Many Maine people have had an impact throughout the United States and the world. A glimpse of Maine Women in the World has been well described by Polly Welts Kaufman.
Maine authors have made their mark outside the state. From the top menu, Select Society>People (non-government)>Authors for the long list of links.
Then there are the baseball players who made it to the major leagues.
Traditionally selective men have been celebrated as the movers and shakers of history. There is much truth in the observation that “It has been well said that he who would satisfactorily study the fabric of a Commonwealth must first study the men who formed it.” Thus the theme of the 1895 book Representative Men of Maine, which also noted in its introduction: “Men are always a State’s best product, and a proper portrayal of them should be regarded as a laudable enterprise.”
Of course these men were “prominent” and “successful” as defined by the upper class, having omitted labor leaders, and other social reformers. Nevertheless, many also made a mark outside the state.
Especially during the 19th century, when the state’s population was large enough to have a significant membership in the U.S. Congress, Maine people played an influential role in that institution.
Thomas Brackett Reed was a powerful Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in the late 19th century. Known as “Czar Reed” and “Boss Reed,” he developed and imposed “Reed rules” of procedure on the House and used them effectively to produce the results he favored. Forrest Goodwin, of Skowhegan, was Reed’s clerk in the 51st Congress (1889-1891).
A century later George J. Mitchell became U.S. Senate Majority Leader, the most powerful position in that body.
Edward Kavanagh was one of the four Maine members on the joint commission on the northeastern boundary in 1842 as a result of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty resolving the Aroostook War. He had previous diplomatic experience having been appointed Chargé d’Affaires to Portugal in 1835, serving until 1841.
Gorham Parks served as United States consul at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 1845-1849.
John Appleton, a member of Congress living in Portland, was chief clerk of the Navy Department 1845-1848 and of the Department of State from January 26 to April 25, 1848. He served as Minister to Bolivia from March 30, 1848, to May 4, 1849.
Elisha Hunt Allen, a Maine legislator and member of Congress, served as consul to Honolulu in 1850 and was chief justice and regent of the Hawaiian Islands, and envoy to the United States in 1856 and 1864. He served as minister from the Kingdom of Hawaii to the United States from 1869 until his sudden death January 1, 1883, while attending a diplomatic reception given by President Chester A. Arthur in the White House.
Hannibal Hamlin served as United States Minister to Spain from 1881 to 1882.
William P. Frye was a member of the commission which met in Paris in September 1898 to adjust terms of peace between the United States and Spain after the Spanish-American War.
Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman to serve as a United State Senator. She was the first senator to speak out against Senator Joseph McCarthy and his committee on Un-American Affairs with her “declaration of conscience speech,” delivered to the Senate in June of 1950. In 1964 she made an unsuccessful bid to become the Republican nominee for President.
James G. Blaine, a U.S. Senator from Maine, was an unsuccessful candidate for nomination for President on the Republican ticket in 1876 and 1880. He served briefly as Secretary of State under Presidents James Garfield and Chester Arthur. Blaine finally gained the Republican nomination for President in 1884 but lost to Grover Cleveland.
Hannibal Hamlin was the only Maine resident to become Vice President of the United States, elected with Abraham Lincoln in 1860.
Hugh J. Anderson from Wiscasset served the federal government in Washington in the Treasury Department as commissioner of customs and as Auditor of the Treasury.
Nathan Clifford was Attorney General of the United States (1846-1848) under President James Polk. He was commissioner to Mexico, with the rank of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary (1848-1849). He arranged for the treaty with the Mexican Government by which California became a part of the United States.
William S. Cohen served as Secretary of Defense under President William J. Clinton, 1997-2001.
David F. Emery served as deputy director of the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1983-1988.
Maine members of the Peace Convention of 1861 held in Washington, D.C., in an effort to devise means to prevent the impending Civil War, included William Pitt Fessenden, Stephen C. Foster, and Ezra French.
John N. Goodwin was appointed by President Lincoln in 1863 as chief justice of Arizona Territory and later that year as the first Governor of the Territory. He entered the Territory and formally proclaimed its organization at Navajo Springs, on December 29, 1863.
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell was appointed by President Clinton as special adviser to the President and the Secretary of State for economic initiatives in Ireland. President Barak Obama appointed Mitchell as his special envoy to seek a settlement to the Palestinian-Israel disputes over land and boundaries.
Edmund S. Muskie was U.S. Secretary of State in 1980-1981, having been appointed by President Jimmy Carter.
After serving in several judicial positions and as Governor, Albion K. Parris became the second person to hold the office of Comptroller of the United States Treasury, which he held from 1836 to 1850.
Congressman Francis O.J. Smith was an early congressional supporter of Samuel F.B.Morse’s telegraph, with a favorable report proposing financial support to implement its use in the United State.
James Bates served as a surgeon during the War of 1812 and was present at the surrender of Fort Erie. He was in charge of the general military hospital near Buffalo, New York, until May 1815.
Waldo County’s Alden J.Blethen was a newspaper publisher in Minneapolis and then in Washington State where he owned the Seattle Times. That company later purchased the Portland Maine newspapers, the Press Herald and the Sunday Telegram.
John Ford was an Academy Award winning motion picture director, was born in Portland in an area now part of Cape Elizabeth.
Hiram S. Maxim born in Sangerville, moved to England where he produced several inventions, the most famous (or infamous) of which was the machine gun. His son, Hiram P. Maxim, was pioneer of amateur radio and in producing home movies.
Robert A. Rushworth, born in Madison, was the second “winged” astronaut and a U.S. Air Force test pilot.
Francis and Freelan Stanley (twins) were born in Kingfield. They formed the Stanley Dry Plate Company in 1883 to manufacture plates for the photographic process invented by Francis. They sold the company to Eastman Kodak in 1905. Their interest had turned to steam-powered automobiles – the Stanley Steamer.
The Washburn family of Livermore has been legendary in Maine history. No other family ever sent four brothers to the United States Congress from four different states–or from seven brothers produced four congressmen, two governors, one senator, one secretary of state, one army general and two ambassadors.
Chase, Henry. Representative Men of Maine. A COLLECTION OF PORTRAITS WITH BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF RESIDENTS OF THE STATE WHO HAVE ACHIEVED SUCCESS AND ARE PROMINENT IN COMMERCIAL, INDUSTRIAL, PROFESSIONAL AND POLITICAL LIFE, TO WHICH IS ADDED THE PORTRAITS AND SKETCHES OF ALL THE GOVERNORS SINCE THE FORMATION OF THE STATE. Portland, Me. The Lakeside Press. 1893.