The story

Everything you wanted to know about Maine, history, economy people and more - History

Everything you wanted to know about Maine, history, economy people and more - History

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Basic Information

Postal Abbreviation: ME
Natives: Mainer

Population 2018: 1,338,404
Legal Driving Age: 17
(*16 w/ Driver's Ed.)
Age of Majority: 18
Median Age: 42.7

State Song: “State of Maine Song”
Lyrics & Music: Roger V.Snow

Median Household Income:$53,024

Capital..... Augusta
Entered Union..... Mar. 14, 1820 (23rd)

Present Constitution Adopted: 1819

Nickname: Pine Tree State
Old Dirigo State

“Dirigo” (I Direct)

Origin of Name:
May be named for the French providence Mayne– Owned by Queen Henrietta Maria (wife of Charles I of England) or to distinguish the maineland from the offshore islands.

USS Maine

Railroad Stations

Maine Economy

AGRICULTURE: Apples, cattle,
blueberries, eggs, milk, potatoes,

MINING: Gemstones, sand and gravel,

MANUFACTURING: electronics, food
processing, leather products, ships,
wood products.

Maine Geography

Total Area: 33,741 sq. miles
Land area: 30,865 sq. miles
Water Area: 2,876 sq. miles
Geographic Center: Piscataquis
N of Dover
Highest Point: Mount Katahdin
(5,267 ft.)
Lowest Point: Atlantic Ocean
(sea level)
Highest Recorded Temp.: 105˚ F (7/10/1911)
Lowest Recorded Temp.: –48˚ F (1/19/1925)

Maine is a hilly state. Its coast line is highly irregular, so that the total length of the coastline comes to nearly 2,000 feet. Much of the state is covered by forests. It has many lakes and small rivers. The White Mountains are the major range in the state.


Portland, 66,194
Lewiston, 36,592
Bangor, 33,039
South Portland, 25,002
Auburn, 23,055
Biddeford, 21,277
Sanford, 20,792
Brunswick, 20,278
Augusta, 19,136
Scarborough, 18,919

Maine History

1497-1499 John Cabot explored the coast of Maine claiming it for England.
1524 Giovanni da Verrrazano explored the coast for France.
1628 Pilgrims from the Plymouth colony moved into Maine.
1652 The Massachusetts Bay Colony annexed Maine.
1675 A warfare began with the French and Indians that lasted for 100 years.
1819 Maine voted to separate from Massachusetts.
1820 Maine was admitted to the union as the 23rd state.

Famous People

Henry Longfellow
Edmunnd Muskie
Nelson Rockefeller
William Cohen

Maine National Sites

1) Acadia National Park
Located on Mount Desert Island. The park was created by private donations. The park covers 35,000 acres.

2) Saint Croix Island International Historic Site
this site is located at the site of the first attempted French settlement of Maine.

Everything to know about Acadia National Park

One of the nation’s most beloved parks, Acadia protects a patch of coastal Maine where the north woods tumble down to meet the wild Atlantic. The first national park east of the Mississippi River sprawls across half of Mount Desert Island, with small portions on smaller islands and the mainland. For generations, it’s been the place where New Englanders escape into nature and learn to cherish the wild side of Down East.

Named after the French settlers who were expelled from Atlantic Canada by the British, Acadia is the nation’s easternmost national park and one of the first places in the United States to see the sunrise each day.

Everything you wanted to know about Maine, history, economy people and more - History

The American Revolution was a time when the British colonists in America rebelled against the rule of Great Britain. There were many battles fought and the colonies gained their freedom and became the independent country of the United States. The American Revolutionary War lasted from 1775 until 1783.

Before the American Revolution, there were several British Colonies in the Americas. Not all of them participated in the revolution. There were 13 colonies which ended up rebelling. These were Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island.

Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull

One of the main reasons that the colonists rebelled against Great Britain is that they felt they were not represented in the British government. The British government was making new laws and taxes on the colonies, but the colonies had no say. They wanted to have some say in the British government if they were going to pay high taxes and have to live by British law.

War didn't happen right away. First there were protests and arguments. Then some small skirmishes between the colonists and the local British army. Things just got worse and worse over the course of years until the colonies and Great Britain were at war.

Each colony had its own local government. In 1774 they each elected officials to represent them at the First Continental Congress. This was the first effort of the colonies to unite and make a single government. In 1776 the Second Continental Congress declared the independence of the United States from Great Britain.

The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor by Nathaniel Currier

The new government of the United States was different than the government of the colonist's homeland, Great Britain. They decided that they didn't want to be ruled by a king anymore. They wanted a government that was ruled by the people. The new government would be a democratic government with leaders elected by the people and balances of power to make sure that no one could become king.

25f. Irish and German Immigration

In the middle half of the nineteenth century, more than one-half of the population of Ireland emigrated to the United States. So did an equal number of Germans . Most of them came because of civil unrest, severe unemployment or almost inconceivable hardships at home. This wave of immigration affected almost every city and almost every person in America. From 1820 to 1870, over seven and a half million immigrants came to the United States &mdash more than the entire population of the country in 1810. Nearly all of them came from northern and western Europe &mdash about a third from Ireland and almost a third from Germany. Burgeoning companies were able to absorb all that wanted to work. Immigrants built canals and constructed railroads. They became involved in almost every labor-intensive endeavor in the country. Much of the country was built on their backs.

Letter to the London Times from an Irish Immigrant in America, 1850

I am exceedingly well pleased at coming to this land of plenty. On arrival I purchased 120 acres of land at $5 an acre. You must bear in mind that I have purchased the land out, and it is to me and mine an "estate for ever", without a landlord, an agent or tax-gatherer to trouble me. I would advise all my friends to quit Ireland &mdash the country most dear to me as long as they remain in it they will be in bondage and misery.

What you labour for is sweetened by contentment and happiness there is no failure in the potato crop, and you can grow every crop you wish, without manuring the land during life. You need not mind feeding pigs, but let them into the woods and they will feed themselves, until you want to make bacon of them.

I shudder when I think that starvation prevails to such an extent in poor Ireland. After supplying the entire population of America, there would still be as much corn and provisions left us would supply the world, for there is no limit to cultivation or end to land. Here the meanest labourer has beef and mutton, with bread, bacon, tea, coffee, sugar and even pies, the whole year round &mdash every day here is as good as Christmas day in Ireland.

Anti-Irish sentiment permeated the United States during the Industrial Revolution. The prejudice exhibited in advertisements like this one sometimes led to violent outbursts.

In Ireland almost half of the population lived on farms that produced little income. Because of their poverty, most Irish people depended on potatoes for food. When this crop failed three years in succession, it led to a great famine with horrendous consequences. Over 750,000 people starved to death. Over two million Irish eventually moved to the United States seeking relief from their desolated country. Impoverished, the Irish could not buy property. Instead, they congregated in the cities where they landed, almost all in the northeastern United States. Today, Ireland has just half the population it did in the early 1840s. There are now more Irish Americans than there are Irish nationals.

In the decade from 1845 to 1855, more than a million Germans fled to the United States to escape economic hardship. They also sought to escape the political unrest caused by riots, rebellion and eventually a revolution in 1848. The Germans had little choice &mdash few other places besides the United States allowed German immigration. Unlike the Irish, many Germans had enough money to journey to the Midwest in search of farmland and work. The largest settlements of Germans were in New York City, Baltimore, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Milwaukee.

With the vast numbers of German and Irish coming to America, hostility to them erupted. Part of the reason for the opposition was religious. All of the Irish and many of the Germans were Roman Catholic. Part of the opposition was political. Most immigrants living in cities became Democrats because the party focused on the needs of commoners. Part of the opposition occurred because Americans in low-paying jobs were threatened and sometimes replaced by groups willing to work for almost nothing in order to survive. Signs that read NINA &mdash " No Irish Need Apply " &mdash sprang up throughout the country.

The Know Nothing Party's platform included the repeal of all naturalization laws and a prohibition on immigrants from holding public office.

Ethnic and anti-Catholic rioting occurred in many northern cites, the largest occurring in Philadelphia in 1844 during a period of economic depression. Protestants, Catholics and local militia fought in the streets. 16 were killed, dozens were injured and over 40 buildings were demolished. " Nativist " political parties sprang up almost overnight. The most influential of these parties, the Know Nothings , was anti-Catholic and wanted to extend the amount of time it took immigrants to become citizens and voters. They also wanted to prevent foreign-born people from ever holding public office. Economic recovery after the 1844 depression reduced the number of serious confrontations for a time, as the country seemed to be able to use all the labor it could get.

