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The Making of the 50 States: Maine


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• Part 2: The Rest of the Story

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The Making of the 50 States
The 13 American Colonies
Clickable map of the 13 Colonies with descriptions of each colony
American History Glossary
The First European Settlements in America
Colonial Times

Part 1: In the Beginning

The place we now call Maine was, of course, first inhabited by Native Americans, including the Micmacs and the Abenakis. The Micmacs were more warlike, and the Abenakis preferred peace, along with fishing and farming.

The famous explorer Leif Ericson is thought to have explored the coast of Maine. The first known European to see the Maine coastline was John Cabot, who claimed the land for his ruler, King Henry VII, in 1497.

Cabot didn't get out of his ship, though. The first European to set foot on Maine's coastline was Simon Ferdinando, a Portugese navigator, in 1597.

Ferdinando didn't stick around, though, and so the first European settlement was made up of French people, who settled at the mouth of the St Croix River in 1604. That year and the next, the famous explorer Samuel de Champlain wandered through, mapping the area for France.

In 1607, while English settlers were struggling to survive at the famous Jamestown colony down in Virginia, English settlers were also struggling to survive up in Maine, at a colony called Popham. Although Jamestown flourished, Popham did not.

English settlers returned to Maine, as they did to other colonies up and down the eastern seaboard; but the deadly combination of harsh winters and attacks by Native Americans made settlements in Maine few and far between. Sir Ferdinando Gorges, a settler, gave the area its name in 1622. The area was eventually part of Massachusetts in 1658, when that colony officially took over all of Maine's present lands.

Because Maine was so close to English and French settlements in Canada, the Maine area was a battleground during the French and Indian War. The English victory in that war ended all French claims to Maine.

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