Aroostook War

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AROOSTOOK WAR (1838–1839), an undeclared and bloodless war occasioned by the failure of the United States and Great Britain to determine the northeast boundary between New Brunswick and what is now Maine. After Maine became a state in 1820, the Maine legislature, jointly with Massachusetts, made grants to settlers along both branches of the Aroostook River, ignoring British claims to area in Aroostook County. In 1831, the United States and Great Britain tried to compromise on the boundary by submitting the issue to the king of the Netherlands for review. An agreement was reached, but the U.S. Senate rejected the plan in 1832. In January 1839, a posse of Americans entered the disputed area to oust Canadian lumberjacks working in the region. The Canadians arrested the posse's leader, and within two months 10,000 Maine troops were either encamped along the Aroostook River or were on their way there. At the insistence of Maine congressmen, the federal government voted to provide a force of 50,000 men and $10 million in the event of war. To prevent a clash, General Winfield Scott was dispatched to negotiate a truce with the lieutenant governor of New Brunswick. Great Britain, convinced of the seriousness of the situation, agreed to a boundary commission, whose findings were incorporated in the Webster-Ashburton Treaty (1842), which also addressed a number of other disputed boundary issues.


Burrage, Henry S. Maine and the Northeastern Boundary Controversy. Portland, Me.: Printed for the State, 1919.

Corey, Albert B. The Crisis of 1830–1842in Canadian-American Relations. New York: Russell & Russell, 1970.

Scott, Geraldine Todd. Ties of Common Blood: A History of Maine's Northeast Boundary Dispute with Great Britain, 1783–1842. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1992.

ElizabethRing/h. s.

See alsoGreat Britain, Relations with .

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Aroostook War, Feb.–May, 1839, border conflict between the United States and Canada. In 1838, Maine and New Brunswick both claimed territory left undetermined on the U.S.-Canadian border, including the valley of the Aroostook River. Maine farmers were interested in the valley's farmlands, and when New Brunswick sent Canadian lumbermen to do logging there, Maine authorities raised a force to eject them. New Brunswick asked for British regular troops and full-scale fighting seemed imminent, but Gen. Winfield Scott, who had been sent to the area with a small U.S. force, managed to reach an agreement (Mar., 1839) that prevented trouble. The boundary was later settled by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty (1842).

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Aroostook War (1838–39) Dispute over the Maine-New Brunswick boundary. The Aroostook Valley was claimed by both Canada and the USA, and a conflict arose over Canadian lumber operations in the area. In 1839 a contingent of 50 Maine militia men also moved into the valley. War loomed, but General Winfield Scott negotiated a truce, and the dispute was submitted to a commission. It was settled by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty (1842).