But Nativism returned in the 1850s with a vengeance. In the 1854 elections, Nativists won control of state governments in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and California. They won elections in Maryland and Kentucky and took 45% of the vote in 5 other states. In 1856, Millard Fillmore was the American Party candidate for President and trumpeted anti-immigrant themes. Nativism caused much splintering in the political landscape, and the Republicans, with no platform or policies about it, benefited and rode to victory in the divisive election of 1860.


Agriculture Edit

Approximately 63 percent of the population was located in rural areas, where the majority of people worked in agriculture and rural industries. Under the responsibility system for agriculture instituted in 1981, the household replaced the production team as the basic production unit. Families contracted with the economic collective to farm a plot of land, delivered a set amount of grain or other produce and the agricultural tax to the state, and paid a fee to the collective. After meeting these obligations, the household was free to retain its surplus produce or sell it on free markets. Restrictions on private plots and household sideline production were lifted, and much of the produce from these were also sold on free markets.

Distribution of food and other agricultural goods to urban consumers, industry and rural areas deficient in food was carried out primarily by the state and secondarily by producers or cooperatives. The state procured agricultural goods by means of taxes in kind and by purchases by state commercial departments (state trading companies) under the Ministry of Commerce. The agricultural tax was not large, falling from 12 percent of the total value of agricultural output in 1952 to 5 percent in 1979.

In 1984 the number of agricultural and sideline products subject to state planning and purchasing quotas was reduced from twenty-nine to ten and included cereal grains, edible oil, cured tobacco, jute, hemp, and pigs. In 1985 the system of state purchasing quotas for agricultural products was abolished. Instead, the state purchased grain and cotton under contract at a set price. Once contracted quotas were met, grain and cotton were sold on the market at floating prices. If market prices fell below the listed state price, the state purchased all available market grain at the state price to protect the interests of producers. Vegetables, pigs, and aquatic products sold to urban, mining, and industrial areas were traded in local markets according to demand. Local commercial departments set the prices of these goods according to quality to protect the interests of urban consumers. All other agricultural goods were sold on the market to the state, to cooperatives, or to other producers.

Restrictions on private business activities were greatly reduced, permitting peasants as well as cooperatives to transport agricultural goods to rural and urban markets. This also allowed a rapid expansion of free markets in the countryside and in cities. The number of wholesale produce markets increased by 450 percent between 1983 and 1986, reaching a total of 1,100 and easing pressure on the state produce distribution network, which had been strained by the burgeoning agricultural production engendered by rural reforms. In 1986 free markets, called "commodity fairs," amounted to 61,000 nationwide.

Once the food was procured and transported to urban areas, it was sold to consumers by state-owned stores and restaurants. In the mid-1980s food items were also available in free markets, where peasants sold their produce, and in privately owned restaurants. As noted previously, the prices of pigs, aquatic products, and vegetables were determined by local authorities according to quality and demand. The prices of other products floated freely on the market. Except for grain, edible oil, and a few other rationed items, food items were in good supply.

Industrial goods used in agricultural production were sold to agricultural units in the 1980s. Local cooperatives or state supply and marketing bureaus sold most agricultural producer goods, including chemical fertilizer, s and insecticides, to households at set prices. The state also offered preferential prices for agricultural inputs to grain farmers to encourage grain production. Households were permitted to purchase agricultural machinery and vehicles to transport goods to the market. In order to ensure that rural units could cover the costs of the increasing quantities of industrial inputs required for higher yields, the government periodically reduced the prices of the industrial goods sold to farmers, while raising the procurement prices for agricultural products. In the mid-1980s, however, the price gap between agricultural and industrial products was widening to the disadvantage of farmers.

Industry Edit

After 1982, reforms moved China's economy to a mixed system based on mandatory planning, guidance planning (use of economic levers such as taxes, prices, and credit instead of administrative fiat), and the free market. In late 1984 further reforms of the urban industrial economy, and commerce reduced the scope of mandatory planning, increased enterprise autonomy and the authority of professional managers, loosened price controls to rationalize prices, and cut subsidies to enterprises. These changes created a "socialist planned commodity economy," essentially a dual economy in which planned allocation and distribution is supplemented by market exchanges based on floating or free prices.

As a result of these reforms, the distribution of goods used in industrial production was based on mandatory planning with fixed prices, guidance planning with floating prices, and the free market. Mandatory planning covered sixty industrial products, including coal, crude oil, rolled steel, nonferrous metals, timber, cement, electricity, basic industrial chemicals, chemical fertilizers, major machines and electrical equipment, chemical fibers, newsprint, cigarettes, and defense industry products. Once enterprises under mandatory planning had met the state's mandatory plans and supply contracts, they could sell surplus production to commercial departments or other enterprises. Prices of surplus industrial producer goods floated within limits set by the state. The state also had a planned distribution system for important materials such as coal, iron and steel, timber, and cement. Enterprise managers who chose to exceed planned production goals purchased additional materials on the market. Major cities established wholesale markets for industrial producer goods to supplement the state's allocation system.

Under guidance planning, enterprises try to meet the state's planned goals but make their own arrangements for production and sales based on the orientation of the state's plans, the availability of raw and unfinished materials and energy supplies, and the demands on the market. Prices of products under guidance planning either are unified prices or floating prices set by the state or prices negotiated between buyers and suppliers. Production and distribution of products not included in the state's plans are regulated by market conditions.

Lateral economic cooperation Edit

China also undertook measures to develop "lateral economic ties," that is, economic cooperation across regional and institutional boundaries. Until the late 1970s, China's planned economy had encouraged regional and organizational autarky, whereby enterprises controlled by a local authority found it almost impossible to do business with other enterprises not controlled by the same institution, a practice that resulted in economic waste and inefficiency. Lateral economic cooperation broke down some barriers in the sectors of personnel, resources, capital, technical expertise, and procurement and marketing of commodities. In order to promote increased and more efficient production and distribution of goods among regions and across institutional divisions, ties were encouraged among producers of raw and semi-finished materials and processing enterprises, production enterprises and research units (including colleges and universities), civilian and military enterprises, various transportation entities, and industrial, agricultural, commercial, and foreign trade enterprises.

A multitiered network of transregional economic cooperation associations also was established. The Seventh Five-Year Plan (1986–90) divided China into three regions — eastern, central, and western, each with its own economic development plans. In addition to the three major regions, three echelons of economic cooperation zones were created. The first echelon — national-level economic development zones — cut across several provincial-level boundaries and linked major economic areas. Among these were the Shanghai Economic Zone, the Northeastern Economic Zone, the energy production bases centering on Shanxi Province, the Beijing-Tianjin-Tangshan Economic Zone, and the Southwestern Economic Zone. The second-echelon network linked provincial-level capitals with designated ports and cities along vital communication lines and included the Huaihai Economic Zone (consisting of fifteen coastal prefectures and cities in Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, and Shandong provinces) and the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone centered on the southern city of Guangzhou. The third tier of zones centered on provincial-level capitals and included the Nanjing Regional Economic Cooperation Association. Smaller-scale lateral economic ties below the provincial level, among prefectures, counties, and cities, also were formed.

Retail sales Edit

Retail sales in China changed dramatically in the late 1970s and early 1980s as economic reforms increased the supply of food items and consumer goods, allowed state retail stores the freedom to purchase goods on their own, and permitted individuals and collectives greater freedom to engage in retail, service, and catering trades in rural and urban areas. Retail sales increased 300 percent from 1977 to 1985, rising at an average yearly rate of 13.9 percent — 10.5 percent when adjusted for inflation. In the 1980s retail sales to rural areas increased at an annual rate of 15.6 percent, outpacing the 9.7 percent increase in retail sales to urban areas and reflecting the more rapid rise in rural incomes. In 1977 sales to rural areas comprised 52 percent of total retail sales in 1984 rural sales accounted for 59.2 percent of the total. Consumer goods comprised approximately 88 percent of retail sales in 1985, the remaining 12 percent consisting of farming materials and equipment.

The number of retail sales enterprises also expanded rapidly in the 1980s. In 1985 there were 10.7 million retail, catering, and service establishments, a rise of 850 percent over 1976. Most remarkable in the expansion of retail sales was the rapid rise of collective and individually owned retail establishments. Individuals engaged in businesses numbered 12.2 million in 1985, more than 40 times the 1976 figure. Furthermore, as state-owned businesses either were leased or turned over to collective ownership or were leased to individuals, the share of state-owned commerce in total retail sales dropped from 90.3 percent in 1976 to 40.5 percent in 1985.

