Episode 384: Joshua Smith, Making Maine: A Journey to Statehood

"Sir George Colliers victory in Penobscot Bay 1779" from The New York Public Library

Book cover of Making Maine: Statehood and The War of 1812 Article IV, Section 3 of the United States Constitution establishes guidelines by which the United States Congress can admit new states into the American Union. It clearly states that “no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State…without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”

Five states have been formed from pre-existing states: Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Maine. How did the process of forming a state from a pre-existing state work? Why would territories within a state want to declare their independence from their home state?

Joshua Smith, the interim director of the American Merchant Marine Museum in Kings Point, New York, and author of the book Making Maine: Statehood and the War of 1812, leads us on an exploration of Maine’s journey to statehood.

Feature image from The New York Public Library.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of Colonial Williamsburg Innovation Studios.

Episode Summary

Headshot of Joshua Smith Joshua Smith is an award-winning curator, professor, and the interim director of the American Merchant Marine Museum in Kings Point, New York. He joins us to discuss the impact of the War of 1812 on the American Northeast and Maine’s journey to statehood with details from his book, Making Maine: Statehood and the War of 1812.

During our conversation, Josh reveals: Maine’s early history and how this territory became a part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; The benefits and challenges Mainers faced as residents of Massachusetts’ northern and eastern districts; And how the War of 1812 grew the momentum for Mainers’ calls for independent statehood.

What You’ll Discover

• Relationship between Maine and Massachusetts
• Maine and the American Revolutionary War
• Political and social climate of early Maine
• Leaders of the movement for Maine's statehood
• Maine and the United States government
• British Navy occupation of military and trading posts in U.S. territories
• Maine and the War of 1812
• Direct taxation in the Massachusetts Bay colony
• Maine Maritime History

Links to People, Places, and Publications

Joshua Smith
• Joshua Smith, Making Maine: Statehood and the War of 1812
• Laura Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812
• Alan Taylor, Liberty Men and Great Proprietors
Maine State Archives
United States Marine Academy

Sponsor Links

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
The Power of Place: The Centennial Campaign for Colonial Williamsburg
BFW Listener exclusive deal with NordVPN

Complementary Episodes

Episode 030: Northern New England’s Religious Geography
Episode 057: Money and the American State
Episode 098: Birth of the American Tax Man
Episode 103, James Monroe and & His Estate Highland
Episode 134: Pulpit and Nation
Episode 309: Merchant Ships of the Eighteenth Century

Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

What might have been the long-term consequences for Maine, and the broader United States, if Maine had not gained statehood following the War of 1812? What would Maine’s history have been like if it had remained a territory and a part of Massachusetts?

Questions, Comments, Suggestions

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