Aroostook War was an undeclared, bloodless "war"
that occurred in 1839. The peace treaty that ended the American
Revolution in 1783 had not satisfactorily determined the boundary
between New Brunswick and what is now Maine. The boundary
dispute worsened after Maine gained statehood (1820) and,
disregarding British claims, began granting land to settlers
in the valley of the Aroostook River. The king of the Netherlands
was asked to arbitrate the dispute, but the U.S. Senate rejected
his award in 1832, although the British accepted it.
Canadian lumberjacks entered the Aroostook region
to cut timber during the winter of 1838-1839, and in February
they seized the American land agent who had been dispatched
to expel them. The "war" was now under way. Maine
and New Brunswick called out their militiamen, and the U.S.
Congress, at the instigation of Maine, authorized a force
of 50,000 men and appropriated $10 million to meet the emergency.
Maine actually sent 10,000 troops to the disputed area. U.S.
President Martin Van Buren dispatched General Winfield Scott
to the "war" zone, and Scott arranged an agreement
(March 1839) between officials of Maine and New Brunswick
that averted actual fighting. Britain agreed to refer the
dispute to a boundary commission, and in 1842 the Webster-Ashburton
Treaty settled the matter.
The compromise reached by Daniel Webster and
1st Baron Ashburton (Alexander Baring) awarded 7,015 square
miles to the United States and 5,012 to Great Britain. Retention
by the British of the northern area assured them of year-round
overland military communications with Montreal. Webster used
a map, said to have been marked with a red line by Benjamin
Franklin at Paris in 1782, in persuading Maine and Massachusetts
to accept the agreement. Britain agreed to pay these states
$150,000 each, while the United States agreed to reimburse
Britain for expenses incurred defending the area against encroachment.
See the lyrics to the Arrostook