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Daniel Webster did not resign because he was in the midst of negotiations with Lord Ashburton over the Maine-Canadian border. This boundary dispute had been long and, at times, bitter. In 1838 and 1839 lumber jacks of Maine and New Brunswick had threatened to "shoot it out". The situation was so tense during this winter that it was called the Atoostook "War" even though no lives were lost. By 1842 the Webster Ashburn Treaty Line was fixed. It followed the St. Croix River westward in an irregular horshoe bend toward the south. The line left the St. John's River and proceeded in an irregular southward line to the 45th parallel at a point almost on the Connecticut River. At the 45th parallel the boundary extended west on the parallel to the St. Lawrence River and along the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario. At the same time the border between the Lake of Woods and Lake Superior was fixed along the Rainy River and a chain of Lakes. This settlement left the Mesabi iron deposits within the United States.

The Webster Ashburton Treaty was a negotiation between the US and Britain signed August 9, 1842 primarily regarding territorial boundaries in the Northeast. It also addressed subjects such as the suppression of slave trade and extradition between the countries. Based upon the diplomatic interaction between Secretary of the State, Daniel Webster, and British Foreign Secretary Lord Ashburton, it accomplished the following:

  • Disputed borders between New Brunswick and Maine were defined with precision (the US got 7,015 square miles and Britain got 5,012 square miles)
  • Borders concerning the Great Lakes area were also more clearly defined
  • Several bodies of water, including St. John's River, were allowed open navigation
  • Initial decisions regarding extradition of international criminals were made
  • The US agreed to sentry warships off the coast of Africa in an attempt to reduce slave trade, but rejected British inspections of ships that may be carrying slaves

The Webster Ashburton Treaty is historically important because served as an exemplary precedent in peaceful, diplomatic relations between Britain and the US. It also prevented the Aroostook War of 1839 from actually taking place...

The ambiguity of the 1783 Treaty of Paris is one of the reasons this treaty came about. Due to the fuzzily outlined boundaries, conflicts slowly grew between US and British lumberjacks in the New Brunswick/Maine area . Rights over who would get logs and the use of the rivers for shipping became a such a point of conflict that New Brunswick officials imprisoned several US citizens, which prompted militia from Maine to seize the territory. However, the treaty was crafted before any fighting began.

Sources: http://www.bartleby.com/65/we/WebsterA.html http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/dwe/14323.htm

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