FREEPORT, Maine — If the pandemic hadn’t struck, we Mainers would have spent much of this year celebrating our bicentennial — the 200th anniversary of our separation from Massachusetts and our return to political independence after a long and difficult period of colonial rule. But instead of commemorating statehood day on March 15, Maine’s governor declared a state of emergency, and people in the state began locking down.

Survival, once again, took center stage.

Appropriate perhaps, as much of Maine’s history has been tragic, from the pandemic accidentally sparked by the first English explorers — which killed three-quarters of Maine’s indigenous inhabitants in four years — to the post-Civil War economic collapse that some parts of the state have yet to recover from. It’s been a saga of war and betrayal, of clashing empires and ethnic cleansing, a 160-year intracolonial occupation that left the state underdeveloped, undersettled, and cursed with a lasting animosity toward Massachusetts, historically its most important economic partner and source of capital, settlers, tourists, and commerce. Read more