Timeline of the Toledo Strip

Last updated

The following is timeline of events surrounding the Toledo War , a mostly bloodless conflict between the State of Ohio and the Michigan Territory in 1835–36, over a 468-square-mile (1,210 km2) disputed region along their common border, now known as the Toledo Strip after its major city.


The disputed Toledo Strip Disputed Toledo Strip.png
The disputed Toledo Strip

Background history



  • 1787: The Northwest Ordinance, also known as the Ordinance of 1787, established the boundary for possible future states in the Northwest Territory as "an east-west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan."


Map of Michigan Territory, established in 1805 Michigan-territory-1805-1818.png
Map of Michigan Territory, established in 1805


  • 1812: War of 1812 delayed survey of the Ordinance Line.
  • 1816: Indiana admitted as a state, with a northern border ten miles (16 km) north of the Ordinance Line, to allow the state some lakefront. Michigan Territorial Governor Lewis Cass renewed request for national survey.
  • 1817: Edward Tiffin, Surveyor General of the Northwest and former Governor of Ohio, commissioned William Harris to rerun the line. Harris drew a line favoring Ohio's claim to the Toledo Strip.
  • 1818: The state of Illinois admitted into the Union. The Michigan Territory was enlarged to include Wisconsin and part of Minnesota. Michigan pressed her claim to the southern boundary. At Lewis Cass' urging, President James Monroe ordered a new survey. John A. Fulton plotted the Ordinance Line a few miles south of Toledo.
  • The situation was now more confused than ever. The Harris Line agreed with the Ohio Constitution, and the Fulton Line agreed with the Northwest Ordinance. The difference between the two was a wedge-shaped strip of land, five miles (8.0 km) wide at the Indiana border, eight miles (13 km) wide at Lake Erie, and 70 miles (110 km) from west to east, an area of about 450 square miles (1,200 km2) and including the mouth of the Maumee river. This was, in effect, a no-man's land between Michigan and Ohio, claimed by both.


early 1830s

  • 1832: Michigan Territorial Council petitioned Congress for an enabling act which would permit Michigan to call a constitutional convention. Congress refused the request because of the unresolved boundary dispute between Michigan and Ohio. Congress passed a law providing for a third survey of the Ordinance Line to be completed December 31, 1835. Andrew Talcott, captain of U.S. Army Engineers was commissioned to undertake the project, and the actual survey was made by Lieutenants Washington Hood and Robert E. Lee.

Eastern capitalists had invested heavily in Port Lawrence real estate mistakenly guessing that the area would enjoy commercial success due to the construction of the Wabash and Erie Canal hoping that it would terminate in Toledo instead of Maumee thus keeping their holdings in wealthy and established Ohio.

Michigan capitalists wanted Port Lawrence in their state. Two sizeable railroad projects were being initiated in Michigan and due to terminate in the Toledo area.






Ohio passed a resolution confirming its belief in the Harris Line which had given Ohio the Toledo area. The Ohio legislature provided for a rerunning of the line to settle the controversy once and for all. Three commissioners, Uri Seely, Jonathan Taylor, and John Patterson, were to begin this project by April 1. Lucas called out the Ohio militia to be on hand, if need be, when the three commissioners arrived at Perrysburg on April 1 April Fool's Day.

Mason was worried. John Thomson Mason, Governor Mason's father and former secretary of Michigan Territory, advised his son to be slow to act and let Ohio be the aggressor.

Mason took his advice and wrote General Brown to hold off on any display of force. In reference to Lucas, his three Ohio commissioners and their guard, Mason wrote, "Let him get on our soil, arrest him, strike the blood at once, disgrace him and his state, and end the controversy."

However, at the same time Mason wrote the General, he also ordered three additional units of the Michigan militia into readiness. Lucas was an enemy and President Andrew Jackson showed no sign he had any intention of interfering.

Mason received a letter from U.S. Secretary of State John Forsyth that Congress might use its prerogatives over a territory to force a compromise with Ohio if Michigan refused to bend on the Pains and Penalties Act. This so distressed Mason that he asked Jackson to remove him as Governor if neither the President nor his administration could support him in the boundary controversy. Mason thought Michigan was protecting itself against a law of Ohio empowering Ohio commissioners, under the protection of the Ohio Governor, to rerun an Ohio boundary in Michigan Territory. If Michigan could not act, who could?

Governor Lucas had every intention of proceeding with the rerunning of the Harris Line, but he was anxious that it be done peaceably. He encouraged President Jackson to appoint a commission to arbitrate the dispute.


