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William Widgery Thomas' Commissioner of Immigration certificate, Portland, 1870

William Widgery Thomas' Commissioner of Immigration certificate, Portland, 1870

Item 102763 info
Maine Historical Society

Governor Joshua Chamberlain appointed William Widgery Thomas as Maine’s first—and only—Commissioner of Immigration in March of 1870, after the Maine State Legislature approved a bill to support a Swedish colony.

Less than four months after passing the legislation, Thomas had traveled to Sweden where he recruited 22 men, 11 women, and 18 children, moved them across the Atlantic, and settled them into their town of New Sweden, located in Aroostook County.

Thomas’s commission was disbanded in 1873, after the success of New Sweden was secure. Though he was “Commissioner of Immigration,” Thomas never recruited people from other countries.


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