In 1987 most urban retail and service establishments, including state, collective, and private businesses or vendors, were located either in major downtown commercial districts or in small neighborhood shopping areas. The neighborhood shopping areas were numerous and were situated so that at least one was within easy walking distance of almost every household. They were able to supply nearly all the daily needs of their customers. A typical neighborhood shopping area in Beijing would contain a one-story department store, bookstore, hardware store, bicycle repair shop, combined tea shop and bakery, restaurant, theater, laundry, bank, post office, barbershop, photography studio, and electrical appliance repair shop. The department stores had small pharmacies and carried a substantial range of housewares, appliances, bicycles, toys, sporting goods, fabrics, and clothing. Major shopping districts in big cities contained larger versions of the neighborhood stores as well as numerous specialty shops, selling such items as musical instruments, sporting goods, hats, stationery, handicrafts, cameras, and clocks.

Supplementing these retail establishments were free markets in which private and collective businesses provided services, hawked wares, or sold food and drinks. Peasants from surrounding rural areas marketed their surplus produce or sideline production in these markets. In the 1980s urban areas also saw a revival of "night markets," free markets that operated in the evening and offered extended service hours that more formal establishments could not match.

In rural areas, supply and marketing cooperatives operated general stores and small shopping complexes near village and township administrative headquarters. These businesses were supplemented by collective and individual businesses and by the free markets that appeared across the countryside in the 1980s as a result of rural reforms. Generally speaking, a smaller variety of consumer goods was available in the countryside than in the cities. But the lack was partially offset by the increased access of some peasants to urban areas where they could purchase consumer goods and market agricultural items.

A number of important consumer goods, including grain, cotton cloth, meat, eggs, edible oil, sugar, and bicycles, were rationed during the 1960s and 1970s. To purchase these items, workers had to use coupons they received from their work units. By the mid-1980s rationing of over seventy items had been eliminated production of consumer goods had increased, and most items were in good supply. Grain, edible oil, and a few other items still required coupons. In 1985 pork rationing was reinstated in twenty-one cities as supplies ran low. Pork was available at higher prices in supermarkets and free markets.

History of Chinese foreign trade Edit

Chinese foreign trade began as early as the Western Han dynasty (206 BCE-9 CE), when the famous "Silk Road" through Central Asia was pioneered by Chinese envoys. During later dynasties, Chinese ships traded throughout maritime Asia, reaching as far as the African coast, while caravans extended trade contacts in Central Asia and into the Middle East. Foreign trade was never a major economic activity, however, and Chinese emperors considered the country to be entirely self-sufficient. During parts of the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties, trade was officially discouraged. In the mid-eighteenth century, the government restricted sea trade by setting up the Canton System.

In the nineteenth century, European nations used military force to initiate sustained trade with China. From the time of the Opium War (1839–42) until the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, various Western countries and, starting in the 1890s, Japan compelled China to agree to a series of unequal treaties that enabled foreigners to establish essentially autonomous economic bases and operate with privileged status in China. One classic account of this period is Carl Crow's 400 Million Customers, a humorous but realistic guide which has lasting insights. [4] Foreign privileges were abolished when the People's Republic came into being.

Foreign trade did not account for a large part of the Chinese economy for the first thirty years of the People's Republic. As in most large, continental countries, the amount of commerce with other nations was small relative to domestic economic activity. During the 1950s and 1960s, the total value of foreign trade was only about 2 percent of the gross national product (GNP). In the 1970s trade grew rapidly but in 1979 still amounted to only about 6 percent of GNP.

The importance of foreign trade in this period, however, far exceeded its volume. Foreign imports alleviated temporary but critical shortages of food, cotton, and other agricultural products as well as long-term deficiencies in a number of essential items, including raw materials such as chrome and manufactured goods such as chemical fertilizer and finished steel products. The acquisition of foreign plants and equipment enabled China to utilize the more advanced technology of developed countries to speed its own technological growth and economic development.

During the 1950s China imported Soviet plants and equipment for the development program of the First Five-Year Plan (1953–57). At the same time, the Chinese government expanded exports of agricultural products to repay loans that financed the imports. Total trade peaked at the equivalent of US$4.3 billion in 1959, but a sudden decline in agricultural production in 1959-61 required China's leaders to suspend further imports of machinery to purchase foreign grain. Under a policy of "self-reliance," in 1962 total trade declined to US$2.7 billion. As the economy revived in the mid-1960s, plants and equipment again were ordered from foreign suppliers, and substantial growth in foreign trade was planned. But in the late 1960s, the activities of the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) caused trade again to decline.

The pragmatic modernization drive led by party leaders Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping and China's growing contacts with Western nations resulted in a sharp acceleration of trade in the early 1970s. Imports of modern plants and equipment were particularly emphasized, and after 1973 oil became an increasingly important export. Trade more than doubled between 1970 and 1975, reaching US$13.9 billion. Growth in this period was about 9 percent a year. As a proportion of GNP, trade grew from 1.7 percent in 1970 to 3.9 percent in 1975. In 1976 the atmosphere of uncertainty resulting from the death of Mao Zedong and pressure from the Gang of Four, whose members opposed reliance on foreign technology, brought another decline in trade.

Beginning in the late 1970s, China reversed the Maoist economic development strategy and, by the early 1980s, had committed itself to a policy of being more open to the outside world and widening foreign economic relations and trade. The opening up policy led to the reorganization and decentralization of foreign trade institutions, the adoption of a legal framework to facilitate foreign economic relations and trade, direct foreign investment, the creation of special economic zones, the rapid expansion of foreign trade, the importation of foreign technology and management methods, involvement in international financial markets, and participation in international foreign economic organizations. These changes not only benefited the Chinese economy but also integrated China into the world economy. In 1979 Chinese trade totaled US$27.7 billion - 6 percent of China's GNP but only 0.7 percent of total world trade. In 1985 Chinese foreign trade rose to US$70.8 billion, representing 20 percent of China's GNP and 2 percent of total world trade and putting China sixteenth in world trade rankings.

The table below shows the average annual growth (in nominal US dollar terms) of China's foreign trade during the reform era.

Period Two-way trade Exports Imports
1981-85 +12.8% +8.6% +16.1%
1986-90 +10.6% +17.8% +4.8%
1991-95 +19.5% +19.1% +19.9%
1996–2000 +11.0% +10.9% +11.3%
2000-05 +24.6% +25.0% +24.0%
2006 +27.2% +19.9% +23.8%
2007 +25.6% +20.8% +23.4%
2008 +17.9% +17.4% +18.5%

Trade policy in the 1980s Edit

Under the policy of opening up to the outside world, exports, imports, and foreign capital were all assigned a role in promoting economic development. Exports earned foreign currency, which was used to fund domestic development projects and to purchase advanced foreign technology and management expertise. Imports of capital goods and industrial supplies and foreign loans and investment were used to improve the infrastructure in the priority areas of energy, transportation, and telecommunications and to modernize the machine-building and electronics industries. To earn more foreign currency and to conserve foreign exchange reserves, foreign capital was also used to expand production of export commodities, such as textiles, and of import substitutes, such as consumer goods.

China has adopted a variety of measures to promote its foreign economic relations, maximizing the role of imports, exports, and foreign capital in economic development. Foreign trade organizations were reorganized, and control of imports and exports was relaxed or strengthened depending on the balance of trade and the level of foreign exchange reserves. Heavy purchases of foreign plants and equipment resulted in import restraint from 1980 to 1983. Because of the expansion of exports in the mid-1980s, a large foreign reserve surplus, and the decentralized management of foreign trade, imports surged. Huge, uncontrolled purchases of consumer goods led to trade deficits in 1984 and 1985, resulting in the introduction of an import and export licensing system, stricter controls on foreign exchange expenditures, and the devaluation of the yuan in order to reduce the trade deficit and ensure that machinery, equipment, and semi-finished goods, rather than consumer goods, were imported. In 1985 China had foreign exchange reserves of US$11.9 billion.

