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A Good and Wise Measure: The Search for the Canadian-American Boundary, 1783-1842 [Paperback]

Francis M. Carroll

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Book Description

June 16 2001

In this detailed and fascinating book, Francis Carroll tells the story of the attempts to settle the original boundary between Canada and the United States from the Atlantic coast to the middle of the continent.

Established by the Treaty of Paris in 1783, it soon became clear that ambiguities and errors in the treaty brought confusion and rivalry in the boundary borderland from New Brunswick and Maine to the St. Lawrence River, through the Great Lakes and from Lake Superior to Lake of the Woods, in the heart of the continent. This borderland, steadily filling with people of competing interests - Loyalists and Yankees, fur traders and soldiers, Europeans and First Nations peoples - became the focus of the major crisis in Anglo-Canadian-American relations for almost sixty years.

Drawing on extensive research and utilizing manuscript materials never brought to bear on the subject before, The Search for Boundary is the first work to thoroughly explain the efforts of the several Boundary Commissions and the failed arbitration of the King of Netherlands - all major international attempts to settle the boundary. The book also provides a fresh interpretation of the relevance the turbulent decade of the 1830s had in contributing to the sense of urgency that finally allowed for negotiation of a reasonable compromise settlement of the boundary in the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 -- "A good and wise measure," as Lord Ashburton called it. Filled with the politics and intrigues of the time, Carroll brings to life a remarkable time in the diplomatic and political history of both Canada and the United States.

Winner of the Dafoe Book Prize, awarded by the J.W. Dafoe Foundation


Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division; First Paperback Edition edition (June 16 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802083587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802083586
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #436,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Francis M. Carroll is Senior Scholar of History at the University of Manitoba and a fellow of St. John's College.


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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4.0 out of 5 stars Carroll leaves no detail untouched and no word unwritten and this reads like an academic study Aug. 19 2014
By Tom in NH - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an extremely detailed history of the treaties that established the eastern border between British North America (Canada) and the newly formed United States. Mr. Carroll leaves no detail untouched and no word unwritten and this reads like an academic study. However, with a bit of patience, the lay reader can enjoy it as well.

And the story itself is fascinating: Establishing our common boundary began with men pouring over crude maps in Europe, then having surveyors try to locate key landmarks despite conflicting facts on the ground. Today's border could very well have been different. Imagine Plattsburgh, Quebec, instead of NY. Over 8,000 square miles of prime Maine timber are US territory but might have been Canada had negotiations gone differently.

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