Maine History Timeline
Selected Events in Maine History: 1950–2005



  • Sen. Margaret Chase Smith delivers her Declaration of Conscience speech, denouncing the tactics of the House Committee on Un–American Activities and Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Chairman Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin


  • Maine's two recognized Indian tribes (Passamaquoddy and Penobscot) get the right to vote in federal elections, otherwise granted to men with the adoption of the Constitution in 1789 and to women in 1920. Maine is the last state to allow recognized tribes to vote.
  • Edmund S. Muskie (1914–1996) of Rumford is elected governor, the first Democrat elected governor in more than 20 years. He later became a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State


  • Maine Legislature passes a bill banning discrimination in public accommodations based on race, religion and ancestry


  • Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Indians extended the right to vote in state elections.


  • Maine Human Rights Commission formed to enforce Maine Human Rights Act that banned discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, age and religion. Sex (gender) was added in 1973
  • Maine Historic Preservation Commission created, in reaction in part to demolition of historic structures in the 1960s


  • The Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation file lawsuit claiming 12.5 million acres of land granted in earlier treaties, but not ratified by Congress
  • Gerald E. Talbot (1931– ) of Portland is first acknowledged African-American elected to the state Legislature


  • Maine recognizes Micmac and Maliseet Indians as official tribes, issues free hunting and fishing licenses to all tribal members, acknowledging the right of all indigenous people to hunt and fish


  • Maine elects James B. Longley (1924–1980) of Lewiston as the 67th governor of Maine and the first Independent elected to that office


  • The nation's final log drive is held on the Kennebec River. Increased dams, hydroelectric power and recreational use all competed for space on Maine's waterways, and environmental damage from the drives led to a 1971 law prohibiting log drives on Maine rivers after 1976


  • President Jimmy Carter signs Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act. Indians give up rights to millions of acres of Maine land they claimed in exchange for trust fund and money to buy 300,000 acres of State–owned land spread across different regions of Maine. Maliseet tribe receives federal recognition, and is included with Penobscot and Passamaquoddy people. In 1991, Micmacs, excluded in 1980, get federal recognition and $900,000 to buy land


  • Eleven–year–old Samantha Smith (1972–1985) of Manchester writes to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov about world peace. On his invitation, she visits the Soviet Union. She is killed in a plane crash in 1985


  • Joan Benoit (1957– ) of Cape Elizabeth wins the first Olympic Games women's marathon


  • Sen. George Mitchell, a Waterville Democrat (1933– ), is elected U.S. Senate Majority Leader, a post he holds until his retirement from the Senate in 1995


  • Maine Yankee nuclear power plant in Wiscasset, which opened in 1972, closes due to safety concerns and lack of economic viability
  • Republican William Cohen (1940– ) of Bangor, a former Senator, becomes Secretary of Defense for President William Clinton, a Democrat


  • Maine Legislature outlaws all racist or derogatory town names, including place names using "squaw" or "Negro"


  • Maine passes LD 1196 that adds sexual orientation to existing Human Rights Act