China joined a number of international economic organizations, becoming a member of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the Multi-Fiber Agreement. China became an observer of GATT in 1982 and formally applied to participate as a full member in July 1986. China also reversed its aversion to foreign capital, borrowing money from international lending organizations, foreign governments, and foreign commercial banks and consortia and permitting foreign banks to open branches in China. The Chinese government maintained a good credit rating internationally and did not pile up huge foreign debts like many other communist and developing countries. Between 1979 and 1985, China signed loans totaling US$20.3 billion, US$15.6 billion of which it already had used. Most loans went into infrastructure projects, such as energy and transportation, and funded raw materials imports. The Bank of China, the principal foreign exchange bank, established branches overseas and participated in international financial markets in Eurobonds and loan syndication.

Legal and institutional frameworks to facilitate foreign investment and trade also were created. Laws on taxation, joint ventures, foreign investments, and related areas were promulgated to encourage foreign investment. In 1979 China created four special economic zones in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou (in Guangdong Province), and Xiamen (in Fujian Province). (See Special Economic Zones of the People's Republic of China.) The special economic zones essentially were export-processing zones designed to attract foreign investment, expand exports, and import technology and expertise. In 1984 fourteen coastal cities were designated "open cities." These too were intended to attract foreign funds and technology. But in 1985 the government decided to concentrate resources on only four of the cities: Dalian, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Tianjin. Although the special economic zones and open cities had the power to grant investment incentives, problems with the red tape, bureaucratic interference, and lack of basic infrastructure resulted in less foreign investment and fewer high-technology projects than initially envisioned.

From 1979 to 1985, China received US$16.2 billion in foreign investment. By 1986 China had over 6,200 foreign-funded businesses, including 2,741 joint ventures, 3,381 cooperatively managed businesses, and 151 enterprises with sole foreign investment. Of the joint ventures, 70 percent were in production enterprises (manufacturing or processing) and 30 percent were service industries (primarily hotels or tourism). Hong Kong provided 80 percent of the joint venture partners, the United States 7 percent, and Japan 6 percent.

Organization of foreign trade Edit

The increasingly complex foreign trade [5] system underwent expansion and decentralization in the late 1970s and 1980s. In 1979 the Ministry of Foreign Trade's nine foreign trade corporations lost their monopoly on import and export transactions as the industrial ministries were permitted to establish their own foreign trade enterprises. The provincial branch corporations of the state foreign trade corporations were granted more autonomy, and some provinces, notably Fujian, Guangdong, and the special municipalities of Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai were permitted to set up independent, provincial-level import-export companies. Some selected provincial enterprises were granted autonomy in foreign trade decisions. In 1982 the State Council's Import-Export Control Commission, Foreign Investment and Control Commission, Ministry of Foreign Trade, and Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations were merged to form the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade. In 1984 the foreign trade system underwent further decentralization. Foreign trade corporations under this and other ministries and under provincial-level units became independent of their parent organizations and were responsible for their own profits and losses. An agency system for foreign trade also was established, in which imports and exports were handled by specialized enterprises and corporations acting as agents on a commission basis.

Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Edit

The main functions of the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade were to establish and supervise foreign trade policies to work with the State Planning Commission in setting long-term foreign trade plans and annual quotas for imports and exports to control imports and exports through licenses and quotas to supervise the management of foreign trade corporations and enterprises and to coordinate economic and trade relations with foreign governments and international economic organizations. The ministry also undertook international market research, led institutes of foreign economic relations and trade, and directed the General Administration of Customs.

Foreign trade corporations and enterprises Edit

In the late 1980s China had numerous specialized national corporations handling import and export transactions in such areas as arts and crafts, textiles, natural produce and animal byproducts, foodstuffs of various kinds, chemicals, light industrial products, metals and minerals technology, industrial machinery and equipment, petrochemical and petroleum products, scientific instruments, aerospace technology and services, ships, and weapons. Although nominally supervised by the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade each of these corporations was responsible for its own profits and losses. Included among these enterprises, for example, was the Great Wall Industrial Corporation, which imported and exported transportation vehicles, satellites and other products associated with aerospace programs, mechanical equipment, electrical products, hardware and tools, medical apparatus, and chemicals. China Northern Industrial Corporation, subordinate to the Ministry of Ordnance Industry, used military production facilities to manufacture civilian products for export. The business activities of China Northern Industrial Corporation included the sale of heavy machinery, hardware and tools, and heavy-duty vehicles light chemical industry products, such as plastic, paints, and coatings and high-precision machinery and optical and optical-electronic equipment. Other corporations offered a variety of professional consulting services. One of these, the China International Economic Consultants Corporation, provided economic and legal expertise on investment and other economic activities.

Financial transactions and investment Edit

Foreign exchange and reserves were controlled in the mid-1980s by the State Administration of Exchange Control under the People's Bank of China, the central bank. Foreign exchange allocations to banks, ministries, and enterprises were all approved by the State Administration of Exchange Control. The Bank of China, the foreign exchange arm of the People's Bank of China, lost its monopoly on all foreign exchange transactions in 1984 when the Agricultural Bank, People's Construction Bank, China Industrial and Commercial Bank, and China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) were permitted to deal in foreign currency. The Bank of China remained China's principal foreign exchange bank and provided loans for production and commercial transactions related to exports, set up branches overseas, maintained correspondent relations with foreign banks, and did research on international monetary trends. The Bank of China also was active in international financial markets through such activities as loan syndication and issuing of foreign bonds. CITIC, formed in 1979 to facilitate foreign investment in China, also borrowed and lent internationally and issued foreign bonds in addition to encouraging and participating in joint ventures, importing foreign technology and equipment, and making overseas investments. In 1986 CITIC was renamed CITIC Group and shifted its emphasis to power, metallurgical, and raw materials industries, which had trouble attracting investments. In late 1986 the CITIC Group had set up 47 joint ventures, invested in 114 domestic companies, and issued US$550 million in foreign bonds. The China Investment Bank was established in 1981 as a channel for medium- and long-term loans from international financial institutions such as the World Bank.

Other organizations involved in trade Edit

The State Council's State Planning Commission and State Economic Commission were involved in long-term planning for the development of foreign trade, and they developed national priorities for imports and exports. Several other organizations under the State Council were also involved in foreign trade matters: the Special Economic Zones Office, State Import and Export Commodities Inspection Administration, General Administration of Customs, and China Travel and Tourism Bureau. The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) assisted the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade in foreign trade relations. CCPIT handled trade delegations to and from China, organized foreign trade exhibitions in China and Chinese exhibitions in other countries, and published periodicals promoting Chinese trade. The People's Insurance Company of China expanded its operations in 1980 for the purpose of encouraging foreign trade. New categories of coverage offered to foreign firms included compensatory trade, satellite launching, nuclear power plant safety, offshore oil development insurance, insurance against contract failure, and insurance against political risk.

Composition of foreign trade Edit

The dominant pattern of foreign trade after 1949 was to import industrial producer goods from developed countries and to pay for them with exports of food, crude materials, and light manufactures, especially textiles. The pattern was altered as circumstances demanded in the period of economic collapse following the Great Leap Forward (1958–60), food imports increased from a negligible amount in 1959 to 39 percent of all imports in 1962. At the same time, imports of machinery and equipment dropped from 41 percent to 5 percent of the total. From this time on, food and live animals remained a significant, although declining, share of imports, amounting to 14.8 percent of the total in 1980 but dropping to 4.1 percent in 1985. The pattern also shifted over time as China's industrial sector expanded, gradually increasing the share of exports accounted for by manufactured goods. Manufactures provided only 30 percent of all exports in 1959, 37.9 percent in 1975, and grew to 44.9 percent in 1985.

Important changes occurred in several specific trade categories in the 1970s and 1980s. Imports of textile fibers rose from 5.8 percent in 1975 to 10.7 percent in 1980 as the Chinese textile industry grew faster than domestic cotton supplies but then fell to 4 percent in 1985 as domestic cotton production increased. Imports of unfinished textile products also increased from 1.3 percent in 1975 to 5.3 percent in 1985 as a result of textile industry growth. Iron and steel accounted for approximately 20 percent of imports in the 1970s, fell to 11.6 percent in 1980, then rose to 14.9 percent in 1985. Imports of manufactured goods, machinery, and transportation equipment represented 62.6 percent of total import value in 1975, fell to 53.9 percent in 1980 as imports were cut back during the "period of readjustment" of the economy (1979–81), and rose again to 75.2 percent in 1985. On the export side, the share of foodstuffs fell to 12.5 percent in 1985. The fastest growing export item in the 1970s was petroleum, which was first exported in 1973. Petroleum rocketed to 12.1 percent of all exports in 1975, 22 percent in 1980, and 21.2 percent in 1985. In the 1980s textile exports grew rapidly. Although exports of unfinished textiles remained about 14 percent of total exports, all categories of textile exports rose from 5 percent in 1975 to 18.7 percent in 1984. In 1986 textiles replaced petroleum as China's largest single export item.

