Happy birthday, Maine!  You look pretty good for being 199 years old.

On March 15th, 1820, a 35,000 square mile chunk of land broke away from Massachusetts to become the state of Maine!

But, why did we go from being part of MA (as the District of Maine) to being our own state?

The answer: slavery

According to Wikipedia, Maine's change of status is due to the Missouri Compromise.  With Missouri entering the Union as a "slave" state, a "non-slave" state was needed to balance of power between the North and the South.

Not surprisingly, the Missouri Compromise was controversial at the time.  It left people feeling as through our country was becoming divided.  That controversy lead to several legal battles (1854's Kansas-Nebraska Act and 1857's Dred Scott v. Sandford) and, eventually, the Civil War, which brought about the abolishing of slavery.

Check out these less dark Maine facts: