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convenience, but my situation was not perfectly free from embarrassment ;
time had been consumed by circumstances beyond my expectation or con-
trol, and obstacles existed to my progress which would have rendered it
difficult to procure positive testimony anywhere in the district of country
upon the river St. John, extending above the river Madawaska.

The first course of inquiry relates to tlie condition of settlers on the
river Aroostook. The rights of the Commonwealth of Massachusettrj
were exercised upon the territory situated on this river, at a very early
period after the source of the St. Croix was settled under the convention
of 179-1. In executing this convention, it was distinctly admitted by the
representatives of the British Government in this country, that the bound-
ary line of the treaty ot 1783 crossed the St. John. Grants were ac-
cordingly made by the Legislature of INIassachusetts, of sections of land
embracing both banks of the Aroostook, and bordering on the boundary
line, namely: one to the town of Plymouth, and one to General Eaton
Locations of these lands were made, and surveys were commenced under
the authority of Massachusetts, and lines were run around one of the
tracts more tlian twenty years ago ; and lottiiigs were made in the
year 1812.

Tiiese acts were jjerformed in the [)resence of the Provincial Govern-
ment established on tiie borders of the river St. John. That stream
afforded the only communication then open to this country, and thence
supplies and assistants were procunid for the piu'posc of making the above
survey in 180G or 1807.

U is not known tjiat any linlluT acts were exercised on behalf of the
original proprietors of these granted lands, or that any improvements
were madi.' uijon them prior to the late war with Great Britain. The
furllier occupation of this remote frontier, for the purpose of agriculture,
was necessarily suspended during that period; nor is it known that there
was a single settler of any descrijilion upon the Aroostook when this in-
terruption ceased, at the conclusion of peace in 1815. This event was
succeeded liy a course of .seasons and circumslaiices unfavorable to the
progress of population aiul improvenient in that ([uarter, and also by the
ineasiu'cs whicli ensiifd for the s(^para(ioii of Main(\ Upon the establish-
ment of this Stale, tin- surv<;y of this section of country was resumed by
a jouit commission of the two States, for the purpose of dividing their
common property, f)ursuant to the provisions of the act of separation,
according to the direction of their respective Legislatures. The progress
of these surveys was observed in the Province of New Brunswick, and

[ Hciiate l)(,c. No. 17 I. J 177

they have been extended over nearly all llie country in the terri(ory of
Maine watered by tlie Aroostook,

It was discovered that trespasses were conunilted on this territory, by
persons belonging to the Province, in cutting timber. Opportunity had
existed for pursuing such practices with impunity, in the open and un-
guarded state of the country, from the ease of access thereto, by persons
engaged in that ])usiness from the river St. Jolm. This operation was
arrested by the authority of this State, and partial indemnity obtained for
the trespasses that had taicen place, and, upo)i objection being made, the
practice of granting licenses for this purpose, which it was presumed had
issued improvidently, was reHnquished by the Government of New Ikuns-
wick. Subsequent to the last census, and the adoi)tion of the above pro-
ceedings by tlie authority of this State, in connexion with Massacinisetts,
a number of persons, some citizens of the United States, and others
formerly belonging to the British Provinces, principally descendants of
persons born in this country, out of the Province of New Brunswick, be-
fore the Revolution, have settled on this territory. A few foreigners arc
intermixed with the Americans, and a small number of Irish are under-
stood to have planted themselves in the neighborhood of tlie line. Some
seem to have gone on under the persons who have cut timber. With
whatever impression the original trespassers may have gone on, the
present settlers appear to have established themselves generally in that
country, under the opinion that it was American territory. They under-
stood that they were within the boundary line, as it had been repeatedly
run. They were so informed by respectable persons, and assured to the
same effect by public agents. They learned that a part of the land had
been granted by the Government, and knew that the country was survey-
ed by the States ; and their object was to obtain title of confirmation to
their possessions, either from the proprietor or the States. It is believed
that these remarks apply to all the native Americans, and the only ex-
ceptions to them are understood to be individuals of foreign extraction.
The population of this settlement is represented to be of the same general
description which has been formed on the new American settlements in
the vicinity of Houlton. The traits of character by which their appear-
ance and conduct are chiefly marked, are hidustry, activity, hardihood,
sense, and honesty.

These settlers have only an equitable title to their lands, some of which
they have cleared up and cultivated, and from which they have taken
good crops for several successive seasons. They have made some at-
tempts to avail themselves of the advantages aftorded upon their streams
for the erection of grist-mills, which have not been fortunate, and their
means for this purpose are quite inadequate.

The settlers of this section have been peculiarly situated. Tney are
nearly isolated from the rest of the community. They have not enjoyed
the benefit of any legal magistracy, nor the advantage of any internal in-
tercourse, being surrounded with wilderness, except by the circuitous
course of the St. John, toward Houlton. The connexions of these ]reople
have been necessarily with that river, where they have sought a market
or conveyance for their produce, and whence they have been obliged to
derive their supplies. The American inhabitants, whose concerns have
carried them towards the river St. John, have been exposed to a system
of municipal regulations or inhibitions; operating on articles of domestic

178 [ Seiiiitc Doc. No. 171. J

produce, iind subjecting it to seizure anywhere in its transit. The man-
ner in which some of these regulations have been put in force, will ap-
pear troni alil-lavits of persons belonging a considerable distance below
tlif Aroostook. Instances of this description are complained of as
ninutTous ; but, as they princijially relate to acts of authority i)erformed
wiiliiu the Province of New Brunswick, as some of the otRccs which pro-
duceil these vexations have been abolished, and as some modification has
lately taken place in the provisions of Province law on this subject, the
crtect of which is not fully understood, the inquiry has not been extended
how far they have been applied to any individuals above. Seizures,
liowever, under some pretext, seem to have been committed on the

The settlers upon the Aroostook, in addition to their ordinary privations,
have been affected by the general depression occasioned by the recent
embarrassment of business, and injury to credit among the larger dealers
upon the river St. John ; and it is natural to suppose that they may have
thus found it difiicult to obtain the means to satisfy debts, generally small,
which they owe upon the river, and they are not able to defray the ex-
penses attached there to litigation. On the other hand, the American ter-
ritory has allbrded them no asylum. No acts of pretended authority,
however, in violation of the jurisdiction of this State, under pretext of
judicial power, are known to have taken place until a comparatively late
period. Mr. George Morehouse resides at Tobique,on the opposite bank
of the St. John, within a parish recently formed, by the name of Kent ; he
formerly bore the commission of a subaltern officer in the army, and at
present, it is stated, actually exercises a commission of the peace for the
county of York. For two or three years past, he appears to have been in
the habit of issuing precepts directed to the constables of the parisii of
Kent, for the recovery of small demands against inhabitants on the Aroos-
took. One other person, supposed to be a provincial magistrate, is men-
tioned as having issued a single precept in like manner ; and service of
these precepts is made upon inhabitants many miles within the boundary
line, by persons undertaking to act as constables of the parish of Kent.
The manner in which these persons proceed to execute their offices, some
with more mildness and civility, and one who is represented as generally
coming armed, and treating them with greater harshness, is detailed in
several affidavits. In the execution of these precepts, it appears that the
cattle and moveables of the inhabitants are subjected to be taken and im-
mediately carried away, to be disposed of within the British territory ;
and that the jiractice is extended to take articles of property belonging to
the debtor, which are exempted from attachment and execution by the
laws of tills State. In one instance, it appears that the same cow, being
the last and only one, was taken twice on a warrant or warrants from Mr.
Morehouse, issued on the same demand ; the second seizure being on ac-
coimt of costs. The inhabitants themselves have also been arrested on
these precepts, and, not being able to find bail where none could be legally
taken, are removed as fast as possible over the lines to places of safety
within the Province, where they may be able to procure sureties, or settle
the debts, or otherwise m;ilce their peace with the officer or the magistrate.

'I'bis [)ractice appears to have prevailed with some frecpiency. One or
two cases appear to have occiuTcd in comiexion with this practice of Mr.
Morehouse, in which precepts have been served, either from him or from

[ Senate Doc. No. 17 1. | 179

authority further below, by a Mr. Traig, deputy sheriff of the county of
York. One of the settlers on the Aroostook was solicited by Mr. More-
house to act as constable for th(^ parisli of Kent, but, after being qualified
by him, declined to serve. It is j)ossible that instance's have occurred in
which settlers above tlie lin(>, from want of other resort, may have been
led incautiously, or froiu ditl'erent motives induced, to apply to Mr. More-

But the ditiiculties to which the inhabitants have been subjected incon-
sequence of this practice, the disproportionate amount of expenses attached
to the collection of small demands, and the certainty of the law, as they
consider it to be administered by Mr. Morehouse, seem to have produced
an endeavor to adjust disputes iimong themselves, by a s])ecics of submis-
sion to referees, and thereby avoid the authority undertaken to be exer-
cised among them bv the otiicers of the parish of Kent or the county of

That this state of things should have resulted in the collisions that have
occurred between the persons despatched by Mr. Morehouse and the peo-
ple living on the Aroostook, is rather a subject of regret than a matter of
surprise. In the absence of any regular administration of justice, having
adopted the princi])le of an equitable arbitration, to which they undertook
to yield voluntary deference, the inconvenience of having its first opera-
tion overruled by the order of Mr. Morehouse seems to have led to a sort
of after-consideration or inquiry respecting the bounds of the parish of
Kent, and consequently into a question concerning the applicability of Mr.
Morehouse's autliority within the American boundary. Admitting that
authority to extend to the settlement on the Aroostook, the opposition into
which Dalton and others, who undertook to aid Arnold in the recovery of
his cow, were betrayed, would be clearly without justification. At all
events, it is obvious that the state of doubt which has thus been cast upon
their condition, has led to the unfortunate consequences of irregular repri-
sal ; and however it may be deemed a measure of venial otfeiice against
unauthorized aggression, it has iiivolved the well-meaning and otherwise
unotfending inhabitants of this settlement in the evils of a state of border
warfare. Several illustrative details are exhibited in the atfidavits. The
inhabitants of the Aroostook, while they have thus been subject to process
from Mr. Morehouse, do not seem to have been considered by him as be-
ing entitled to the protection of the Government which he undertakes to
personate. Early last spring, he appeared among them, and forbade their
working on the lands, and continuing their usual labors of clearing and
cultivation, to get a living. He posted up written notices to this effect, on
the Eaton grant, and indifferent places; and marked some small parcels of
lumber, wliich they had cut, for seizure. It was shortly after this period
that George Field, whose affidavit is exhibited, appears to have left the
country, in consequence, as he says, of the inconveniences to which he
was exposed, and went with his family to Houlton. Tiiese settlers seem
to have been generally regarded by Mr. Morehouse, in some light, as a
sort of outlaws or wild paople, who had no proper habitancy, and were
liable to be dealt with in any manner that might please the Province ot
New Brunswick, or its proper ofiicers. In no legal light do they seem to
have been regarded as subjects, except as trespassers and intruders on
Crown lands, liable to judicial process; and, under color of some such
character, measures appear to have been subsequently applied to divest
them of their property, and expel them from their possessions.

180 [Senate Doc. ^'o. 171. J

Early in the month ol' July last, Daniel Craig came with tlie first writ
from Air. Mori-house, to take the cow that Arnold liad of M'Crea; and
also delivereil sunnnonses to the settlers to appear forthwith before the
court, which was then on the point of sitting at Frederickton, to answer
to the King of Gre.u Britain, in pleas of trespass and intrusioii on Crown
lands. This process was served by him indiscriminately on all the inhab-
itants, including the citizens of the United States, as well as those born in
the Provinces, or others. This sudden proceeding naturally produced a
state of confusion and consternation among the settlers. No time was af-
forded them to deliberate. It was necessary to set out immediately, in
order to arrive in season. Some concluded to go, and others determined to
stay. Some proceeded part way, and then returned home. Others kept
on their journey to Frederickton ; among whom were some of the Amer-
icans. Those who continued to the end were subjected to severe priva-
tions, and were obliged to remain several days without means of support,
or being able to obtain any other satisfaction than that it Avould be neces-
sary to appear again the present winter. The narrative of these circum-
stances is contaiued in some of the alHdavits, and may suffice to convey
an impression of the embarrassment and distress occasioned among these
settlers by the service of this process.

