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The great Ohio patriot, Two Stickney

            In 1787, the U.S. legislature under the Articles of Confederation passed the Northwest Ordinance, establishing the Northwest Territory and laying out the means by which areas of the territory would gain admission to the Union.  The southern boundary of what would become the territory of Michigan was designated to run from the southern tip of Lake Michigan to the Maumee River.  On November 29, 1802, the Ohio Convention in Chillicothe, establishing the Ohio Constitution, designated in Article 7, Section 6, that the border of Ohio was further north than the southern tip of Lake Michigan, and that the mouth of the Maumee River was in Ohio.  However, in 1803 Congress admitted Ohio to the Union as the 17th state keeping the original Northwest Ordinance boundary.  In 1805 they would also officially establish Michigan as a territory.

            The border, therefore, was set differently under Ohio law and U.S. law.  Ohio did not attempt to govern the area in question, but on January 1, 1812, Amos Stafford, representing 50 families who lived in the disputed area, wrote to the Governor of Ohio, saying that they considered themselves Ohioans and felt no obligation to obey the Michigan laws they were living under.  Ohio's congressman were able to get the Act of 1812 passed, which called for a resurveying of the state line.  In 1817, Surveyor General Edward Tiffin, a former Ohio governor, called for a survey, which was performed by William Harris.  The Harris Line found the border to be that of the Ohio Constitution.  However, because of Tiffin's status as former Ohio governor, the results were greeted with skepticism.  In 1818, Congress ordered John A. Fulton to perform a survey, and he found the line to be that which had been designated by Congress in 1803.  The area between the Harris and Fulton lines would become known as the Toledo Strip and encompassed 468 square miles.  However, the Fulton survey did not definitively answer the question of who controlled the Toledo Strip.  Michigan continued to govern the territory but Ohio claimed duplicate jurisdiction.

            In 1821, Ohio established Wood County, which included territory up to but not past the Fulton line.  In the mid-1820s, with the building of canal systems throughout Ohio, Ohioans envisioned Toledo as being a potential metropolis that would surpass even Chicago as a trading hub.  This led to more interest on the ownership of the Toledo Strip.

            Things began to heat up in 1832 when Ohio established the city of Toledo, though not officially.  This led Lewis Cass, Secretary of War under Andrew Jackson and former Michigan governor, to call for a new survey, and Congress approved.  At the same time, Michigan was attempting to gain entrance into the Union.  On December 11, 1833, Ohio congressman helped to block Michigan's entrance because of the ongoing border dispute. Former President John Quincy Adams, then a representative from Massachusetts, said "Never in the course of my life have I known of a controversy of which all the right so clearly lies on one side and all the power so overwhelmingly on the other", in defense of Michigan.  Ohio, with numerous electoral votes, was not a place that President Jackson wanted to mess with, while Michigan as a territory had no say in national politics.

In June of 1834, Andrew Talcott, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers, sent Washington Hood and Robert E. Lee(yes, THAT Robert E. Lee) to survey the boundary.  The Talcott Line found similar results to the Fulton Line and supported Michigan.  Again in December 1834, with Michigan seeking entrance, Ohio congressman pointed out that the borders of Indiana and Illinois with Michigan were at the same latitude as the borders claimed by Ohio, meaning that if Ohio's border was changed, the borders of Indiana and Illinois could be in peril too.  This won support from those two states for the Ohio cause.

Also during 1834, shenanigans were taking place in the Governor's office in Michigan.  After Cass had left the post to become Secretary of War in 1831, John T. Mason was appointed as the governor.  He resigned immediately, leaving his 20 year old son, Stephen T. Mason as governor.  Jackson appointed George Porter as governor, replacing the younger Masons, but when Porter died in July 1834, Masons was back in charge of Michigan.  Under Mason's leadership, Michigan established the Pains and Penalties Act on February 12, 1835.  This law made it illegal for any non-Michigian to enforce law in Toledo, under the penalty of a $1,000 fine or 5 years in prison.

Ohio passed a law in response saying that only Ohio would have jurisdiction over it's own borders, basically establishing the sovereignty of Ohio, even over the laws of the United States.  Ohio also budgeted $300,000 to defend our claim to Toledo, and dispatched militia to the area in question.  The first court date was set for September 7, which would legitimize Ohio's claim to a government there. Michigan responded by passing a similar bill worth $315,000, and giving General Joesph Brown the authority to attack Ohio militia stationed in the Toledo strip.  Mason firmly believed that Toledo belonged to Michigan and that Michigan should be able to achieve statehood without giving up its' claim to Toledo.  He ordered congressman elected and sent to Washington even if they would not be able to take their offices.  This move came into response to Congress' unconditional acceptance of Arkansas to the Union, while demanding that Michigan settle the dispute with Ohio before they could be admitted. 

President Jackson was sympathetic towards Michigan and on March 24, 1835 sent Richard Rush and Benjamin Howard to settle the matter.  On April 6, Ohio held the first elections in the strip.  The next day, Rush and Howard announced their findings, calling for a resurveying of the Harris line and the people of the Toledo Strip to determine their own status democratically.  Governor Lucas agreed and ordered the Ohio militia pulled out of the territory.

