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In the U.S. statemarker of Mainemarker, a plantation is a type of minor civil division falling between township (or unorganized territory) and town. The term, as used in this sense in modern times, appears to be exclusive to Maine.

A plantation is essentially a previously unorganized township that the state legislature has granted a limited form of self-government that is similar to, but simpler than, a town. Plantations are typically found in sparsely populated areas.

No other New Englandmarker state currently has an entity equivalent to a plantation. In colonial times, Massachusetts also used the term “plantation” for a community in a pre-town stage of development – in fact, Maine probably originally got the term from Massachusettsmarker, as Maine was once part of Massachusetts – but the term has been out of wide use there since the 18th century. Similarly, the term was used in colonial Rhode Island, and a vestige of the term remains in the official state name, Rhode Island and Providence Plantationsmarker. Massachusetts also once had “districts”, which served much the same purpose. Districts were typically municipalities that had been formed by breaking off from existing towns. They were considered to be incorporated, but lacked the full privileges of a town. Maine and Rhode Island are also known to have made limited use of the district concept. Districts have not been at all common since the first half of the 19th century, and there have not been any districts of this type anywhere in New England in over a century.

See also

Further reading

  • James J. Haag, "A Study of Plantation Government in Maine." Orono, ME: Bureau of Public Administration, University of Maine, 1973.

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