One witness wrote, "We are driven from our homes for acting under the authority of Ohio; our houses broken open in the dead of night; citizens taken prisoners, bound hand and foot, and tied to fiery horses, gagged that they may not alarm the rest of the citizens; the females too in the same house are treated with violence by being held and prevented from going to alarm the neighbors; and all this for saying to an individual, he need not obey the laws of Michigan."
After the assault of April 8, two or three hundred Michigan horsemen, armed with guns and bayonets, moved into the city and dishonored the Ohio flag by dragging it through the streets of Toledo on the tail of a horse. Benjamin F. Stickney wrote, soon after the outrage: "There cannot be a doubt that the generous Ohioans will turn out en masse to protect their northern border and restrain the savage barbarity of the hordes of the north."
Note: Major Stickney was regarded as an ardent Ohio Patriot by the people of Ohio and as an overly verbose hypocrite by the people of Michigan.
The outbreak of hostilities forced the Ohio officeholders elected on the sixth to make a fast retreat; likewise, the Ohio line-runners, who were unarmed and unprotected.
Rush and Howard reported to the President and to both Governors the measures they considered necessary if Michigan and Ohio were to avoid war.
  1. Ohio was to continue running the Harris Line.
  2. The residents in the disputed area were temporarily to decide whether they wished to belong to Ohio or Michigan. This would be in effect until Congress made a definite decision at its next session.
  3. They suggested that Michigan not enforce the Pains and Penalties Act nor try anyone under its provisions until Congress had a chance to act.
Mason would not listen. It would make it impossible to carry out his duties as territorial governor. The proposal allowed Lucas to extend jurisdiction over an area the Talcott Line had declared belonged to Michigan. As chief executive it was his obligation to defend the Territory against an aggressor. Force was legitimate within the American tradition. Congress had allowed the territorial government to pass the Pains and Penalties Act. As governor he could not interfere with the courts concerning those already apprehended under the Pains and Penalties Act; that would be “executive usurpation and tyranny.” He was “thwarted by circumstances beyond his control.” He would gladly be a peacemaker, but he was a governor first.
Mason directed the Monroe sheriff and his posse to be on hand to arrest trespassers. He also dispatched a letter to former Michigan Governor, Secretary of War, Lewis Cass, appealing for federal intervention.
The undersheriff of Lenawee County William McNair, mustered and armed thirty Adrian citizens as a posse to march with him against Lucas’ "ten thousand."
Late afternoon the Ohio surveyor and their guards ran their line to Phillips Corner (a small field located fourteen miles (23 km) south of Adrian, Michigan) and, because of the approaching Sunday, pitched camp for a day.
A spy sent by undersheriff McNair to discover the location of the line-runners spotted them. McNair was pleased to learn the Ohioans were close, for he had the necessary force to arrest them or to chase them across the border.
They were promptly surrounded by the posse and commanded to give themselves up. This they did after much delay. But no sooner had they lined up for arrest than their leader started a stampede for the woods. McNair's men fired a volley over the heads of the escaping Ohioans, wounding none but capturing all. They took the prisoners to the Tecumseh jail. Six entered bail, two were released and one was retained for refusing bail on principle.
The first shots of the war had been fired at the so-called Battle of Phillips Corner, a term sometimes used to describe the whole of the Toledo War.


Lucas refused the peace offer. Secretary of War Cass was infuriated by Lucas' unjustifiable exercise of power. Cass asked Mason to temper firmness with moderation. Mason had more to gain by suspending the Pains and Penalties Act than by pressing his right to enforce it. Jackson’s paramount desire was to see the dispute settled amicably, quickly and, if at all possible, by the two governors themselves.


Ohio's response was unsettling. In a special session of the legislature, the delegates passed a number of laws enforcing the state’s jurisdiction over the Toledo area.
  1. a law provided three to seven years hard labor for anyone guilty of the "forcible abduction of citizens of Ohio."
  2. a new county, to be named after the Ohio Governor, was to be formed from the disputed territory with Toledo as the temporary seat of justice.
  3. the legislature appropriated three hundred thousand dollars to implement these statutes and empowered Governor Lucas to borrow three hundred thousand more if he found it necessary.
  4. the lawmakers directed the court of common pleas to hold session there the first Monday in September (September 7).
Lucas appointed a three-man delegation to meet with the President: William Allen, Noah H. Swayne and David T. Disney. Jackson acceded that Michigan discontinue proceedings and prosecutions under the Pains and Penalties Act, that Ohio be given complete freedom to run the Harris Line, and that neither side forcibly oppose the official jurisdiction of the other in the disputed area.
Mason could not bear the suggestion that Toledo come under the concurrent jurisdiction of Ohio and Michigan. Michigan was fighting the war on the principle that the Ordinance of 1787 gave Michigan both complete possession of the disputed area and complete authority to govern it. This authority was derived from Congress.