The ati'air which followed soon after, respecting the takhig and retaking
of the cow, which was adjudged by the referees to belong to Arnold, on
the warrant of Mr. Morehouse, accompanied with a sense of their having
exj)Osed themselves to his displeasure, and perhaps to the whole force of
authority from New Brunswick, operated, with the menaces of the con-
stable employed on that occasion, and the conduct of the Irishmen at the
lines, and the reports which they received now and then from below, to
keep the inhabitants of Aroostook in a continual state of agitation and
alarm. They were particularly threatened with a visit by a larger party
than the former, to punish those wlio were engaged in that aftray, and put
an end to any further spirit of opposition, by destroying all means of resist-
ance, or removing the inhabitants from the settlement. The reality of the
apprehensions •■ntertained by the persons who were concerned in that af-
fair, is attested by the circumstances of their being afraid to occupy their
own habitations, lodging about in ditierent places, in barns, or in the
woods, nuistering together for the night in larger or smaller parties, or sep-
arating for greater security. The statements of several of the settlers on
this subject, relate to })articulars within their experience or Icnowledge.

A circumstance that may seem not to have diminisluMl the ground of
These appn'li(!usious, occurred sometime in the month of November last.
The dwelling of Ferdinand Armstrong was entered about break of day by
a small ])arty i'rom l)elow, who seized his brother, James Armstrong, soon
after he had risen from bed, and conveyed him in a canoe, without loss
of time, out of the territory. He was obliged to give up articles of wear-
ing apparel, and pait with what means he had, in order to obtain his re-
lease ; the parly jirctending to have authority to compel payment of a
debt and costs. Tluvals were also utltTcd that inen and horses were
coming up the first sleddiug, to take those who were concerned in the of-
fence about taking the cow away. Richard Inman, who was particularly
mentioneil as of tlic coming parly, appears to be one of the persons previ-
ously employed by Mr. Morehouse, and whom the settlers were most
afraid of, in consetiucncc of his practice of visiting them with arms.

[ Senate Doc. No. l7I.] 181

In consequence of tlicsc occurrences and impressions, the inluiljitcints ot"
the Aroostook have been afraid to go down to the river St. John, either to
mill or to obtain their necessary supplies ; and have undertaken, the pres-
ent winter, to ell'ect a comiinmication with Iloalton.by cutting out a road
altogether within the American territory. Tliey were employed upon it
the last of December, and judged they were about abreast of Mars hill,
and hoped to accomplish it in about thirty working days. Tlie pioneers
employed to mark out the direction, had found their way out at Foxcrofi,
after enduring intense cold, and sutfering most severe hardsi)ips.

The condition of the inhabitants of the Aroostook may be shortly sum-
med up. They are of the same general description as those that have
made purchases and improvements within the new townships or planta-
tions on tlie American territory, living in the neighborhood of each other
and of the river St. John. Tiiey are upon land of which grants and sur-
veys were commenced several years ago, some time before the war with
Great Britain, under the authority of Massachusetts, without remonstrance
or objection from New Brunswick. They have settled upon the territory
along thirty miles into the interior, without title, subject to the rights of.
the proprietor or the proprietaries, and to the laws of this State then estab-
lished. They acknowledge its authority, and, as it would seem to follow,,
are entitled to its protection.

The authority of New Brunswick cannot apply to them on the ground
that any of them had been formerly inhabitants of that Province, any more
than that of Maine extends to its citizens in New Brunswick. A Govern-
ment has no power to cause precepts to be executed upon its own subjects
in a foreign jurisdiction. The Government of the United States shields
aliens who are residents, and are well aliected towards its principles, and
wish to become citizens. But several of them are American citizens.

