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This Week in Maine's History: Disgust with Missouri compromise

William Pitt Preble’s disgust with the Missouri Compromise as expressed in a letter dated March 9, 1820

PORTLAND, Maine — Many people in Maine did not want the state to gain statehood through the Missouri Compromise. William Pitt Preble was one of the first Justices of the Maine Supreme Court and served as the U.S. Minister to the Netherlands. Preble was a lawyer, judge, diplomat, and businessman. 

Although delighted by the arrival of statehood for Maine, Preble expressed his disgust with the circumstances in which it was eventually achieved: "The chagrin manifested here is beyond anything I have ever seen... And as to those of our representatives who have done so much to embarrass and so little to aid us; may they not be forgotten."

Many people in Maine were unhappy with the Missouri Compromise which admitted Maine into the Union as a free state and Missouri as a slave state. Preble's letter is addressed to William King, the future first governor of Maine.

The Missouri Compromise passed legislation on March 3, 1820; signed by Pres. Monroe on March 6; and Maine entered the Union March 15th.

The Maine Historical Society's exhibit State Of Mind: Becoming Maine which explores how Maine gained its statehood and the people it impacted opens on March 13 and will be open until Jan. 30, 2021. The exhibit is located at 489 Congress Street. 

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