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Webster-Ashburton Treaty

WEBSTER-ASHBURTON TREATY

WEBSTER-ASHBURTON TREATY. The Webster-Ashburton Treaty resolved many disputed issues in British-American relations during the mid-nineteenth century. Of these, boundary disputes were the most prominent. After the War of 1812, the United States complained that Britain still habitually violated American sovereignty. The dispute over the northeastern boundary, between Maine and New Brunswick, Canada, had brought nationals of the two countries to the verge of armed hostility. This was settled by the treaty through what then appeared to be a wise compromise of territorial claims, which provided the present-day boundary line. (It was a concession that knowledge of Benjamin Franklin's Red-Line Map, not made public until 1932, would have made unnecessary, because the boundary had already been drawn.) The treaty also rectified the U.S.-Canada boundary at the head of the Connecticut River, at the north end of Lake Champlain, in the Detroit River, and at the head of Lake Superior. A useful extradition article and another providing for the free navigation of the St. John River were included in the treaty. Exchanges of notes covering the slave trade ensured the United States protection against "officious interference with American vessels" and the protection of "regularly-documented ships" known by the flag they flew.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bourne, Kenneth. Britain and the Balance of Power in North America, 1815–1908. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.

Peterson, Norma L. The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989.

Samuel FlaggBemis/a. g.

See alsoAroostook War ; Canada, Relations with ; Canadian-American Waterways ; Caroline Affair ; Great Britain, Relations with ; Treaties with Foreign Nations .

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Webster-Ashburton Treaty

Webster-Ashburton Treaty, Aug., 1842, agreement concluded by the United States, represented by Secretary of State Daniel Webster, and Great Britain, represented by Alexander Baring, 1st Baron Ashburton. The treaty settled the Northeast Boundary Dispute, which had caused serious conflicts, such as the Aroostook War. Over 7,000 sq mi (18,100 sq km) of the disputed area, including the Aroostook valley, were given to the United States, and several waterways, including the St. Johns River, were opened to free navigation by both countries. The Webster-Ashburton Treaty also settled the disputed position of the U.S.-Canada border in the Great Lakes region. Other clauses provided for cooperation in the suppression of the slave trade and for mutual extradition of criminals. Some disputes between the United States and Britain, notably the one concerning the Oregon boundary, were ignored. The treaty, however, served as a precedent in peaceful settlements of disputes between the two countries.

See H. S. Burrage, Maine in the Northeastern Boundary Dispute (1919) and H. Jones, To the Webster-Ashburton Treaty (1977).

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