of Congress.

The 13 Original Colonies

Below are the original thirteen colonies, separated into three groups based on location: New England Colonies, Middle Colonies, and Southern Colonies. For each colony, we include its official name, the year it first became a colony of England, and the year it became a crown colony (which meant it was officially controlled by the British government, unlike regular colonies which sometimes had more ability to self-rule). There’s also additional information on how each colony was founded and the role it played during the Revolutionary War.

The states that were part of the 13 original colonies are colored red on this 13 colonies map. Source: Wikimedia commons

New England Colonies

First established at Plymouth, Massachusetts by the Pilgrims, the New England Colonies were some of the earliest colonies, and they were primarily populated by British Puritans.


  • Official name: Providence of Massachusetts Bay
  • Date colony was established: 1620
  • Date it became a crown colony: 1692

Plymouth Colony, the first establishment along the shores of Massachusetts Bay, was founded in 1620, and the number of settlers in the area continued to grow steadily after its founding. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded in 1628 and developed a large merchant fleet. Both of these colonies became part of the Providence of Massachusetts Bay when it became a crown colony in 1692. In the lead up to the Revolutionary War, as well as during it, Massachusetts was a key colony, and many major events occurred there, including the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and the battles of Bunker Hill, Concord, and Lexington.

Rhode Island

  • Official name: Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
  • Date colony was established: 1636
  • Date it became a crown colony: 1663

Colonists expelled from Massachusetts Bay due to their religious beliefs were the first people to settle Rhode Island. They founded Providence as a site of religious freedom. In 1774, Stephen Hopkins, a Rhode Island politician, introduced a bill that prohibited the importation of slaves into the colony. It became the first anti-slavery law in the colonies.


  • Official name: Connecticut Colony
  • Date colony was established: 1636
  • Date it became a crown colony: 1662

Previously settled by the Dutch, Connecticut became a colony for British and colonial Puritans. The Connecticut Colony was an early defier of England’s control and mobilized over 40,000 soldiers for the Revolutionary War.

New Hampshire

  • Official name: Province of New Hampshire
  • Date colony was established: 1638
  • Date it became a crown colony: 1679

Named after the English county Hampshire, New Hampshire was settled as early as 1623. In 1638, colonist John Wheelwright was banished from Massachusetts colony and founded Exeter in what would later become New Hampshire. From 1641 to 1679, the Providence of New Hampshire was ruled by its fellow colony of Massachusetts.

Middle Colonies

The British got much of this area, now called the Mid-Atlantic, by capturing it from the Dutch. The fertile soil of these colonies allowed them to grow crops, particularly grains. Strong timber, iron, and shipbuilding industries helped make these colonies major trade centers. They were also the most diverse, both ethnically and religiously, of all the British colonies.

  • Official name: Province of New York
  • Date colony was established: 1664
  • Date it became a crown colony: 1686

Formerly the Dutch province of New Netherland, New York was awarded to England during the Second Dutch-Anglo War and was renamed for the Duke of York. It was a major battleground during the Revolutionary War, and the final evacuation of the British Army from New York and return of General George Washington’s army in 1783 was the cause of a massive parade and celebration.

  • Official name: Province of New Jersey
  • Date colony was established: 1664
  • Date it became a crown colony: 1702

Another part of New Netherland that was surrendered to the British in 1664, the Providence of New Jersey was split in two (East Jersey and West Jersey) before becoming a single royal colony in 1702. During the Revolutionary War, General Washington and his army spent much of their time in New Jersey, and it was Trenton, NJ they attacked after the famous crossing of the Delaware River.


  • Official name: Province of Pennsylvania
  • Date colony was established: 1681
  • Date it became a crown colony: 1707

Founded by British Quaker William Penn, Pennsylvania became a major economic and political center of the colonies. Famous colonial Pennsylvanians include Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine, and it was in Philadelphia that both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were signed.

  • Official name: Delaware Colony
  • Date colony was established: 1664
  • Date it became a crown colony: 1707

Before 1776, this colony was known as the Lower Counties on the Delaware, and it was governed by the Province of Pennsylvania from 1682 until 1701. On December 7th, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the US Constitution.

Southern Colonies

Located in what is now considered the Southern United States, the Southern Colonies had economies based heavily on the cash crops of cotton, rice, and tobacco. They also had significantly higher numbers of slaves than most of the other colonies.

  • Official name: Province of Maryland
  • Date colony was established: 1632
  • Date it became a crown colony: 1707

The colony’s first ruler was the English Lord Baltimore, who established it as a haven for English Catholics. During the lead up to the Revolutionary War, Maryland staged a tea party similar to the more famous one which took place in Boston.

  • Official name: Colony and Dominion of Virginia
  • Date colony was established: 1607
  • Date it became a crown colony: 1624

Jamestown, settled in 1607, was the first lasting British colony in North America after it became a crown colony, expansion continued rapidly. Many of the most famous leaders of the Revolutionary War, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, came from Virginia, and it had one of the largest populations of the colonies. The final battle of the war was fought at Yorktown, Virginia, where the British surrendered in 1781.

North Carolina

  • Official name: Province of North Carolina
  • Date colony was established: 1663
  • Date it became a crown colony: 1729

North Carolina was the site of the failed Roanoke Colony, the first attempt at a permanent English settlement in North America. It was originally called the Province of Carolina, until it was split into the Provinces of North Carolina and South Carolina in 1712. The colony was a major site of tobacco cultivation.