Trading partners Edit

During the 1950s China's primary foreign trading partner was the Soviet Union. In 1959 trade with the Soviet Union accounted for nearly 48 percent of China's total. As relations between the two countries deteriorated in the early 1960s, the volume of trade fell, decreasing to only just over 7 percent of Chinese trade by 1966. During the 1970s trade with the Soviet Union averaged about 2 percent of China's total, while trade with all communist countries made up about 15 percent. In 1986, despite a trade pact with the Soviet Union, Chinese-Soviet trade, according to Chinese customs statistics, amounted to only 3.4 percent of China's total trade, while trade with all communist countries fell to 9 percent of the total. Studies have been conducted linking China's political influence through its trading ability. Countries that depend on China economically tend to appease China politically, allowing for China's newfound influence. [6]

By the mid-1960s Japan had become China's leading trading partner, accounting for 15 percent of trade in 1966. Japan was China's most natural trading partner it was closer to China than any other industrial country and had the best transportation links to it. The Japanese economy was highly advanced in those areas where China was weakest, especially heavy industry and modern technology, while China was well endowed with some of the important natural resources that Japan lacked, notably coal and oil. In the 1980s Japan accounted for over 20 percent of China's foreign trade and in 1986 provided 28.9 percent of China's imports and 15.2 percent of its exports. Starting in the late 1970s, China ran a trade deficit with Japan.

Beginning in the 1960s, Hong Kong was consistently the leading market for China's exports and its second largest partner in overall trade. In 1986 Hong Kong received 31.6 percent of Chinese goods sold abroad and supplied about 13 percent of China's imports. Hong Kong was a major market for Chinese foodstuffs and served as a trans-shipment port for Chinese goods reexported to other countries.

The United States banned trade with China until the early 1970s. Thereafter trade grew rapidly, and after the full normalization of diplomatic and commercial relations in 1979, the United States became the second largest importer to China and in 1986 was China's third largest partner in overall trade. Most American goods imported by China were either high-technology industrial products, such as aircraft, or agricultural products, primarily grain and cotton.

Western Europe has been important in Chinese foreign trade since the mid-1960s. The Federal Republic of Germany, in particular, was second only to Japan in supplying industrial goods to China during most of this period. China followed a policy of shopping widely for its industrial purchases, and it concluded deals of various sizes with nearly all of the West European nations. In 1986 Western Europe accounted for nearly 18 percent of China's foreign trade, with imports exceeding exports.

Third World countries have long served as a market for Chinese agricultural and light industrial products. In 1986 developing countries purchased about 15 percent of Chinese exports and supplied about 8 percent of China's imports. China has increased trade and investment ties with many African countries such as Chad, the Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, partly to secure strategic natural resources such as oil and minerals.

Today, China's main export markets, in order of importance, are the European Union (20.4%), United States (17.7%), Hong Kong (13.4%), and Japan (8.1%). China's main import markets, in order of importance, are Japan (13.3%), European Union (11.7%), South Korea (10.9%), Taiwan (9.1%), and the United States (7.2%).

Government of the New England Colonies:

There were two main government systems used in the New England colonies:

Royal colonies were ruled directly by the English monarchy and government officials were appointed by the crown.

Charter colonies were generally self-governed and government officials were elected by the colonists.

The New England colonies were all originally charter colonies and were quite proficient at self-governing themselves, according to Alan Taylor in his book American Colonies:

“By virtue of their especially indulgent charters, the New England colonies were virtually independent of crown authority. Answering to no external proprietors, the New English developed republican regimes where the propertied men elected their governors and councils, as well as their assemblies, and where much decision-making was dispersed to the many small towns” (Taylor 247.)

Many of the New England colonies eventually had their charters revoked though and became royal colonies when the crown began to tighten its control over the colonies due to its growing economic interest in colonial trade.

The monarchy first converted some of its southern colonies before attempting to convert the New England colonies, according to Taylor:

“During the seventeenth century, crown officials gradually converted a few proprietary colonies into royal colonies. Such conversion primarily meant that the king, rather than a proprietor, appointed the governor and council, for the crown felt obliged to retain the elected assemblies. The crown acted first where the revenues were greatest, to secure control over tobacco-rich Virginia and the sugar colonies of Barbados, the Leeward islands, and Jamaica. The crown was slower to reorganize the New England colonies because they lacked a lucrative staple critical to the royal revenue. Moreover, the numerous Puritan colonists promised to make any imperial attempt to compel their obedience expensive and difficult” (Taylor 247.)

After converting the southern colonies, the English monarchy established the Dominion of New England in 1686, merging the colonies of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, together into one large royal colony. Two years later, in 1688, New York and New Jersey were added to the Dominion.

The Dominion was short lived though and came to an end after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 occurred in England and the colonists rose up and overthrew the Dominion officials.

After the dominion was overthrown, many of the New England colonies remained royal colonies. A new charter was issued for Massachusetts Bay in 1691, which converted it into a royal colony called the Province of Massachusetts Bay and ordered Plymouth colony to be absorbed into the province.

A new charter was also issued for New Hampshire in 1691 which converted it into a royal colony called the Province of New Hampshire.

Only Connecticut and Rhode Island remained charter colonies after the Glorious Revolution.


There is no definitive explanation for the origin of the name "Maine", but the most likely is that early explorers named it after the former province of Maine in France. Whatever the origin, the name was fixed for English settlers in 1665 when the English King's Commissioners ordered that the "Province of Maine" be entered from then on in official records. [13] The state legislature in 2001 adopted a resolution establishing Franco-American Day, which stated that the state was named after the former French province of Maine. [14]

Other theories mention earlier places with similar names or claim it is a nautical reference to the mainland. [15] Captain John Smith, in his "Description of New England" (1614) [16] laments the lack of exploration: "Thus you may see, of this 2000. miles more then halfe is yet vnknowne to any purpose: no not so much as the borders of the Sea are yet certainly discouered. As for the goodnes and true substances of the Land, wee are for most part yet altogether ignorant of them, vnlesse it bee those parts about the Bay of Chisapeack and Sagadahock: but onely here and there wee touched or haue seene a little the edges of those large dominions, which doe stretch themselues into the Maine, God doth know how many thousand miles" Note that his description of the mainland of North America is "the Maine". The word "main" was a frequent shorthand for the word "mainland" (as in "The Spanish Main") [17]

Attempts to uncover the history of the name of Maine began with James Sullivan's 1795 "History of the District of Maine." He made the unsubstantiated claim that the Province of Maine was a compliment to the queen of Charles I, Henrietta Maria, who once "owned" the Province of Maine in France. Maine historians quoted this until the 1845 biography of that queen by Agnes Strickland [18] established that she had no connection to the province further, King Charles I married Henrietta Maria in 1625, three years after the name Maine first appeared on the charter. [19] A new theory put forward by Carol B. Smith Fisher in 2002 postulated that Sir Ferdinando Gorges chose the name in 1622 to honor the village where his ancestors first lived in England, rather than the province in France. "MAINE" appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 in reference to the county of Dorset, which is today Broadmayne, just southeast of Dorchester. [19] [20]

The view generally held among British place name scholars is that Mayne in Dorset is Brythonic, corresponding to modern Welsh "maen", plural "main" or "meini". [ citation needed ] Some early spellings are: MAINE 1086, MEINE 1200, MEINES 1204, MAYNE 1236. [21] Today the village is known as Broadmayne, which is primitive Welsh or Brythonic, "main" meaning rock or stone, considered a reference to the many large sarsen stones still present around Little Mayne farm, half a mile northeast of Broadmayne village. [22] [23]

The first known record of the name appears in an August 10, 1622 land charter to Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason, English Royal Navy veterans, who were granted a large tract in present-day Maine that Mason and Gorges "intend to name the Province of Maine". Mason had served with the Royal Navy in the Orkney Islands, where the chief island is called Mainland, a possible name derivation for these English sailors. [13] In 1623, the English naval captain Christopher Levett, exploring the New England coast, wrote: "The first place I set my foote upon in New England was the Isle of Shoals, being Ilands [sic] in the sea, above two Leagues from the Mayne." [24] Initially, several tracts along the coast of New England were referred to as Main or Maine (cf. the Spanish Main). A reconfirmed and enhanced April 3, 1639 charter, from England's King Charles I, gave Sir Ferdinando Gorges increased powers over his new province and stated that it "shall forever hereafter, be called and named the PROVINCE OR COUNTIE OF MAINE, and not by any other name or names whatsoever . " [19] [25] Maine is the only U.S. state whose name has only one syllable. [26] [27]

