Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Plantations

Plantation form of government was at first indistinguishable from that of a town. As Massachusetts gradually gained more Jurisdiction in the Province of Maine, the General Court would occasionally place a tax on a new tract and the inhabitants then met and elected plantation officers for the collection of that tax. After Maine became a state in 1820, the plantation status remained generally unchanged for 20 years.

At no time in the history of Province, District or State [of Maine] has it been required that a plantation become a town, nor that a town should have a previous existence as a plantation. In 1840, a law provided that plantations could organize themselves ”for election purposes,” only requiring a return to the Secretary of State of the date of organization and a description of bounds. This act was the impetus for groupings of scattered settlers or, more often lumbermen, and large areas were often organized into one plantation; there were several – 4 township plantations and two of 8 townships – during this period. Since 1859, a plantation organized for election purposes may comprise not more than one township. State and county taxes are assessed directly on the owners in such organizations, which are now known as “plantations taxed as wild lands.”

It should be explained that this type of organization has been closely allied with the lumbering industry. The land of these tracts is largely owned or leased by lumbering corporations; often, there is little probability of permanence, for when the cutting of the timber is completed, the workmen move on. A number of plantations have grown larger in population than some towns; when the township acquires a population of 200 or more, a warrant is issued by the county commissioners for organization “for the assessment of taxes.” This latter type of plantation has all the powers of towns and differs only slightly in its responsibilities; plantation assessors serve both as selectmen and as assessors and there are fewer minor officers than in towns.

Source:  Counties, Cities, Towns, and Plantations of Maine: a handbook of incorporations, dissolutions, and boundary changes. Prepared by the Maine Historical Records Survey Project, Division of Professional and Service Projects, Work Projects Administration [1940], updated in 1982.  Augusta, Me.  Maine State Archives. 1982? p. 65.

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This entry was last modified: July 12, 2011 06:40 PM

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