Ohio History Journal






In Dr. Quaife's announcement of plans for the Maumee Val-

ley International Historical Convention, I found the title and the

theme for my address this evening. The purpose of the Conven-

tion, in the words of its general chairman, is "to cultivate and

deepen our pride in the historical heritage which is the common

possession of . . . four great commonwealths . . ."; and "to

assemble in pleasant association men and women of good will, rep-

resenting the two great North American democracies, on the

scenes of their ancient battlegrounds, there to strengthen the ties

of peace and concord which now for a century and a quarter have

maintained inviolate the world's longest unguarded frontier."

We meet on historic ground. The area to be traversed by

the historical pilgrimage which begins here in Toledo tonight was

one of the ancient battlegrounds in the long struggle between

Britain and France for possession of the interior of America.

Long-standing enmities, arising from the rivalries of European

diplomacy, were transferred in the 18th century to the New World,

where the interlocking and overlapping of colonial claims furnished

new causes for conflict. More than two centuries ago, the French

founded posts and settlements on the Wabash and along the

northern tributaries of the Ohio, and by the 1740's, they claimed

the whole Ohio and Great Lakes basin. In their birch canoes,

French fur traders floated down these lakes and forest streams

and established supply bases at such strategic points as Detroit

and developed little farms near-by to furnish pork and beans and

corn-meal for the French voyageurs. British fur traders, on the

other hand, tried hard to divert the fur trade of the Great Lakes

region from Montreal and Quebec to British posts, and the fur

trade, with all its attendant advantages and evils, became an im-

portant factor in the deadly rivalry between the English and






French for the interior of North America. French plans in-

cluded a chain of forts from the head of the Maumee down to the

Wabash in order to protect the vital line of communications be-

tween Louisiana and Canada and to counteract English influence

in the Ohio country, and throughout the 18th century, French and

English rivalry centered along this Maumee-Wabash route.

In 1763, France, by the arbitrament of war, lost her claims to

the area east of the Mississippi. The rivalry between the French

and the English had always been marked by Indian wars and

massacres, in which it would be difficult to apportion the respon-

sibility fairly. But now, the transfer of sovereignty over the

Indian country to the British increased the anxiety of the Indians

to such proportions that it finally burst forth in the famous

Pontiac's Conspiracy, in which many of the chief events were

enacted in this section of the Northwest.

The end of the French regime foreshadowed the end of the

beneficent rule of the king of France over his dusky forest chil-

dren. As the tribes' kindly father, he had sent them priests and

presents. It was not difficult to contrast the red flag of Britain,

as a symbol of ruthless power, with the white lilies of France.

Control of Detroit gave the English command of the passage from

Lake Erie to the upper Lakes; the Indians could not fathom the

meaning of such startling changes of policy, and the British soldier

had little talent for explaining the new situation to the puzzled

Indians. When Major Robert Rogers started west with 200 men

in fifteen whale boats to effect the transfer of the northwestern

posts from the French to the British flag, his route carried him

along the south shore of Lake Erie. On November 29, 1760, the

white flag of France was hauled down at Detroit and Major Henry

Gladwin was left to defend the newly acquired British post.

The bewildered and rebellious Indians found a leader in

Pontiac, an able chieftain who had fought Braddock, and under

the French flag with Montcalm. Presently the frontier was ablaze

with Pontiac's Conspiracy and within a few weeks, every post

west of Niagara in the Great Lakes country, with the exception

of Detroit, fell before Indian treachery or Indian attack. The list

included Fort Sandusky, commanded by Ensign Paully, and Fort




Miami, on the Maumee, commanded by Ensign Holmes. But the

tribesmen were eventually pacified and forced to accept British

sovereignty. Pontiac's Conspiracy marked the end of another

protest of the backwoods against intruding civilization and, inci-

dentally, provided one reason for the British ministry's decision

to keep a standing army in America and to impose taxes on the

colonies for its support.