The original inhabitants of the territory that is now Maine were Algonquian-speaking Wabanaki peoples, including the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Penobscot, Androscoggin, and Kennebec. During the later King Philip's War, many of these peoples would merge in one form or another to become the Wabanaki Confederacy, aiding the Wampanoag of Massachusetts & the Mahican of New York. Afterwards, many of these people were driven from their natural territories, but most of Maine's tribes continued, unchanged, until the American Revolution. Before this point, however, most of these people were considered separate nations. Many had adapted to living in permanent, Iroquois-inspired settlements, while those along the coast tended to be semi-nomadic—traveling from settlement to settlement on a yearly cycle. They would usually winter inland & head to the coasts by summer. [28] [29]

European contact with what is now called Maine may have started around 1200 CE when Norwegians are believed to have interacted with the native Penobscot in present-day Hancock County, most likely through trade. If confirmed, this would make Maine the site of the earliest European landfall in the entire US. About 200 years earlier, from the settlements in Iceland and Greenland, Norwegians first identified America and attempted to settle areas such as Newfoundland, but failed to establish a permanent settlement. Archeological evidence suggests that Norwegians in Greenland returned to North America for several centuries after the initial discovery to trade and collect timber, with the most relevant evidence being the Maine Penny, an 11th-century Norwegian coin found at a Native American dig site in 1954. [30]

The first European confirmed settlement in modern-day Maine was in 1604 on Saint Croix Island, led by French explorer Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons. His party included Samuel de Champlain, noted as an explorer. The French named the entire area Acadia, including the portion that later became the state of Maine. The Plymouth Company established the first English settlement in Maine at the Popham Colony in 1607, the same year as the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. The Popham colonists returned to Britain after 14 months. [31]

The French established two Jesuit missions: one on Penobscot Bay in 1609, and the other on Mount Desert Island in 1613. The same year, Claude de La Tour established Castine. In 1625, Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour erected Fort Pentagouet to protect Castine. The coastal areas of eastern Maine first became the Province of Maine in a 1622 land patent. The part of western Maine north of the Kennebec River was more sparsely settled and was known in the 17th century as the Territory of Sagadahock. A second settlement was attempted in 1623 by English explorer and naval Captain Christopher Levett at a place called York, where he had been granted 6,000 acres (24 km 2 ) by King Charles I of England. [32] It also failed.

Central Maine was formerly inhabited by the Androscoggin tribe of the Abenaki nation, also known as Arosaguntacook. They were driven out of the area in 1690 during King William's War. They were relocated to St. Francis, Canada, which was destroyed by Rogers' Rangers in 1759, and is now Odanak. The other Abenaki tribes suffered several severe defeats, particularly during Dummer's War, with the capture of Norridgewock in 1724 and the defeat of the Pequawket in 1725, which significantly reduced their numbers. They finally withdrew to Canada, where they were settled at Bécancour and Sillery, and later at St. Francis, along with other refugee tribes from the south. [33]

The province within its current boundaries became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1652. Maine was much fought over by the French, English, and allied natives during the 17th and 18th centuries, who conducted raids against each other, taking captives for ransom or, in some cases, adoption by Native American tribes. A notable example was the early 1692 Abenaki raid on York, where about 100 English settlers were killed and another estimated 80 taken hostage. [34] The Abenaki took captives taken during raids of Massachusetts in Queen Anne's War of the early 1700s to Kahnewake, a Catholic Mohawk village near Montreal, where some were adopted and others ransomed. [35] [36]

After the British defeated the French in Acadia in the 1740s, the territory from the Penobscot River east fell under the nominal authority of the Province of Nova Scotia, and together with present-day New Brunswick formed the Nova Scotia county of Sunbury, with its court of general sessions at Campobello. American and British forces contended for Maine's territory during the American Revolution and the War of 1812, with the British occupying eastern Maine in both conflicts via the Colony of New Ireland. [37] [38] The territory of Maine was confirmed as part of Massachusetts when the United States was formed following the Treaty of Paris ending the revolution, although the final border with British North America was not established until the Webster–Ashburton Treaty of 1842.

Maine was physically separate from the rest of Massachusetts. Long-standing disagreements over land speculation and settlements led to Maine residents and their allies in Massachusetts proper forcing an 1807 vote in the Massachusetts Assembly on permitting Maine to secede the vote failed. Secessionist sentiment in Maine was stoked during the War of 1812 when Massachusetts pro-British merchants opposed the war and refused to defend Maine from British invaders. In 1819, Massachusetts agreed to permit secession, sanctioned by voters of the rapidly growing region the following year.

Statehood and Missouri Compromise Edit

Formal secession from Massachusetts and admission of Maine as the 23rd state occurred on March 15, 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise, which geographically limited the spread of slavery and enabled the admission to statehood of Missouri the following year, keeping a balance between slave and free states. [39] [40] [41]

Maine's original state capital was Portland, Maine's largest city, until it was moved to the more central Augusta in 1832. The principal office of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court remains in Portland.


The Maine House consists of 151 individuals, (80 Democrats, 66 Republicans, 4 Independents, 1 Libertarian ). and currently 0 Vacancy). Plus seats for three nonvoting members representing the Penobscot Nation, the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. Each House member is elected to a two-year term and represents a district which has approximately 8,797 people as of the 2010 census. Their occupations range from teachers to lawyers to health care professionals. They all have one thing in common – they have given up part of their private lives to serve the people of Maine in the Legislature.


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How the Louisiana Purchase Changed the World

UNDERSTANDABLY, Pierre Clément de Laussat was saddened by this unexpected turn of events. Having arrived in New Orleans from Paris with his wife and three daughters just nine months earlier, in March 1803, the cultivated, worldly French functionary had expected to reign for six or eight years as colonial prefect over the vast territory of Louisiana, which was to be France’s North American empire. The prospect had been all the more pleasing because the territory’s capital, New Orleans, he had noted with approval, was a city with “a great deal of social life, elegance and goodbreeding.” He also had liked the fact that the city had “all sorts of masters—dancing, music, art, and fencing,” and that even though there were “no book shops or libraries,” books could be ordered from France.

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But almost before Laussat had learned to appreciate a good gumbo and the relaxed Creole pace of life, Napoléon Bonaparte had abruptly decided to sell the territory to the United States. This left Laussat with little to do but officiate when, on a sunny December 20, 1803, the French tricolor was slowly lowered in New Orleans’ main square, the Placed’Armes, and the American flag was raised. After William C.C. Claiborne and Gen. James Wilkinson, the new commissioners of the territory, officially took possession of it in the name of the United States, assuring all residents that their property, rights and religion would be respected, celebratory salvos boomed from the forts around the city. Americans cried “Huzzah!” and waved their hats, while French and Spanish residents sulked in glum silence. Laussat, standing on the balcony of the town hall, burst into tears.

The Louisiana Purchase, made 200 years ago this month, nearly doubled the size of the United States. By any measure, it was one of the most colossal land transactions in history, involving an area larger than today’s France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Holland, Switzerland and the British Isles combined. All or parts of 15 Western states would eventually be carved from its nearly 830,000 square miles, which stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada, and from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. And the price, $15 million, or about four cents an acre, was a breathtaking bargain. “Let the Land rejoice,” Gen. Horatio Gates, a prominent New York state legislator, told President Thomas Jefferson when details of the deal reached Washington, D.C. “For you have bought Louisiana for a song.”

Rich in gold, silver and other ores, as well as huge forestsand endless lands for grazing and farming, the new acquisition would make America immensely wealthy. Or, as Jeffersonput it in his usual understated way, “The fertility of thecountry, its climate and extent, promise in due season importantaids to our treasury, an ample provision for our posterity,and a wide-spread field for the blessings of freedom.”

American historians today are more outspoken in their enthusiasm for the acquisition. “With the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, this is one of the threethings that created the modern United States,” says Douglas Brinkley, director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies in New Orleans and coauthor with the late Stephen E. Ambrose of The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation. Charles A. Cerami, author of Jefferson’s Great Gamble, agrees. “If we had not made this purchase, it would have pinched off the possibility of our becoming a continental power,” he says. “That, in turn, would have meant our ideas on freedom and democracy would have carried less weight with the rest of the world. This was the key to our international influence.”

