Posted by Juliana Szucs on April 4, 2014 in Website

Hemlock Bridge, Northeast Harbor vicinity, Hancock County, METhis week’s dive into the history of the state of Maine was an interesting one and full of contradictions. It is the largest New England state (nearly as large as all of the other New England states combined), and it is also the most sparsely populated state east of the Mississippi.

It declared war on our neighbor to the north (the only state to declare war on a foreign country), but there were no casualties. (O.K., no human casualties. There are reports that a pig and a cow who wandered into the fray were casualties of the Aroostook War over Maine’s northern border.)

There are even directional contradictions. Coastal Maine from Penobscot Bay east and north to Canada is considered “Down East.” Travel between Massachusetts and its frontier district, that would later become the state of Maine, was easiest by water in early America. Since the ships were sailing downwind and to ports that were to the east of Massachusetts ports, it was considered “Down East.” The return trip was “up to Boston” despite Boston’s location south of Maine.

Want to learn more about the “Pine Tree State?” Check out our latest state research guide—Maine.

(Looking for another state? You can find all the guides we’ve completed to date here. If we’re missing your state, stay tuned. It’s coming.)

Juliana Szucs

Juliana Szucs has been working for for more than 20 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program.


  1. Janice

    Love getting this individual state history! With lots of my ancestors being from Maine, it really helps to have the historical timeline and helps explain why a couple of ancestors came from both Maine and Massachusetts!

  2. Paula Tillman

    I was born and have lived my whole life in southern Maine. The state is so big that southern Maine and northern Maine seem like two separate states! I love being close to the ocean, but also to rivers and lakes. Summers here are special as I think we appreciate the warmer weather for as long as we have it…

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