In 1774, the region where we meet today, became a part of

the French-Canadian province of Quebec, to be administered

thereafter as part of Canada. From Quebec, nearly a century

earlier, had gone such French explorers as Marquette and Jolliet

and La Salle to claim this West for France and to scatter little

French settlements throughout the Ohio Valley. The Quebec Act

of 1774, from the British standpoint, was a masterpiece of states-

manship, for it saved Canada for the British during the American

Revolution.  Because "sedition and treason, like tobacco and

potatoes," in the words of a British attorney-general, were "the

peculiar growth of the American soil," England was eager to sat-

isfy the French Canadians and retain their loyalty to the British

connection at a time when the thirteen seaboard colonies were

seething with discontent. The Quebec Act was passed "with an

eye to Boston." American colonials denounced it as one of the

worst of the "coercive" and "intolerable" acts leading to revolu-

tion, for it deprived them of their claims to the trans-Appalachian

region and established Roman Catholicism and autocratic govern-

ment at their very back doors. Nevertheless, the Quebec Act, in

the words of the late Professor Alvord, was "one of the few states-

manlike measures of the ministry." For all its denial of an elective

assembly, the act "embodied a new sovereign principle of the

British Empire: the liberty of non-English peoples to be them-

selves." Canada remained loyal to the Empire during the Ameri-

can Revolution. The Quebec Act kept Canada British by allowing

it to remain French. Thus, it legally recognized and perpetuated

that French nationalism which to this day is a vital factor in

almost every phase of the life of the Canadian Dominion.

In 1783, as a result of the American Revolution, the North-

west was transferred from British sovereignty to the United States.



What influence the daring exploits of George Rogers Clark at

Vincennes and elsewhere had on this transfer need not concern us

here. Historians are still debating the issue, but none deny that

Clark's exploits will remain one of the most romantic episodes in

American history. For twelve years after the United States was

recognized as an independent nation, the new Federal Government

was engaged in controversy with the British over the ownership

and control of the Northwest posts. England refused to surrender

them and justified her failure to observe the Treaty of 1783 by the

countercharge that the United States had violated its provisions

concerning the loyalists and British debts. As a matter of fact,

the international boundary fixed by the Treaty of 1783 had no

political meaning until thirteen years later, and little economic

significance for even longer. Michigan, to take but one example,

was for decades merely a part of a great commercial and economic

system to which the St. Lawrence River was the key, and its local

history had little meaning in these early years unless related to this

international and transcontinental system.

The British commander at Detroit worked hard to retain con-

trol of the fur trade of the Maumee Valley and the upper Wabash,

and to maintain peace among the Indians so that there might not

be a second frontier tragedy like Pontiac's Conspiracy. The Amer-

icans regarded British policy as an attempt to incite the Indians

against the American frontiersmen, and for several decades, the

record of British-American relations is one of mutual distrust.

There is little doubt about the desire of Canadian leaders for an

Indian barrier south of the Lakes and north of the Ohio. Lord

Dorchester, governor of Canada, held an Indian council at the

Maumee Rapids to preserve peace among the Indians, and Colonel

John Graves Simcoe, of Upper Canada, had similar plans to

mediate in Indian affairs to prevent the American advance down

the Maumee Valley, and at one time actually proposed that the

United States cede Detroit to Canada.

Tomorrow you will travel over some of the ground made

famous by the ill-fated expedition of St. Clair, the first governor

of the Northwest Territory, against the Indians, and you will visit

the scene of Anthony-Wayne's invasion of the Maumee country




and his famous victory over the Indians at Fallen Timbers. When

Wayne marched northward f from Fort Recovery to build Fort

Defiance, he might easily have proceeded to attack a new fort

recently erected by the British on the Maumee. Wayne defeated

the Indians at Fallen Timbers and demanded the surrender of the

British fort, but finally refrained from attacking it and moved on

to build Fort Wayne in the Wabash Valley instead. In August,

1795, Wayne concluded the famous Treaty of Greenville. Re-

cently, an "Altar of Peace" to symbolize the kindling of the

council fire at Wayne's headquarters was dedicated at Greenville,

Ohio, in commemoration of the treaty which closed forty years

of warfare with the tribes in the Old Northwest and opened the

floodgates to western immigration. In 1796, the British evacuated

the Northwest posts and Wayne's army advanced to accept the

transfer of Detroit from British to American control. Malden, in

Canada, now became the rendezvous for large numbers of Ameri-

can Indians who went each year from the Wabash villages to deal

with British and Canadian fur traders.