Upon being informed of these developments, Mason immediately ordered the Monroe posse of about two hundred men into Toledo to arrest Two Stickney. When the Toledoans sighted the armed force, a large number fled across the Maumee River, some paddling their way to the other side on logs. Once safely out of the posse's reach, they gave vent to their anger by firing on the intruders. Fonts of type of the Toledo Gazette were "thrown into confusion."
In the midst of this uproar Two Stickney escaped. The posse arrested three or four Ohio sympathizers, including McKay and Major Stickney. The Major, on the way to the Monroe jail, was forcibly held on a horse by having his legs tied under the animal's body.



Mason's first replacement, Judge Charles Shuler of Pennsylvania, refused the assignment. This left the Territory without official leadership during September, although Mason continued to function as governor in all but formal title. Jackson's appointment of John S. ("Little Jack") Horner of Virginia was never fully received by the Michigan citizens. Shortly after Horner's tenure of office began, the people of Michigan elected Mason as their first Governor. Despite the potential awkwardness, there were no quarrels between Mason and Horner, who was able to work quietly to ease tensions between Ohio and Michigan and then focused his attention on the western portion of the Michigan Territory that was not included in the state. Horner became Secretary of the newly formed Wisconsin Territory in July 1836, leaving Michigan to Mason's leadership.

The September incident amounted to the ability of Buckeye brain to outwit Michigan muscle. Michigan was ready to meet the enemy. Consisting of about two hundred fifty farmers and townsfolk, the contingent sported broom handles for weapons and feathers in their hats for military insignia. The march to Toledo took four days.

Mason's forces arrived hours later on foot, horseback and in boats. No Ohio soldiers were in sight. They stayed on three days and then were ordered back to Monroe for review by the Governor, unaware that Lucas had outwitted them.
With the disbanding of the Ohio troops, Mason was forced to order his own soldiers back to their farms and villages.





The official survey of the line was finished and the governors shook hands over the border.


Related Research Articles

The Toledo War (1835–36), also known as the Michigan–Ohio War or the Ohio–Michigan War, was a boundary dispute between the U.S. state of Ohio and the adjoining territory of Michigan over what is now known as the Toledo Strip. Control of the mouth of the Maumee River and the inland shipping opportunities it represented, and the good farmland to the west were seen by both parties as valuable economic assets.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lucas County, Ohio</span> County in Ohio, United States

Lucas County is a county located in the northwestern part of the U.S. state of Ohio. It is bordered to the east by Lake Erie, and to the southeast by the Maumee River, which runs to the lake. As of the 2020 census, the population was 431,279. Its county seat and largest city is Toledo, located at the mouth of the Maumee River on the lake. The county was named for Robert Lucas, 12th governor of Ohio, in 1835 during his second term. Its establishment provoked the Toledo War conflict with the Michigan Territory, which claimed some of its area. Lucas County is the central county of the Toledo Metropolitan Statistical Area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monroe County, Michigan</span> County in Michigan, United States

Monroe County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 154,809. The largest city and county seat is Monroe. The county was established as the second county in the Michigan Territory in 1817 and was named for then-President James Monroe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Erie Township, Michigan</span> Civil township in Michigan, United States

Erie Township is a civil township of Monroe County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 4,299 at the 2020 census. Sharing a southern border with the city of Toledo about 35 miles (56.3 km) south of the city of Detroit, the township is one of the southernmost areas included in the Detroit–Warren–Ann Arbor Combined Statistical Area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Northwest Ordinance</span> American organic legislation creating Northwest Territory

The Northwest Ordinance, enacted July 13, 1787, was an organic act of the Congress of the Confederation of the United States. It created the Northwest Territory, the new nation's first organized incorporated territory, from lands beyond the Appalachian Mountains, between British North America and the Great Lakes to the north and the Ohio River to the south. The upper Mississippi River formed the territory's western boundary. Pennsylvania was the eastern boundary.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Northwest Territory</span> United States territory (1787–1803)

The Northwest Territory, also known as the Old Northwest and formally known as the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, was formed from unorganized western territory of the United States after the American Revolution. Established in 1787 by the Congress of the Confederation through the Northwest Ordinance, it was the nation's first post-colonial organized incorporated territory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maumee River</span> River in Indiana and Ohio, United States

The Maumee River is a river running in the United States Midwest from northeastern Indiana into northwestern Ohio and Lake Erie. It is formed at the confluence of the St. Joseph and St. Marys rivers, where Fort Wayne, Indiana has developed, and meanders northeastwardly for 137 miles (220 km) through an agricultural region of glacial moraines before flowing into the Maumee Bay of Lake Erie. The city of Toledo is located at the mouth of the Maumee. The Maumee was designated an Ohio State Scenic River on July 18, 1974. The Maumee watershed is Ohio's breadbasket; it is two-thirds farmland, mostly corn and soybeans. It is the largest watershed of any of the rivers feeding the Great Lakes, and supplies five percent of Lake Erie's water.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Michigan Territory</span> Territory of the US, 1805–1837

