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Why was St.Francis river chosen as border?

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PostPosted: 03 Feb 2005 09:45    Post subject: Why was St.Francis river chosen as border? Reply with quote

A query from the guestbook:

Would like more information on why the St John River was not followed but border goes up the St. Francis River instead.

Answer coming soon...
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Joined: 30 Jan 2005
Posts: 109

PostPosted: 03 Feb 2005 10:55    Post subject: Re: Why was St. Francis River chosen as border? Reply with quote

The border that we see now is in large part the result of a decision made by the King of the Netherlands in 1831.

he'd been chosen to arbitrate the border dispute by the US and Britain.

He found it impossible to set a border the way it was described in the 1783 peace treaty.

So he set a border the sort of split the difference.

Since the border was supposed to be the "highlands" separating rivers flowing into St.Lawrence River and Atlantic Ocean, he probably chose the St.Francis rather than the St.John as part of this compromise. The St.Francis is the border up to its source in Lake Pohenegamook, then a straight line that eventually does lead to the highlands that separate Quebec and Maine.

If I find any other information on this question I'll post it here.
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Norman DeMerchant

PostPosted: 13 Feb 2005 12:35    Post subject: St Francis River as border. Reply with quote

I have heard some interesting concepts on why the St Francis River was choosen as the border. A common one in the USA was the "wiley" guides, that accompanied the British surveyors, were sypathetic to the American border claims. They had homemade booze and got the British agents completely drunk so they had no idea where they were. Of course this is more a fancy tale told by Americans. I have seen it used in several sources including a PBS documentary from sevearal years ago, as well as a book "The Masardis Saga" by Paul M. Maureau.

I think that Chip is probably correct in thinking it was a compromise situation. The British could not have a border further east than the modern day Madawaska River because this was the mail route and a military avenue. By designating the St Francis the British would be assured of their most pressing desire (access to Quebec City in the winter months) and the Americans would push the border north towards the St Lawrence.

The British were only inclined to press for anything that would hamper the interests of the Empire as a whole. If the Americans wanted to spill blood over a few square miles of woodland it would be their fault. Therefore a comprimise that reconized British interests was enough to settle the question. You have to wonder if the B. Franklin maps had not been shown to the State of Maine, showing Britian/New Brunswick had strong claims to the diputed territory, would it have resulted in a full scale conflict? Great Britian was not going to lose the north side of the St John River no matter what and the building of forts, plus a large army barracks at Cabano (Fort Ingalls) certainly demostrated this.

The St Francis River was surely a compromise solution.
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