Peaceful relations between the United States and Canada were

again interrupted by the War of 1812, one of the most unsatisfac-

tory episodes in the long story of Anglo-American relations. The

war was not desired by the British; it was unpopular with a large

element in the United States; it began after its alleged causes no

longer existed; it ended with a peace treaty that made no reference

to these causes; and the one respectable American military victory

was won after peace had been concluded. Neither British nor

American historians can point with much pride to the events of

the war, but Canadians cherish its memories because of their heroic

and successful defense of their long frontiers against the invader

from the south. American imperialism, as manifested in the

desire for territorial expansion at the expense of Canada, comes

nearer to explaining the war than any other cause.

Here, in this general neighborhood, the year before war was

declared, William Henry Harrison fought Tecumseh's Indians at

the Shawnee village of Tippecanoe on the Wabash. At Detroit,

General Hull surrendered after a long march from Urbana through

the Maumee country and across the border into Canada. The next




year, General Harrison, whose army had been assembled at Fort

Meigs on the lower Maumee and on the Portage and Sandusky

rivers, successfully fought the British and the Indians at the Battle

of the Thames after Commodore Perry had won control of the

Lake, and thus brought peace to the Ohio, Indiana and Michigan


The war was a terrible blunder, unnecessary and avoidable.

But Canadian victories became the "title deeds of Canadian

nationality" and "the blood pledge of the birth of a nation." The

development of modern Canadian nationalism in a real sense be-

gins with Canada's experiences in the War of 1812. The War

gave the United States one more lesson that British North America

was not for sale, and that Canada did not propose to change her

allegiance at the call of a foreigner, even when the invader was

a blood brother from the south. The war had one laudable after-

math. Almost before the smell of powder had disappeared along

the Canadian-American boundary, England and the United States

concluded the famous Rush-Bagot disarmament agreement of 1817

inaugurating an era of peace along three thousand miles of un-

defended frontier. After more than a century and a quarter, that

agreement stands more secure than ever, as a glorious lesson in

the practical benefits of real disarmament based on mutual good


In 1837, Canadians experienced a brief, abortive rebellion in

their struggle for responsible government. The rebellion was the

result not so much of a deliberate, tyrannical policy of England,

but rather of misgovernment and corruption by local cliques in

Quebec and Toronto. For several years, the border remained in

an uproar. So-called "Hunters' Lodges" sprang up along the

frontier from Vermont to Michigan and tried to impose repub-

licanism upon Canada from without. Rebel sympathizers appeared

in the Middle West to incite American Republicans against British

rule in Canada and several boats were captured, laden with sup-

plies and muskets, taken from the Detroit jail. Two invasions of

Windsor from Detroit ended in failure, but as late as December,

1838, four hundred "Hunters" marched through Detroit, and



crossed over to the Canadian side where they set fire to some

Canadian shipping.

Almost simultaneously, Ohio and Michigan were fighting their

famous, if ludicrous, Toledo War. We meet on bloody ground

tonight, for near this spot, a little more than a century ago Ohio

and Michigan mobilized their forces to settle a boundary dispute

which was the product of a bad map drawn in 1755, and which

involved a strip of land seven miles at its western and eleven miles

at its eastern end, stretching across Ohio from its present western

boundary to Lake Erie. Governor Lucas of Ohio mobilized 10,000

militia to defend this area, and the "boy governor" of Michigan

announced he would welcome them to "hospitable graves." Bad

maps have produced a lot of history. The Ohio militia encamped

at old Fort Miami, but the fighting was mainly confined to the use

of fists in "The Toledo War" over "The Black Swamp" of the

Maumee basin. The excitement spread to Vistula, Port Lawrence,

Tremainsville and Monroe, and the files of the old Toledo Gazette,

the Michigan Sentinel, and the Detroit Free Press tell the story in

all its gory details. Ohioans were denounced as "nullifiers" by

their Michigan opponents, while Governor Lucas' paper thundered

that "Michigan must be taught to understand that even the lion,

in the nobleness of his nature, can be provoked to the assumption

of his rights."