The bicentennial is being celebrated with yearlong activities in many of the states fashioned from the territory. But the focal point of the celebrations is Louisiana itself. The most ambitious event opens this month at the New Orleans Museum of Art. “Jefferson’s America & Napoléon’s France” (April 12-August 31), an unprecedented exhibition of paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, memorabilia and rare documents, presents a dazzling look at the arts and leading figures of the two countries at this pivotal time in history. “What we wanted to do was enrich people’s understanding of the significanceof this moment,” says Gail Feigenbaum, lead curator of the show. “It’s about more than just a humdinger of a real estate deal. What kind of world were Jefferson and Napoléon living and working in? We also show that our political and cultural relationship with France was extraordinarily rich at the time, a spirited interchange that altered the shape of the modern world.”

The “Louisiana territory” was born on April 9, 1682, when the French explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur (Lord) de La Salle, erected a cross and column near the mouth of the Mississippi and solemnly read a declaration to a group of bemused Indians. He took possession of the whole Mississippi River basin, he avowed, in the name of “the most high, mighty, invincible and victorious Prince, Louis the Great, by Grace of God king of France and Navarre, 14th of that name.” And it was in honor of Louis XIV that he named the land Louisiana.

In 1718, French explorer Jean-Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, founded a settlement near the site of La Salle’s proclamation, and named it la Nouvelle Orléans for Philippe, Duke of Orléans and Regent of France. By the time of the Louisiana Purchase, its population of whites, slaves of African origin and “free persons of color” was about 8,000. A picturesque assemblage of French and Spanish colonial architecture and Creole cottages, New Orleans boasted a thriving economy based largely on agricultural exports.

For more than a century after La Salle took possession of it, the Louisiana Territory, with its scattered French, Spanish, Acadian and German settlements, along with those of Native Americans and American-born frontiersmen, was traded among European royalty at their whim. The French were fascinated by America—which they often symbolized in paintings and drawings as a befeathered Noble Savage standing beside an alligator—but they could not decide whether it was a new Eden or, as the naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon declared, a primitive place fit only for degenerate life-forms. But the official view was summed up by Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac, whom Louis XIV named governor of the territory in 1710: “The people are aheap of the dregs of Canada,” he sniffed in a 42-page report to the king written soon after he arrived. The soldiers there were untrained and undisciplined, he lamented, and the whole colony was “not worth a straw at the present time.” Concluding that the area was valueless, Louis XV gave the territory to his Bourbon cousin Charles III of Spain in 1763. But in 1800, the region again changed hands, when Napoléon negotiated the clandestine Treaty of San Ildefonso with Spain’s Charles IV. The treaty called for the return of the vast territory to France in exchange for the small kingdom of Etruria in northern Italy, which Charles wanted for his daughter Louisetta.

When Jefferson heard rumors of Napoléon’s secret deal, he immediately saw the threat to America’s Western settlements and its vital outlet to the Gulf of Mexico. If the deal was allowed to stand, he declared, “it would be impossible that France and the United States can continue long as friends.” Relations had been relaxed with Spain while it held New Orleans, but Jefferson suspected that Napoléon wanted to close the Mississippi to American use. This must have been a wrenching moment for Jefferson, who had long been a Francophile. Twelve years before, he had returned from a five-year stint as American minister to Paris, shipping home 86 cases of furnishings and books he had picked up there.

The crunch came for Jefferson in October 1802. Spain’s King Charles IV finally got around to signing the royal decree officially transferring the territory to France, and on October 16, the Spanish administrator in New Orleans, Juan Ventura Morales, who had agreed to administer the colony until his French replacement, Laussat, could arrive, arbitrarily ended the American right to deposit cargo in the city duty-free. He argued that the three-year term of the 1795 treaty that had granted America this right and free passage through Spanish territory on the Mississippi had expired. Morales’ proclamation meant that American merchandise could no longer be stored in New Orleans warehouses. As a result, trappers’ pelts, agricultural produce and finished goods risked exposure and theft on open wharfs while awaiting shipment to the East Coast and beyond. The entire economy of America’s Western territories was in jeopardy. “The difficulties and risks . . . are incalculable,” warned the U.S. vice-consul in New Orleans, Williams E. Hulings, in a dispatch to Secretary of State James Madison.

As Jefferson had written in April 1802 to the U.S. minister in Paris, Robert R. Livingston, it was crucial that the port of New Orleans remain open and free for American commerce, particularly the goods coming down the Mississippi River. “There is on the globe one single spot,” Jefferson wrote, “the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans, through which the produce of three-eighths of our territory must pass to market.” Jefferson’s concern was more than commercial. “He had a vision of America as an empire of liberty,” says Douglas Brinkley. “And he saw the Mississippi River not as the western edge of the country, but as the great spine that would hold the continent together.”

As it was, frontiersmen, infuriated by the abrogation of the right of deposit of their goods, threatened to seize New Orleans by force. The idea was taken up by lawmakers such as Senator James Ross of Pennsylvania, who drafted a resolution calling on Jefferson to form a 50,000-man army to take the city. The press joined the fray. The United States had the right, thundered the New York Evening Post, “to regulate the future destiny of North America,” while the Charleston Courier advocated “taking possession of the port . . . by force of arms.” As Secretary of State James Madison explained, “The Mississippi is to them everything. It is the Hudson, the Delaware, the Potomac, and all the navigable rivers of the Atlantic States, formed into one stream.”

With Congress and a vociferous press calling for action, Jefferson faced the nation’s most serious crisis since the American Revolution. “Peace is our passion,” he declared, and expressed the concern that hotheaded members of the opposition Federalist Party might “force us into war.” He had already instructed Livingston in early 1802 to approach Napoléon’s foreign minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, to try to prevent the cession of the territory to France, if this had not already occurred, or, if the deal was done, to try to purchase New Orleans. In his initial meeting with Napoléon after taking up his Paris post in 1801, Livingston had been warned about Old World ways. “You have come to a very corrupt world,” Napoléon told him frankly, adding roguishly that Talleyrand was the right man to explain what he meant by corruption.

A wily political survivor who held high offices under the French Revolution, and later under Napoléon’s empire and the restored Bourbon monarchy, Talleyrand had spent the years 1792 to 1794 in exile in America after being denounced by the revolutionary National Convention, and had conceived a virulent contempt for Americans. “Refinement,” he declared, “does not exist” in the United States. As Napoléon’s foreign minister, Talleyrand customarily demanded outrageous bribes for diplomatic results. Despite a clubfoot and what contemporaries called his “dead eyes,” he could be charming and witty when he wanted—which helped camouflage his basic negotiating tactic of delay. “The lack of instructions and the necessity of consulting one’s government are always legitimate excuses in order to obtain delays in political affairs,” he once wrote. When Livingston tried to discuss the territory, Talleyrand simply denied that there was any treaty between France and Spain. “There never was a government in which less could be done by negotiation than here,” a frustrated Livingston wrote to Madison on September 1, 1802. “There is no people, no legislature, no counselors. One man is everything.”

But Livingston, although an inexperienced diplomat, tried to keep himself informed about the country to which he was ambassador. In March 1802, he warned Madison that France intended to “have a leading interest in the politics of our western country” and was preparing to send 5,000 to 7,000 troops from its Caribbean colony of Saint Domingue (now Haiti) to occupy New Orleans. But Napoléon’s troops in Saint Domingue were being decimated by a revolution and an outbreak of yellow fever. In June, Napoléon ordered Gen. Claude Victor to set out for New Orleans from the French controlled Netherlands. But by the time Victor assembled enough men and ships in January 1803, ice blocked the Dutchport, making it impossible for him to set sail.

That same month Jefferson asked James Monroe, a former member of Congress and former governor of Virginia, to join Livingston in Paris as minister extraordinary with discretionary powers to spend $9,375,000 to secure New Orleans and parts of the Floridas (to consolidate the U.S. positionin the southeastern part of the continent). In financial straits at the time, Monroe sold his china and furniture to raise travel funds, asked a neighbor to manage his properties, and sailed for France on March 8, 1803, with Jefferson’s parting admonition ringing in his ears: “The future destinies of this republic” depended on his success.