The actual survey and occupation of this whole country, under the pub-
lic authority of Maine and Massachusetts, were entitled to consideration
from the Province of New Brunswick. These acts were at least to be
respected, as assertions of riglit on the part of those two States ; and some
regard might have been had to the circumstance that this right was ori-
ginally exercised under ignorance of any adverse claim, and long before any
was advanced. On the other hand, no act had ever been exercised on
this territory by the Government of New Brunswick, except in permitting
its subjects to cut timber the same as on Crown lands.

So irregular a practice could not be sanctioned or sustained ; and in
compliance with the sense of the superior Government, it is supposed that
the pretension was relinquished as unteuable, with a fairness of profession
which gave it credit. The power of removing the trees from the terri-
tory brought into dispute has been abandoned, and a new practice has
taken place, to wit, that of removing the people there planted. If this
prhiciple can be sitpported, it abrogates the whole authority of the State
of Maine over this portion of its territory.

The next course of inquiry relates to the state of things upon the ter-
ritory of Maine, upon the river St. John, within the boundary line, which
crosses that river about throe miles above the Grand tails, where the nav-
igation of the river is interrupted, and where it was contemplated on
the part of Great Britain, in determining the St. Croix, that the meridian
would cross. It may be proper, in the first place, to advert to the situa-
tion of a colony of French settlers which planted themselves within our

1S2 f 5?eiii»tc l)i)C. Nt). 17 1.]

territory. princi]>ally, il' not entirely, since the acknowledgment and es-
tablishiiieiil of llie bounds of Massachusett, by the treaty of 1783. This
settlement was composed of anciml French neutrals, who had originally
endcavoreil to escape from the Government of Nova Scotia, or of their
descendants^, who had been expelled from their farms and improvements
on the establishment of the Province of ^ow Brunswick, and who have
been joined, from time to time, by their countrymen from Canada, who
have not chosen to continue under the Govermnent established on its

It is not known whether any individual of European origin existed on
this territory at the peace of'l782; nor that, excepting aborigines, any
other than descendants of l''rench ancestors had made any occupation
prior to the peace of 1S15, The Acadianshad retired, with the Indians,
from the presence of the population which took possession of that ancient
part of Nova Scotia, after it was yielded to Great Britain and settled by
emigrants from the United States who adhered to the British Govern-
ment, and have always lived in great harmony among themselves, as a
distinct race, preserving their own language, habits, and manners. Situ-
ated near the borders of the American territory, at a distance irom any
officers of Government, they appear to have also preserved their neutral
character, and to have remained as a people by themselves, so far as
tiiey misht be permitted by their position toward the Province of New
BrunswK-k. Without having any sympathy with the system established
in that Govermnent, they have not been in a condition to oppose the ex-
ercise of any power that might be exerted over them. Little occasion
could be presented for the ^employment of criminal process among the
relics of a primitive population, represented as of a "mild, frugal, indus-
trious, and pious character," desirous of finding a refuge under the pa-
triarchal and spiritual power of their religion. It has been customary
for them to settle their civil affairs of every description, including their
accidental disputes and ditierences among themselves, by the aid of one
or two arl)itcrs or umpires, associated with the Catholic priest, who is
connnonly a missionary from Canada. Without any predilection toward
a foreign faith or power, they have had a natural desire to be quieted in
their possessions; and it is stated that one or two of them, under circum-
stances not exactly known, either obtained or accej)ted grants of certain
parcels of their property, at an early period, from the Province. The pro-
priety of nMinquishing any practice of that kind, after the determination
of the St. Croix, was obvious; and the benefit of a sanction might have
been alNnvcd to the previous facts of this d(>scription, without attaching
to them any injurious motive or etlect. The whole country, however,
not in actual possession of any cultivator, was considered by the French
settlers as o]niu to occupation at the period of the last peace with

In 1817, an American was invited to seat himself near the mouth of
the Madawaska river, where he was assured that no one had any right
of pro])erty; and when it was afterwards claimed by virtne of a thle,

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of StateMaine boundary--Mr. Greely, &c. .. → online text (page 23 of 56)