Thanks to the politicians, the controversy was settled by com-

promise on the eve of a national election, when, as John Quincy

Adams said, the air was "perfumed" with electoral votes. And

so it was that Ohio got the four hundred square miles of disputed

territory, including the outlet of the Maumee, and Michigan re-

ceived 9,000 square miles in the Upper Peninsula, which Detroit-

ers at the time described as a region so "sterile" that it was

"destined by soil and climate to remain forever a wilderness."

Early in 1837, Detroit celebrated the admission of Michigan

as a state, with a "grand illumination," consisting of a tallow

candle set in every window of the Michigan frontier town. Toledo

celebrated her victory in the Ohio-Michigan boundary controversy

eight months earlier with a parade and a tremendous dinner at



the old Mansion House, featured by twenty-six toasts, after the

virile and bibulous fashion of our ancestors.

I pass over other incidents in the history of the Maumee Val-

ley, and in the long story of Canadian-American relations, includ-

ing several foolhardy attempts by misguided enthusiasts in the

United States to lure Canada from her British allegiance, in order

to consider one final incident, the American Civil War in its effect

upon the relations of these neighbor states.

The Civil War preserved the unity of the American Republic.

It also helped build the Canadian confederation, and thus it made

nations of both the United States and Canada.

Within a few months of the outbreak of the American Civil

War, Canada's attitude had changed from one of friendliness and

sympathy for the North to one of suspicion, fear, and anger. This

was partly due to the strained relations that had developed between

the United States and Great Britain as a result of controversies

over neutral rights, blockade, shipping, contraband, and the rec-

ognition of southern belligerency by the British Government.

Another reason was the bluster of American politicians and the

jingoism of American newspapers who advocated that the losses

due to southern secession be balanced by the annexation of Canada.

As the war progressed, Confederate agents and refugees

gathered on Canadian soil to plot attacks upon the northern border.

Confederate agents operating in Canada financed various ventures

to burn shipping on the Great Lakes, to free the Confederate

prisoners on Johnson's Island near Sandusky, to raid various Lake

ports, to capture steamers on Lake Erie, to seize the U.S.S.

Michigan at Sandusky, and to sink shipping in the Detroit River.

Rumors spread in 1863-1864 that a hundred Confederates had left

Toronto for a raid across the Detroit River, and thousands were

ordered to man the Lake steamers for action against Confederate

agents. A fourteen pounder was shipped from Guelph, Upper

Canada, to a port in Michigan in a box marked "potatoes," and

Confederate agents plotted to get the support of the Copperheads

who were especially strong in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

The Civil War was followed by a long period of controversy

in Anglo-American relations, by the repeal of the Canadian-



American reciprocity agreement of 1854, by the threat to end

disarmament along the border, and by an actual invasion of Canada

by Irish-Americans who thought they could advance Ireland's

independence by twisting the tail of the British lion in Canada.

The Chicago Tribune, in January, 1866, regretted that Canada

had not been taken during the last war with England and an-

nounced that if the chance ever presented itself again, she would

"be snatched up by this Republic as quickly as a hawk would

gobble a quail." Radical Republicans, such as Chandler of Michi-

gan and Stanton of Ohio, favored annexing Canada. The former

introduced a resolution in 1869 to the effect that "the true solu-

tion of all the controversies between Great Britain and the United

States will be found in a surrender of all British possessions in

North America to the people of the United States," and represen-

tatives from Ohio and Illinois argued that it was "fated," "under

heaven," "that the American flag shall wave over every foot of

this American continent in course of time."

The Civil War made Canada fear the United States and look

to her defenses, particularly in her undeveloped western areas,

which were already being drawn within the economic orbit of

San Francisco, and were in danger of being overrun by American

immigrants surging westward across the prairies. It was fear of

the United States, as well as the example of the United States,

which stimulated the formation of the present day Canadian

federation, and decisively affected its form.

After 1874, a calm unknown for a quarter century descended

upon Canadian-American relations. The United States was busy

with hard times and political scandals; Canadian confederation

was accepted as an accomplished fact, and annexation ceased to

be advocated, at least in responsible quarters.

