If you’re from the Northeast, you’ve most probably heard this term before: Masshole. Some clever person coined this expression to describe, most probably, the person from Massachusetts who had just cut them off in their horse and buggy. Since then, it has come to be a term describing anything annoying that comes from the Bay State: their sports fans, their tourists, or their accents. Massachusetts being what it is, most denizens of the state have gleefully adopted the moniker for their own, leaving the rest of us to curse in frustration. While the term is new, the sentiment behind it is not. Especially from Massachusetts’s neighbors. Yeah, we may cheer for their sports teams, but only because it’s all we have.
While most of New England can list off ways Massachusetts has screwed them over in the past (Connecticut’s Charter Oak came to have a charter in it because they had to hide it from imperial-minded Massholes; Rhode Island was founded by religious dissidents fleeing Massachusetts), Maine probably has the most cause to dislike the Bay State (summer traffic on Maine’s roads isn’t even on this list). Without further ado, here are the top three ways Massachusetts has left Maine in the lurch.
- That Time Massachusetts Annexed Maine
So everyone knows Maine used to be a part of Massachusetts. At least, enough of my friends from Massachusetts know this, and remind me as many times as they can. This wasn’t always the case, however. It was founded as the Province of Maine in the early 1600’s, was granted its own Royal charter, and was governed by Sir Fernando Gorges (English, incredibly), who never even set foot in his new land.
The first permanent settlements took shape in southern Maine, away from the frozen tundras and wandering Frenchmen of northern Maine. Unfortunately, this left them even closer to the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who weren’t fond of the idea that their City on a Hill was so close to a bunch of mercantile Anglicans (most settlers in Maine were there to make money, and so were, of course, Anglican).
This was too much for the kill-joy Puritans to take. Throughout the 1640’s and 50’s, the Massachusetts Bay Colony began exerting more and more influence over southern Maine, even going so far as to arrest Anglican ministers in Maine and haul them off to Boston jails. Because the leadership of the Province of Maine spent most of its time in England lobbying for land rights and the patent to L.L. Bean, towns in southern Maine began to see the government in Boston as the only legitimate power in the region. Parades of Massachusetts Militia through these towns assisted this belief. In 1658, the southern towns voted to join the Massachusetts Bay Colony, at the sly suggestion of the leadership in Boston. The plebiscite was made even more fair and impartial by the presence of troops from Massachusetts. Falmouth (now Portland) was the last town to hold out, sending back missives to England demanding to know, “what the hell is going on over there,” or something to that effect.
In fact, Massachusetts’ actions were entirely illegal; a Royal court overturned their shenanigans in 1676. But by then, Sir Gorges had died, and his relatives had little interest in his overseas speculations. So the Massachusetts Bay Colony did what the Patriots have done forever: cheated. They bought Maine’s charter outright, settling things for once and for all. Maine was now under Puritan sway, and dependent upon Boston for help.
2. That Time Massachusetts Abandoned Maine to the French
So it was 1689, and the colonies were full of wars with American Indians, like ya do. France and England fought proxy battles in the North American forests, using various American Indian nations as allies. Things got nasty when Massachusetts’ governor Edmund Andros ordered the burning of the house of the French nobleman, the Baron de la Castin, in central Maine.
Going off the ancient law that you don’t burn a dude’s house when he’s not home, Castin was legitimately pissed off and vowed revenge. He sent a force of about 400 French and Indian warriors to pay a visit to Falmouth, Maine, and by visit, I mean massacre. News of this got around, and Massachusetts, which had the responsibility for protecting Maine, sent some militia up under the command of certified badass Benjamin Church. Church and his men got there just in time to fight a knock-down drag-out fight with the French and Indians, which saved the town.
Then politics happened, and the English, tired of having a Catholic king, kicked him to the curb and hauled in some Dutch Protestants to be monarchs. In all the resulting hubbub, Andros, who was pretty solid on regional security, got his ass hauled off to England to stand trial for treason, as always happens when you get a new monarch. The Puritans in Boston were pretty happy about this, since Andros had the gall to use one of their meetinghouses to hold Anglican services. Consequently, regional security went to hell.
Baron Castin noticed this and in 1690 sent another force of French and Indians to play with Maine colonial settlements. Again, word got out, and Maine was like, “Yo, Mass, a little help?” And Massachusetts was all, “Nah, brah, busy with religious oppression.”
Sure enough, the French and Indians arrived in Falmouth, and, after a three day siege of Fort Loyall (the two “L’s” made it extra old timey), convinced the garrison of the fort (militia, with all the town’s women and children) to surrender in return for safe passage. In this case, safe passage meant “killing all but twelve of you.”
Over 200 people were killed and everyone else in Maine said, “Eff this” and went to visit relatives for a few years. Maine’s ridiculously low population (we’ve barely got over a million people up here) can be traced back to colonial wars and depopulation. And a winter that will make your face fall off.
3. That Time Massachusetts Told the President to Screw Off
By 1812, Maine was like that 17 year old living at home: pretty frustrated with mom and dad and really ready to get their own place. But, Massachusetts still had control. Then the War of 1812 happened, and most of New England wasn’t its biggest fan. So much so that they contemplated secession in 1814. Which just happened to be the year that the British decided to stop being nice to New England and maybe do some coastal plundering.
Maine seemed to be a good spot for that, and so a bunch of pissed-off British regulars, fresh from trouncing Napoleon on the Peninsula, descended on northern Maine in 1814. Castine, then Hampden, and then Bangor fell to the redcoats, as southern Maine readied itself for the inevitable invasion.
President Madison gave a direct order to Massachusetts governor Caleb Strong to go give his District of Maine some help. Strong had a beer and took a nap, instead.
By this time, Maine was like, “Okay, screw this, we done.” They raised nearly 10,000 militia and waited for the British to come, to kick their asses back across the ocean. The British never came, however, deciding instead to leave and go party in New Orleans, which ended…poorly.
But that was the last straw for Maine, who said, “We out,” and filed for statehood, which it got it in 1820. So while we tolerate the Massholes taking up our highways in the summertime, we still aren’t quite over 17th and 18th centuries yet. Damn Massholes.
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