The Territory of Michigan was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from June 30, 1805, until January 26, 1837, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Michigan. Detroit was the territorial capital.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wisconsin Territory</span> Territory of the US between 1836-1848

The Territory of Wisconsin was an organized and incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 3, 1836, until May 29, 1848, when an eastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Wisconsin. Belmont was initially chosen as the capital of the territory. In 1837, the territorial legislature met in Burlington, just north of the Skunk River on the Mississippi, which became part of the Iowa Territory in 1838. In that year, 1838, the territorial capital of Wisconsin was moved to Madison.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Indiana Territory</span> 1800–1816 territory of the United States

The Indiana Territory, officially the Territory of Indiana, was created by an organic act that President John Adams signed into law on May 7, 1800, to form an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 4, 1800, to December 11, 1816, when the remaining southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Indiana. The territory originally contained approximately 259,824 square miles (672,940 km2) of land, but its size was decreased when it was subdivided to create the Michigan Territory (1805) and the Illinois Territory (1809). The Indiana Territory was the first new territory created from lands of the Northwest Territory, which had been organized under the terms of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The territorial capital was the settlement around the old French fort of Vincennes on the Wabash River, until transferred to Corydon near the Ohio River in 1813.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John S. Horner</span> American politician

John Scott Horner was a U.S. politician, Secretary and acting Governor of Michigan Territory, 1835–1836 and Secretary of Wisconsin Territory, 1836–1837.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stevens T. Mason</span> First governor of Michigan

Stevens Thomson Mason was an American politician who served as the first governor of Michigan from 1835 to 1840. Coming to political prominence at an early age, Mason was appointed his territory's acting territorial secretary by Andrew Jackson at age 19, becoming the acting territorial governor soon thereafter in 1834 at age 22. As territorial governor, Mason was instrumental in guiding Michigan to statehood, which was secured in 1837. A member of the Democratic Party, he was elected as Michigan's first state governor in 1835, where he served until 1840. Elected at 23 and taking office at 24, Mason was and remains the youngest state governor in American history.

Turtle Island is a 1.5-acre (0.61 ha) island in the western portion of Lake Erie in the United States. The island has an unusual political status, as its jurisdiction is divided between the U.S. states of Michigan and Ohio, even though the island has no residents or current use. Turtle Island is located about five miles (8.0 km) northeast of the mouth of the Maumee River in Maumee Bay. Today, the island houses several abandoned structures and the ruins of Turtle Island Light, a lighthouse dating back to 1866. According to the Census Bureau, most of the island physically lies in Jerusalem Township in Lucas County, Ohio with the smaller Michigan portion being part of Erie Township in Monroe County, Michigan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ohio State Route 65</span> State highway in western Ohio, US

State Route 65 is a north–south highway in western Ohio. Its southern terminus is at State Route 47 near Sidney, and its northern terminus is at its interchange with Interstate 280 in Toledo. From south to north, the route passes through the cities of Jackson Center, Uniopolis, Lima, Columbus Grove, Ottawa, Leipsic, Belmore, McClure, Grand Rapids, Perrysburg, Rossford, and Toledo.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Toledo metropolitan area</span> Toledo Metropolitan Area in Ohio, United States

The Toledo Metropolitan Area, or Greater Toledo, or Northwest Ohio is a metropolitan area centered on the American city of Toledo, Ohio. As of the 2020 census, the four-county Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had a population of 646,604. It is the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the state of Ohio, behind Cincinnati–Northern Kentucky, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Akron.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Lucas (governor)</span> Former Governor of Ohio and Territorial Governor of Iowa

Robert Lucas was the 12th governor of Ohio, serving from 1832 to 1836. He also served as the first governor of the Iowa Territory from 1838 to 1841.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maumee Road Lands</span>

Maumee Road Lands were a group of land tracts granted by the United States Congress to the state of Ohio in 1823 along the path of a proposed road in the northwest corner of the state.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lost Peninsula</span> Unincorporated community in Michigan, United States

The Lost Peninsula is a small exclave of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is part of Monroe County in the southeasternmost corner of the state.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">6th Michigan Territorial Council</span>

The Sixth Michigan Territorial Council was a meeting of the legislative body governing Michigan Territory, known formally as the Legislative Council of the Territory of Michigan. The council met in Detroit in two regular sessions, one extra session, and one special session between January 7, 1834, and August 25, 1835, during the terms of George B. Porter and Stevens T. Mason as territorial governors.

The First Michigan Territorial Council was a meeting of the legislative body governing Michigan Territory, known formally as the Legislative Council of the Territory of Michigan. The council met in Detroit in two regular sessions between June 7, 1824, and April 21, 1825, during the term of Lewis Cass as territorial governor.


  1. Outrages at Toledo. (1835, July 22). Detroit Free Press.

Further reading