Throwback Thursday: The Time Massachusetts Bought Maine
On March 13, 1677, the imperial dreams of Massachusetts came to fruition. For on that day, our colony bought Maine for £1,250 sterling.
This was maine-ly (sorry) a formality for we had long since decided that the territory was ours. Decades earlier, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, an Englishman who never actually visited America, had gained a grant to the land now known as Maine and sponsored its settlement and growth. Shortly after his death, Massachusetts struck.
“Massachusetts had watched Maine grow with both apprehension and greed,” writes Harry Gratwick in Hidden History of Maine. “In 1652, with Gorges no longer around, the colony’s leaders in Boston decided to seize the moment. Massachusetts Bay revised its charter and extended its boundary eastward to Casco Bay. Shortly after this, the boundary was extended to Penobscot Bay. Maine had been absorbed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.”
Like any occupation, this didn’t necessarily go over well with the settlers of Maine or leaders in England (to say nothing of the Native Americans.) But despite rulings from the King that Massachusetts had no right to the land, they maintained their control there for several years of political turmoil. That finally ended when Massachusetts Bay Colony leaders purchased Maine from Gorges’ heirs. The deed reads:
The said Ferdinando Gorges for and in Consideration of the Sum of One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty Pounds of lawful English Money … Doth Grant Bargain and Sell … All That County Palatine Part Purporty or Portion of the Main Land of New England aforementioned called or known by the Name of the Province or County of Maine.
It remained in our jurisdiction until 1820, when it was admitted as a state by the Missouri Compromise. Like Britain, Massachusetts must now consider empire a dream from its past.