That may have lead to a peaceful solution to the conflict were it not for the action of the Michigan on April 8.  Monroe County authorities began arresting Ohio supporters in the Toledo strip.  The chief Ohio patriot in the strip, Major Benjamin E. Stickney and his sons, One and Two, were the primary targets.  Michigians broke into Stickney's house, arresting Dr. Naaman Goodsell and George McKey.  Stickney's daughter was injured in the fracas.  Then, on April 25, a team of Ohio surveyors(Uri Seely, Jonathon Taylor, and John Patterson), along with 50 militiamen were ambushed by a force of 1,000 Michigan militia acting under the Pains and Penalties Act.  Most were simply driven past the Fulton line into definite Ohio territory and were not pursued further, but nine Ohio patriots barricaded themselves in a shack, attempting to maintain a foothold in the strip until a force of 500 militia redeployed by Governor Lucas could arrive.  The Michigians shot at and arrested them though.

On May 11, Michigan was once again blocked entry into the Union because of the conflict.  Ohio, now ready to fully fight for Toledo, established Lucas County in the disputed area and passed a law making it illegal to kidnap Ohio citizens.  On July 12, Joseph Wood, the deputy sheriff of Monroe County, received an arrest warrant for some Ohio patriots.  He was able to arrest Major Stickney and George McKay, who were tied to the bottom of a horse and taken into Michigan.  On July 16, Wood attempted to arrest Two Stickney, but Stickney stabbed him in the left leg with a pen knife, and fled past the Fulton line into Ohio, where 250 Michigan militia sent to apprehend him did not go.

On August 8, President Jackson, growing increasingly annoyed by Michigan's refusal to settle the problem through diplomacy, ordered Governor Mason removed from office and the Michigan militia disbanded.  However, the order was never carried out.  As the September 7 date of the opening of the Court of Appeals in Toledo approached, Michigan dispatched 100 militia under the command of General W. Wing to Toledo to prevent the court from operating, and sent 1,200 more as backup on the way.  However, at 1 A.M. on September 7, ten Ohio militia and five lawmakers met in a school house under the cover of darkness to establish the court.  Junius Flagg was named sheriff, Dr. Horation Conant was named clerk, and John Baldwin, Robert Gower, and Cyrus Holliday were designated as the commissioners.  After the session, the group stopped at a bar, but were warned of the presence of Michigan militia and fled towards the Fulton line as they were chased.  Dr. Conant put the minutes of the court session in his top hat, but lost it.  The minutes were necessary to establish that the session had legally taken place.  He and two Ohio militia went back to search for the hat, and found it and made it back into Ohio just after dawn.  The Michigan militia, with nothing left to do, stayed a few days, plundering Major Stickney's vegetable garden.

With Ohio establishing our claim to legal government of Lucas County, the conflict was basically over.  Congress offered Michigan the westernmost three quarters of the Upper Peninsula and $400,000 in exchange for an official dropping of the claim to Toledo.  The area of the Upper Peninsula in question had wanted to organize themselves as the territory of Huron.  On December 14, 1835, the Michigan Convention in Ann Arbor accepted the terms proposed.  On June 15, 1836, Congress passed the Clayton Act, also known as the Northern Ohio Boundary Act, allowing Michigan to join the Union and legitimizing the claim of Ohio.  On January 7, 1837, Toledo was officially established as an Ohio city.  On January 26, Michigan was admitted to the Union officially.  In 1915, the line was officially surveyed and the governors of Ohio and Michigan stood on their respective sides and shook hands.

The controversy over the state boundary emerged again the 1960s.  Michigan claimed that the Clayton Act applied only to territory on land and wanted control of 206 square miles of underwater land that had been controlled by Ohio for over 130 years.  The Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that the territory would remain part of Ohio.  The radical right wing Michigan Militia still claims that part of Ohio belongs to Michigan.  They say that since the Harris line is now official, the northernmost two miles of Sandusky and therefore Cedar Point should be immediately returned to Michigan.

One of the explanations for the origin of Michigians being called wolverines is that Ohioans during the Toledo War called them "wolverines" because of the viciousness of the animal.  This theory is almost certainly true.


The above has attempted to be an impartial analysis of the Toledo conflict, but now I will defend Ohio's rightful position.  The most important point is that Ohio law, and nothing else, establishes our sovereign territory, and the Ohio Constitution clearly places Toledo under our great state.  Further, why did Michigan believe they owned the Ohio land, but no the same extension of the border with Indiana and Illinois?  The plain and simple action is because of their greed to control what was believed to be a future metropolis.  After the Rush/Howard proposal that the border be decided democratically, Governor Lucas removed our troops and was prepared to let the people make their own decision, whatever that decision may be.  But Governor Mason refused to recognize the right of the people to determine their own status for themselves, and attempted to force the strip to follow Michigan law through terrorist attacks on Ohio patriots.  Michigan started the armed conflict.  The amazing heroism displayed by the often outnumbered Ohioans is inspiring.  Men like Dr. Conant, McKay, and Goodsell risked arrest and possibly even death at the hands of the Michigan militia.  The sacrifices of the Stickney family are the greatest acts ever done for Ohio, and they are heroes of the very highest magnitude.

Bitter Michigians, when discussing the war, will attempt to claim that since Michigan ended up with the Upper Peninsula, they won.  This is BS!  They may have profited from the deal, but only because of Congress' attempt to pander to them.  Ohio had no use for the Upper Peninsula and did not own it. Ohio won the war by defending our rightful territory and preserving our sovereignty.

Please remember the Toledo War as you watch the Wolverines attempt to defeat our Buckeyes on the football field, the basketball court, and in an any potential further armed conflict(don't put it past those psychopaths).