August 9, 2019

Maine’s 200th birthday

By Senator Bill Diamond

In July of 1819 the voters of the District of Maine voted overwhelmingly to approve our secession from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Less than a year later, on March 15, 1820, an Act of Congress made it finally so, and Maine became the 23rd state in the union. As those of you who remember your history lessons may know, the establishment of the State of Maine was ultimately part of the Missouri Compromise, which kept the balance between free and slave-owning states equal.

Maine has certainly lived up to our motto, “Dirigo,” which translates from Latin to “I lead”:

We were leaders as a new free state, in the Civil War when the famed 20th Maine Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, led by Col. Joshua Chamberlain fixed their bayonets at Little Round Top, successfully turning the tide of the deadliest battle of the Civil War towards the Union. We sent the first woman, Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, to serve in both houses of Congress, and she herself led her colleagues against the tide of McCarthyism in 1950. The leadership of Chamberlain and Smith paved the way for Sens. Ed Muskie, Bill Cohen, George Mitchell and others from Maine to stand above the petty fights of the day and accomplish great things for the people of Maine and the country.
So clearly, there is much to celebrate.

Last week, for the anniversary of Maine’s statehood vote, the Maine Bicentennial Commission kicked off our state’s 200th anniversary party. Gov. Janet Mills conducted a whirlwind tour of the state, from Presque Isle to Bangor to Portland to Augusta in one day. At each location she raised a ceremonial flag and dedicated a Tricentennial Pine Grove with local leaders, and announced programs and events for Maine’s 200th anniversary of Statehood. chair of the Bicentennial Commission, which comprises various legislators, the governor, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, and officials representing various organizations of historic and civil
importance, I was lucky enough to take part in ceremonies in Portland’s Deering Oaks Park. It was a touching ceremony dedicated to both Maine’s past and future, and Gov. Mills delivered remarks that highlighted all that makes Maine great and wonderful.

It was the first of what will be many events and programs marking our state’s 200th birthday.
Starting in March of next year, and going through October, there will be concerts, a parade, festivals and fireworks. In addition, the largest ever display of tall ships from around the world will be coming to Maine ports, starting in Portland and making stops up the Maine coast. This will be a spectacular showing, and people will be invited aboard to view these magnificent structures. Community grants will also be made available to cities and towns to host their own bicentennial celebrations, which will allow local communities to celebrate in whatever way they see fit.

There will also be a Maine200 Time Capsule exhibit on the State House grounds in Augusta, which will highlight moments in Maine history; facilitated, topic-focused book discussion groups, promoting literacy at public and school libraries across the state, put on by the Maine Humanities Council; an interactive 360 virtual reality experience of notable places in the State of Maine, available through the State Archives; and other programs celebrating Maine’s history and culture.

To learn more about Maine’s 200th anniversary, see a schedule of events and programs or apply for a community grant, visit

As always, please feel free to contact me or my office with any questions, comments or concerns. You can call (207)287-1515 or email me at It’s a pleasure to serve as your state senator.

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