Webster and Ashburton divide land, forests… and families

On August 9, 1842, Daniel Webster, American Secretary of State, and Lord Ashburton, Minister Plenipotentiary of His Britannic Majesty, affixed their respective seals on a Memorandum of Understanding, which terminated the Aroostook Bloodless War. Henceforth, an international boundary would separate the families living on the land located on either side of the St. John River to the west of Grand Falls. The main stakeholders, the residents of the divided territory, were never consulted about their fate.
 
 
Is it the Ashburton-Webster Treaty or the Webster-Ashburton Treaty?
As a general rule, Canadian and British authors – and particularly Thomas Albert in l’Histoire du Madawaska – refer to the Ashburton-Webster Treaty, whereas American authors refer to the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, each favouring the signatory of their own side. In reality, the official title of the treaty contains 47 words (see Illustration 4-2). The posts marking the Canada-U.S. boundary established in 1842 simply bear the inscription: Treaty of Washington.
 
 
 
One concern among many in an omnibus treaty
The residents of Acadia of the Lands and Forests may be under the impression that the goal of the Treaty of Washington was solely to set the international border in the upper St. John River valley. The Treaty was actually comprised of 12 articles. In practice, Articles I and II established the Canada-U.S. border from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Furthermore, Articles VIII, IX and X included measures of an entirely different order, committing the two powers to fight against the African slave trade and to conduct, on demand, the arrest and extradition of wanted criminals.
 
After-sale services offered to the residents of the divided territory
Article IV of the Treaty states that "the two contracting Parties agree to deal upon the most liberal principles of equity with the settlers actually dwelling upon the Territory falling to them, respectively," including recognizing as valid the land grants already awarded, and all fair claims based on a de facto possession of a lot and its improvement for six years or more. The following panels present maps and other documents prepared accordingly by Commissioners from New Brunswick and Maine who conducted field investigations after the Treaty was signed.
 

Read - Fredericton and Augusta integrate “their” Madawaskas »