May I close these remarks, I hope not altogether inappropri-

ately, by commenting briefly on present day Canadian-American

relations now that Canada is again involved in a great Empire

War. It was Andre Siegfried who said that all of North American

life is the result of the struggle against two axes--the North--South

axis of geography, and the East-West axis of history. This is

particularly true of Canada, whose allegiance to the mother coun-




try is deep and genuine, but many of whose interests are with the

United States. Fear and dislike of the United States, at least in

past years, have been the foundation of her national feeling.

Canada's anomalous position has at times made her hard to live

with, both for Great Britain and the United States. Her loyalties

pull in one direction; her interests often in another.

The Canadian Dominion has achieved a recognized sovereign

status internationally by developing her national sovereignty, not

in complete isolation, but within the British Commonwealth of

Nations. To a large measure, her fear of being absorbed or domi-

nated by her powerful neighbor to the south has been responsible

for this choice. At the same time, American and Canadian cul-

ture, existing side by side in these days of rapid and complete

intercommunication, is bound to make these two peoples more


There are many Canadians who still feel a certain mortifica-

tion because the United States and Canada are not equals in power

and influence, and these people sometimes seek compensation for

their inferiority feeling by pointing out, with considerable justifica-

tion, the superiority of Canadian judicial procedures over Ameri-

can "corrupt" judges, "shyster" lawyers and "sentimental" juries,

or by stressing Canadian superiority in all the primary virtues, such

as honesty, religion, and morality.

Unfortunately, there is a Canadian stereotype of Americans,

perhaps largely due to American newspapers, magazines, and films,

from which it is easy to infer that the United States is a boastful,

erratic, and irresponsible nation of racketeers, tree- and flag-pole

sitters, dance marathoners, bridge hounds, and seekers after pub-

licity. If Canadians frequently give little recognition to the great-

ness and generous qualities of the American people, Americans

contribute to the super-sensitiveness of Canadians by their colossal

ignorance of Canadian history, and their boastful comments upon

everything that is "bigger and better" in the United States.

It is conceivable that Canada's importance may so increase in

the years ahead that she may well become the heart of the British

Empire. Nature has made Canada a liaison nation between the

United States and Great Britain. Our Monroe Doctrine, in times




of international crisis, is a guarantee of Canadian nationhood.

Canada's almost inevitable participation in Europe's wars, even

though it be by her own free choice, makes isolation for the United

States so difficult that the Monroe Doctrine may well become, in

this sense, an entangling alliance for the United States. Canada

has remained and will remain British. At the same time, she is

steadily becoming more North American. Will she eventually

join the Pan-American Union, and thus merge the Pax Britannica

into a Pax Americana?

For more than a century and a quarter, we have been at peace.

It has been a "peace with friction," but mutual good will and

common sense have always triumphed in the end. In the routine

of every-day life, the international boundary has been practically

non-existent, and as the flow of population proceeded from East

to West, pioneering was far more important than politics. Before

1837, swarms of Americans crossed the boundary to settle down

and seek a livelihood in British North America; since 1837, popu-

lation flowed southward from Canada into the United States, and

Canadians joined with American pioneers in settling the Mis-

sissippi Valley. Canada had no Middle West of her own because

the inhospitable Laurentian shield deflected the tide of Canadian

settlement to the south of the Lakes into the United States, and so

Canadians shared in clearing the forests of Michigan, in turning

the prairie sod of the Mississippi states, and in building the rail-

roads running into Chicago. In every period, from the days of the

Loyalists of the American Revolution to the recent American

invasion of the Dominion's western wheat belt, Americans have

likewise shared in the building of the Canadian Dominion. Indeed,

there are some North American families that have changed

political allegiance once every generation since 1750. Not until

1933, as a result of the war and the depression, was any systematic

effort made to curb the free interchange of population between

Canada and the United States, and we may assume that present

restrictions will be only temporary.

"Good fences make good neighbors," but better than fences

is the spirit of mutual respect and good will which motivates the

relations of the two great self-governing nations that have devel-




oped from common Anglo-Saxon origins on this North American

continent. The spirit of our peoples springs from an unshakable

devotion to the principles of human freedom and democratic living,

and in the words of Matthew Arnold, "What attaches people to

us is the spirit we are of, not the machinery we employ."