Under Article IV of the Treaty, in the spring of 1843, three Commissioners appointed by the states of Maine and Massachusetts, Philip Eastman, John W. Dana, and Henry W. Cunningham, began visiting those Madawaskans now officially living on the territory of the United States of America. They tabled their report on Christmas Day 1844 along with cadastral maps that confirmed the location of the lots and the identity of their owners. The Acadian Archives at the University of Maine at Fort Kent preserve the original plans.
The settlement of the Fish River and the myth of the Republic
“These [American] emigrants later took refuge, during the most serious troubles, around Fort Kent, built at the junction of the Fish River in 1839 to protect American nationals from the problematic incursions of Canadian troops. Until Fort Kent was built, the American colony of Baker River was the centre of the little republic on British soil.” [Translation] (Thomas Albert, narrating “the troubles on the border,” in his Histoire du Madawaska, p. 201.)
- Despite the deterioration of the original, one can still make out the symbol marking the location of Fort Kent on the left bank of the Fish River.
- With much determination, it is also possible to read the names of the families occupying the lots: an amalgam of surnames of Acadian and Canadian origin and a predominance of American names.
- Today, the campus of the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK, whose origins go back to the Madawaska Training School, founded in 1878) sits on military grounds adjacent to the Fort.
- The original of this scan is shown here in the display case and preserved in the Acadian Archives at UMFK.
A reproduction of a reproduction of a reproduction
The panels of this exhibition show scans of original documents that are preserved in various archive repositories. To overcome the current illegibility of the original maps of the American Commissioners, we relied, as necessary, on clones of the originals made by the State of Maine Land Office at different times. You can bet that these copies are sometimes copies of previous copies.
- This plan of the settlement of Fish River bears the inscription “Copied 4/10/69 by R.B.S.”
- It is curious to note that the symbol marking Fort Kent faces south on the copy whereas it faces north, that is toward “the enemy,” on the original.
- Unlike their British counterparts, American cartographers clearly delineated the border in the middle of the river using a dotted line.