In October of 1819, delegates met in Portland to create a state constitution and on this day, March 15, 1820, Maine was admitted into the Union. On this historical day, we decided to do a little research on this great state and city.
A province of Massachusetts since 1647, the addition of Maine as a free state was negotiated as part of the Missouri Compromise in exchange for Missouri as a slave state. By the 1820’s, the population of Maine had reached nearly 300,000, with 9 counties and 236 towns. Portland was selected as the state capital, but only temporarily as the capital was moved to the centrally located Augusta in 1832.
What else was going on in America? The 1820 census showed 9,638,453 people living in the United States. James Monroe was elected a second term in office and the most populated state was New York, with 1,372,812 residents.
The Portland seal depicts a phoenix rising from ashes, and the city’s motto is Resurgam – Latin for “I will rise again.” The motto refers to Portland’s recoveries from four devastating fires. Speaking of devastating events, we had a few; The area was completely destroyed by the Abenaki people during King Philip’s War in 1676, and destroyed again in 1690 during King William’s War by French and Indian forces. It was then generally abandoned until the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1713.
On October 18, 1775, the community was destroyed yet again during the Revolutionary War. Three-quarters of the town was in ashes after the burning of Falmouth. There’s more.. On July 4, 1866, during independence day celebrations, The Great Fire destroyed most of the commercial buildings in the city, half the churches and hundreds of homes. More than 10,000 people were left homeless. After this fire, Portland was rebuilt with brick and reflects the Victorian appearance we enjoy today.
Only a snippet of our history, but a good reflection of how the community continued to reflect its motto throughout years. So happy birthday Maine, for enduring, prospering and rising above the ashes.