state of Maine, 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.
England 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
Massachusetts, as Maine was once part of Massachusetts – but the
term has been out of wide use there since the 18th century.
the term was used in colonial Rhode Island, and a vestige of the
term remains in the official state name, Rhode Island
and Providence Plantations.
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.
- James J. Haag, "A Study of Plantation Government in Maine."
Orono, ME: Bureau of Public Administration, University of Maine,