President had to intervene in Toledo War

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.

 

By R.L. HEMINGER

 

The “Toledo War,” the beginning of which we discussed last week and in which a company of Hancock County troops took part, came to a head in 1835 when the legislatures of both states passed acts at the same time, each setting up its claims to the narrow strip of land which now forms the northern area of Ohio from Indiana eastward. Up until that time there had been bristling statements and threats, but now “the fat was in the fire.”

The state of Ohio ordered the counties in the area to take over governmental affairs in the strip. Michigan countered with a threat to arrest any who sought to do so.

Governor Lucas, of Ohio, ordered three citizens of his state to re-mark what he contended was the boundary line. The Michigan governor told his state militia leader to be prepared to act when Ohio moved into the disputed territory.

So Governor Lucas and his boundary commissioners and staff took their stand at Perrysburg March 31, 1835. Ohio militiamen numbering 600 men, including the Findlay company, were on hand. In the meantime the Michigan governor and 1,000 men arrived in Toledo, to prevent the re-marking of the line.

However, the federal government intervened at that point. Two commissioners, named by President Andrew Jackson, arrived on the scene. Bloodshed was prevented at the time and the soldiers from both states went back home.

The Ohio governor continued to insist that the line be re-run. The boundary commissioners entered the disputed area and some members of their party were taken into custody. The assault on the surveying party created a great stir throughout Ohio. Governor Lucas called the state legislature into special session and read a bristling message, and an act was passed “to prevent the forcible abduction of citizens of Ohio” and setting up Lucas County, named in the governor’s honor. The new county was composed of much of the disputed area. The sum of $300,000 was appropriated for defense purposes and the governor empowered to borrow another sum of like amount if needed. The adjutant general reported that 10,000 troops were ready to take the field.

As a consequence, it looked like armed conflict. The government at Washington became alarmed and Governor Lucas decided to send an Ohio commission to Washington to confer with President Jackson. This commission succeeded in persuading the chief executive that Ohio’s claims had some foundation. President Jackson told the Michigan governor to refrain from any belligerent actions and to await the next session of Congress, which, it was indicated, would settle the dispute.

The Michigan governor evidently didn’t act as President Jackson thought he should, and he was removed from office Aug. 29, 1935. The final settlement was made at the ensuing session of Congress when on June 15, 1836, Michigan was admitted to the Union with the line desired by the state of Ohio as its southern boundary. As compensation for what it termed a loss of territory, Michigan was given the large and valuable peninsula now known as the upper peninsula of the state. Ohio thus got what it wanted and Michigan received a most valuable territory.

The real object of Ohio’s persistent claim was to secure within her boundaries the favored and important harbor at Toledo. It was especially necessary at this time in order to complete the canal system of the state which was then taking form.

The dispute caused considerable debate in Congress before it was settled. John Quincy Adams, former president, was the chief advocate of Michigan’s claims, while Ohio was warmly defended by outstanding leaders as well as the whole delegations of Indiana and Illinois. It is not improbable that politics helped to solve the question. The Jackson administration could ill afford to lose the support of the states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, just to secure the electoral votes of Michigan.

Governor Lucas’ position made him a national hero. After a long political career in Ohio, he was appointed the first territorial governor of Iowa by President Van Buren in 1838 and served in that office until 1841.

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