By the time Monroe arrived in Paris on April 12, the situation had, unknown to him, radically altered: Napoléon had suddenly decided to sell the entire Louisiana Territory to the United States. He had always seen Saint Domingue, with a population of more than 500,000, producing enough sugar, coffee, indigo, cotton and cocoa to fill some 700 ships a year, as France’s most important holding in the Western Hemisphere. The Louisiana Territory, in Napoléon’s view, was useful mainly as a granary for Saint Domingue. With the colony in danger of being lost, the territory was less useful. Then, too, Napoléon was gearing up for another campaign against Britain and needed funds for that.

Napoléon’s brothers Joseph and Lucien had gone to see him at the Tuileries Palace on April 7, determined to convince him not to sell the territory. For one thing, they considered it foolish to voluntarily give up an important French holding on the American continent. For another, Britain had unofficially offered Joseph a bribe of 𧴜,000 to persuade Napoléon not to let the Americans have Louisiana. But Napoléon’s mind was already made up. The First Consul happened to be sitting in his bath when his brothers arrived. “Gentlemen,” he announced, “think what you please about it. I have decided to sell Louisiana to the Americans.” To make his point to his astonished brothers, Napoléon abruptly stood up, then dropped back into the tub, drenching Joseph. A manservant slumped to the floor in a faint.

French historians point out that Napoléon had several reasons for this decision. “He probably concluded that, following American independence, France couldn’t hope to maintain a colony on the American continent,” says Jean Tulard, one of France’s foremost Napoléon scholars. “French policy makers had felt for some time that France’s possessions in the Antilles would inevitably be ‘contaminated’ by America’s idea of freedom and would eventually take their own independence. By the sale, Napoléon hoped to create a huge country in the Western Hemisphere to serve as a counterweight to Britain and maybe make trouble for it.”

On April 11, when Livingston called on Talleyrand for what he thought was yet another futile attempt to deal, the foreign minister, after the de rigueur small talk, suddenly asked whether the United States would perchance wish to buy the whole of the Louisiana Territory. In fact, Talleyrand was intruding on a deal that Napoléon had assigned to the French finance minister, François de Barbé-Marbois. The latter knew America well, having spent some years in Philadelphia in the late 1700s as French ambassador to the United States, where he got to know Washington, Jefferson, Livingston and Monroe. Barbé-Marbois received his orders on April 11, 1803, when Napoléon summoned him. “I renounce Louisiana,” Napoléon told him. “It is not only New Orleans that I will cede, it is the whole colony without reservation. I renounce it with the greatest regret. . . . I require a great deal of money for this war [with Britain].”

Thierry Lentz, a Napoléon historian and director of the Fondation Napoléon in Paris, contends that, for Napoléon, “It was basically just a big real estate deal. He was in a hurry to get some money for the depleted French treasury, although the relatively modest price shows that he was had in that deal. But he did manage to sell something that he didn’t really have any control over—there were few French settlers and no French administration over the territory—except on paper.” As for Jefferson, notes historian Cerami, “he actually wasn’t out to make this big a purchase. The whole thing came as a total surprise to him and his negotiating team in Paris, because it was, after all, Napoléon’s idea, not his.”

Showing up unexpectedly at the dinner party Livingston gave on April 12 for Monroe’s arrival, Barbé-Marbois discreetly asked Livingston to meet him later that night at the treasury office. There he confirmed Napoléon’s desire to sell the territory for $22,500,000. Livingston replied that he“would be ready to purchase provided the sum was reduced to reasonable limits.” Then he rushed home and worked until 3 a.m. writing a memorandum to Secretary of State Madison, concluding: “We shall do all we can to cheapen the purchase but my present sentiment is that we shall buy.”

On April 15, Monroe and Livingston proposed $8 million.

At this, Barbé-Marbois pretended Napoléon had lost interest. But by April 27, he was saying that $15 million was as low as Napoléon would go. Though the Americans then countered with $12.7 million, the deal was struck for $15 million on April 29. The treaty was signed by Barbé-Marbois, Livingston and Monroe on May 2 and backdated to April 30. Although the purchase was undeniably a bargain, the price was still more than the young U.S. treasury could afford. But the resourceful Barbé-Marbois had an answer for that too. He had contacts at Britain’s Baring & Co. Bank, which agreed, along with several other banks, to make the actual purchase and pay Napoléon cash. The bank then turned over ownership of the Louisiana Territory to the United States in return for bonds, which were repaid over 15 years at 6 percent interest, making the final purchase price around $27 million. Neither Livingston nor Monroe had been authorized to buy all of the territory, or to spend $15 million—transatlantic mail took weeks, sometimes months, each way, so they had no time to request and receive approval of the deal from Washington. But an elated Livingston was aware that nearly doubling the size of America would make it a major player on the world scene one day, and he permitted himself some verbal euphoria: “We have lived long, but this is the noblest work of our whole lives,” he said. “From this day the United States take their place among the powers of the first rank.”

It wasn’t until July 3 that news of the purchase reached U.S. shores, just in time for Americans to celebrate it on Independence Day. A Washington newspaper, the National Intelligencer, reflecting how most citizens felt, referred to the“widespread joy of millions at an event which history will record among the most splendid in our annals.” Though we have no historical evidence of how Jefferson felt about the purchase, notes Cerami, reports from those in his circle like Monroe refer to the president’s “great pleasure,” despite his fear that the deal had gone beyond his constitutional powers. Not all Americans agreed, however. The Boston Columbian Centinel editorialized, “We are to give money of which we have too little for land of which we already have too much.” And Congressman Joseph Quincy of Massachusetts so opposed the deal that he favored secession by the Northeastern states, “amicably if they can violently if they must.”

The favorable majority, however, easily prevailed and New England remained in the Union. As for the ever-succinct Thomas Jefferson, he wasted little time on rhetoric. “The enlightened government of France saw, with just discernment,” he told Congress, with typical tact, on October 17, 1803, “the importance to both nations of such liberal arrangements as might best and permanently promote the peace, friendship, and interests of both.” But, excited by the commercial opportunities in the West, Jefferson, even before official notice of the treaty reached him, had already dispatched Meriwether Lewis to lead an expedition to explore the territory and the lands beyond. All the way to the Pacific.


“We have tried to capture the suspense and fascination of a story whose outcome is known, yet was not foreordained,” says Gail Feigenbaum, curator of the Jefferson-Napoléon show on view in New Orleans April 12 to August 31, “and to tell it through a rich variety of objects.” The variety includes three important documents: a copy of the treaty, which bears Jefferson’s signature a document covering payment of claims by American citizens against France, signed by Napoléon and the official report of transfer of the Louisiana Territory signed by a bereaved prefect, Pierre de Laussat. The exhibition points up how intertwined the two nations were at the time. A seascape (see p. 3) portrays the Marquis de Lafayette’s ship La Victoire setting sail to carry him across the Atlantic in 1777 to fight in the American Revolution. (There is also a portrait of the marquis himself and a 1784 painting by French artist Jean Suau, Allegory of France Liberating America.) A mahogany and gilded bronze swan bed that belonged to the famous French beauty Juliette Récamier is also on display. Fashion-conscious American ladies reportedly imitated Récamier’s attire, but not her custom of receiving visitors in her bedroom. And John Trumbull’s huge painting The Signing of the Declaration of Independence documents the historic American event that so greatly impressed and influenced French revolutionary thinkers. It hangs not far from a color engraving of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, which was composed in 1789 by Lafayette with the advice of his American friend Thomas Jefferson.

Robert Mugabe: democracy to dictatorship

In 1980, Robert Mugabe was democratically elected to be the president of Zimbabwe. When a ruler is elected democratically, it's usually difficult to imagine the word dictator next to their name just a few years later. What makes that concept even more difficult to believe is Mugabe has been reelected several times and still maintains his station as ruler of his country. However, he has edged himself into the category of tyrant with his policies, both attempted and actualized, and with violent war efforts that have killed tens of thousands.

In the year 2000, for instance, Mugabe tried to expand his presidential power to absolute power by altering the Zimbabwean constitution. He also famously had 20,000–30,000 Ndebele people killed as part of a campaign to destroy any remaining opposition to Zimbabwean independence. As The Independent puts it, "He interfered in the economy, and, when the money ran out, tried to pay for his rash promises to 'war veterans' (some born after the liberation struggle) by stealing white farmers' land." All of these facts certainly don't seem like the kind of behavior one would expect from a democratic president, but these events did indeed happen. As a result, Mugabe's rule serves to point out perhaps one of the most dangerous characteristics of a dictator—their ability to turn democratic power into totalitarian power and abuse their own and other countries for personal purposes.