Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Constitution, Maine

Title page from the Maine Constitution, Maine State Archives photo

Title page from the Maine Constitution, Maine State Archives photo

Article I. Declaration of Rights.

Article II. Electors.

Article III. Distribution of Powers.

Article IV.

Part First. House of Representatives.

Part Second. Senate.

Part Third. Legislative Power.

Article V.

Part First. Executive Power.

Part Second. Secretary.

Part Third. Treasurer.

Article VI. Judicial Power.

Article VII. Military.

Article VIII.

Part First. Education.

Part Second. Municipal Home Rule.

Article IX. General Provisions.

Article X. Additional Provisions.

After the American Revolution and the economic prosperity that followed it, residents of the District of Maine became increasingly conscious of their own identity and increasingly resentful of rule from Massachusetts. All this was intensified by the perception that Boston did little to protect Maine during the War of 1812.

Portland's First Parish Meeting House (2002)

Portland's First Parish Meeting House (2002)

Several referenda were held (1792, 1797, 1816, 1819) testing voter sentiment for separation. Finally, after the last and most supportive vote, a Constitutional Convention was convened on October 11, 1819 at the First Parish Meeting House in Portland. The resulting document served as the new state’s basic law when, through the Congressional “Missouri Compromise,” Maine became the 23rd state on March 15, 1820. The President of the Convention, William King, was declared Governor until elections could be held the following month.

While the Maine Constitution has been amended many times since 1820, it has been recodified every ten years beginning in the late 19th century. The repealed portions have been deleted and the original structure has remained intact, making it one of the shorter state constitutions.

This Preamble and links on the left panel are from the 2003 “arrangement” supervised by the Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and approved by the Maine State Legislature, Resolve 2003, chapter 98.

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PREAMBLE to the MAINE CONSTITUTION

Objects of government. We the people of Maine, in order to establish justice, insure tranquility, provide for our mutual defense, promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty, acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity, so favorable to the design; and, imploring God’s aid and direction in its accomplishment, do agree to form ourselves into a free and independent State, by the style and title of the State of Maine and do ordain and establish the following Constitution for the government of the same.

Source: http://maine.gov/legis/const/ (accessed October 26, 2011)

Additional resources

An Address to the people of Maine, from the convention of delegates, assembled at Portland. Portland, Me. F. Douglas, Printer. 1820. [Maine State Library]

Banks, Ronald. Maine Becomes a State: The Movement to Separate Maine from Massachusetts, 1785-1820. Portland. Maine Historical Society. 1973.

Tinkle, Marshall J. The Maine State Constitution: A Reference Guide. Westport, Conn. Greenwood Press. 1992.

Palmer, Kenneth T. and Marcus LiBrizzi. “Development of the Maine Constitution: The Long Tradition, 1819-1988.” Maine Historical Society Quarterly. Winter, 1989.

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