Monday, May 24, 2010

Booknotes: Thank You, New Hampshire

(Editor's Note: I recently bought a copy of Ronald Banks's Maine Becomes a State: The Movement to Separate Maine from Massachusetts, 1785-1820, so I figured I'd kick off a new feature of the blog that will include thoughts on Maine-themed books I'm currently reading.)

Given our geographical and cultural proximity to New Hampshire, we Mainers have long had a natural and bitter rivalry with our neighbors to the south. The 260-year-old boundary dispute between the two states regarding ownership of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, for example, was finally decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2001. Then there's the fact that our southern neighbors are often depicted as our fiscal and economic foil, the granite-ribbed John Galt to our flabby-bellied beggar (see here, here, and here for just a few examples). And most recently, the U.S. Census Bureau's 2009 population estimates not only highlighted the fact that we were one of only three states to actually lose residents, but it is also rubbed our noses into the fact that more people now live in New Hampshire than in Maine for the first time since 1800.

Despite these rivalries (and let's face it, slight jealousies), though, we Mainers do owe New Hampshire a big thank-you. Why, you may ask? Well, simply for existing:

Thus, from 1691 to 1820 there was no political
entity known as Maine, only Massachusetts, which included all the territory
between New Brunswick and Rhode Island except for a segment of New Hampshire
that inconveniently protruded to the sea. It was this wedge of land that denied
to Massachusetts that complete and binding integration she desired, for through
the years this geographic fact of life served to remind those in Maine as well
as in England that the union of Maine and Massachusetts was not only
an unwilling but an unnatural one
[Emphasis mine]

- John C.L. Morgan

1 comment:

maine.ale said...

Great stuff John. Banks' "Maine Becomes a State" is a great read and should be kept alive as should the memory of the author who was murdered in New Orleans in 1979 after being robbed.