Today, the Maine Commemorative Silver Half Dollar tells the tale – at least in part – of Maine’s early days and the various names associated with the area.
On August 10, 1622, the King granted a charter for “all that pat of the main land in New-England lying upon the sea-coast betwixt ye rivers of Merrimack and Sagadahock, and to the furthest heads of the said rivers, etc.”
Later, the charter noted, “the said Sr. Ferdinando Gorges and Capt. John Mason, with the consent of ye President and Councill, intend to name The Province of Maine.”
In 1629, the two men divided the area. For his section, Mason named it “New Hampshire.”
The remaining area under Gorges became known as Laconia, at first, then as New Somerset.
However, not liking those names, King Charles included in the a 1639 charter, “And Wee Doe name ordeyne and appoynt that the porcon of the Mayne Lande and Premises aforesaide shall forever hereafter bee called The Province or Countie of Mayne and not by any other name or name whatsoever” etc.
In 1664 and 1674, the King produced further grants to his “dearest brother James Duke of Yorke” for “all that part of the maine land of New England beginning at a certain place” etc.
Fast forwarding more than a century, on a Monday afternoon in October 1819, men chosen from the area met in a convention to “select a name for the new State and form a Constitution.”
During the name discussion, “Columbus” and “Lygonia” became popular for the yet-to-be-formed state.
One Maine statesman, John Holmes, made a motion to include the word “Maine” for the new State’s name in the proposed Constitution.
His motioned carried in the convention.
In Maine.gov’s historical comments, they note that the origin of the word “Maine” remains contested.
Some believe it relates to “Broadmayne” near where the Gorges family lived, which was known as Maine or Meine.
Others attribute the name to the practical nautical term of “the main” or “Main Land.”
The 1920 Maine Centennial Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers the early days and the convention that named the state.