South Carolina

  • Official name: Province of South Carolina
  • Date colony was established: 1663
  • Date it became a crown colony: 1729

After being split from the Province of Carolina in 1712, South Carolina became one of the wealthiest colonies in North America, due in part to its large cotton plantations and rice cultivation, so South Carolinian colonists were especially offended by the taxes Great Britain imposed on them. A significant amount of fighting during the Revolutionary War occurred within South Carolina, totaling over 130 battles.

  • Official name: Province of Georgia
  • Date colony was established: 1732
  • Date it became a crown colony: 1752

After gaining control of the area from the Spanish in the 1720s, the English established Georgia as a new colony in 1732. It was the last of the 13 original colonies to be established. Its first leader was British General James Oglethorpe, who hoped to create a haven for English people who had been imprisoned for debt. The cities of Savannah and Augusta especially saw heavy fighting during the Revolutionary War.

Jamestown and Plymouth: Compare and Contrast

Traveling aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery, 104 men landed in Virginia in 1607 at a place they named Jamestown. This was the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

Thirteen years later, 102 settlers aboard the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts at a place they named Plymouth. With these two colonies, English settlement in North America was born.


Jamestown offered anchorage and a good defensive position. Warm climate and fertile soil allowed large plantations to prosper.

Plymouth provided good anchorage and an excellent harbor. Cold climate and thin, rocky soil limited farm size. New Englanders turned to lumbering, shipbuilding, fishing and trade.

Economic motives prompted colonization in Virginia. The Virginia Company of London, organized in 1606, sponsored the Virginia Colony. Organizers of the company wanted to expand English trade and obtain a wider market for English manufactured goods. They naturally hoped for financial profit from their investment in shares of company stock.

Freedom from religious persecution motivated the Pilgrims to leave England and settle in Holland, where there was more religious freedom. However, after a number of years the Pilgrims felt that their children were being corrupted by the liberal Dutch lifestyle and were losing their English heritage. News of the English Colony in Virginia motivated them to leave Holland and settle in the New World.

Inexperience, unwillingness to work, and the lack of wilderness survival skills led to bickering, disagreements, and inaction at Jamestown. Poor Indian relations, disease, and the initial absence of the family unit compounded the problems.

Cooperation and hard work were part of the Pilgrim's lifestyle. Nevertheless, they too were plagued with hunger, disease, and environmental hazards.

The settlers at Jamestown were members of the Anglican faith, the official Church of England.

The Pilgrims were dissenters from the Church of England and established the Puritan or Congregational Church.

In 1619, the first representative legislative assembly in the New World met at the Jamestown church. It was here that our American heritage of representative government was born. Since New England was outside the jurisdiction of Virginia's government, the Pilgrims established a self-governing agreement of their own, the "Mayflower Compact."

The Virginia colonists settled in the territory of a strong Indian empire or chiefdom. English relations with the Powhatan Indians were unstable from the beginning. Vast differences in culture, philosophies, and the English desire for dominance were obstacles too great to overcome. After the Indian uprising in 1622, the colonists gave up attempts to christianize and live peacefully with the Powhatans.

Prior to the Pilgrims' arrival, an epidemic wiped out the majority of the New England Indians. Several survivors befriended and assisted the colonists. Good relations ended in 1636 when the Massachusetts Bay Puritans declared war on the Pequot Tribe and Plymouth was dragged into the conflict.

Who married Pocahontas? Some erroneously believe John Smith did. In actuality, she married John Rolfe, an Englishman who started the tobacco industry in Virginia. The John Smith connection stems from Smith's later writings relating an incidence of Pocahontas saving his life.

According to Longfellow's epic, The Courtship of Miles Standish, John Alden proposed to Priscilla Mullins on behalf of Standish and she replied, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?" Priscilla did in fact marry John Alden at Plymouth. The records do not mention Standish ever courting Priscilla.

On December 4, 1619 settlers stepped ashore at Berkeley Hundred along the James River and, in accordance with the proprietor's instruction that "the day of our ship's arrival . shall be yearly and perpetually kept as a day of thanksgiving," celebrated the first official Thanksgiving Day.

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims held a celebration to give thanks to God for his bounty and blessings. This occasion was the origin of the traditional Thanksgiving as we know it today.

The growth and development of these two English colonies, though geographically separated, contributed much to our present American heritage of law, religion, government, custom and language. As Governor Bradford of Plymouth stated,

"Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shown unto many, yea, in some sort, to our whole Nation."

The charter of the Virginia Company stated,

"Lastly and chiefly the way to prosper and achieve good success is to make yourselves all of one mind for the good of your country and your own, and to serve and fear God the giver of all goodness, for every plantation which our father hath not planted shall be rooted out."

Bradford, William. Bradford's History. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1908.

Breen, T. H. Puritans and Adventurers. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Hatch, Charles. The First 17 Years. Virginia 350th Anniversary Celebration Corporation, 1957.

Jennings, Francis. The Invasion of America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975.

Robbins, Roland W. Pilgrim John Alden's Progress. Plymouth, Massachusetts: Pilgrim Society, 1969.

Further reading:

Abernethy, Thomas P. The South in the New Nation, 1789-1819, Volume V of A History of the South, Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1961.

Billington, Ray Allen and Ridge, Martin Westward Expansion: A History of the American Frontier, New York and London, Macmillan Publishers, 1982.

Bettersworth, John K. The Land and the People, Austin, Texas, Steck-Vaughn Co., 1981.

Skates, John Ray Mississippi: The Study of Our State, Walthall Publishing Co., 1998.

Southerland Jr., Henry D. and Brown, Jerry E. The Federal Road Through Georgia, the Creek Nation, and Alabama, 1806-1836, University of Alabama Press, 1989.

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