Minnesota's Boundary with Canada: Its Evolution Since 1783
Others of interest who served the Commissions were David Thompson, who at age 46 started a new ten-year career as Surveyor Lieutenant George W. Whistler, the father of the painter also a Surveyor; Major Joseph Delafield. United States Agent; and Dr. John J. Bigsby Secretary and Physician. Lass tells the story of the expeditions that set out each spring from 1816 to 1827. The placement of the line in every channel or narrow passage or waterfall was the result of extensive exploration, survey, mapping, debate, argument, tradeoff, and, possibly, compromise. The Commissioners and their Agents and staffs tended to be over-scrupulous in protecting what were perceived as their country's interests. with the almost inevitable result that a basic distrust eventually characterized the relationships. In the end, after Barclay claimed the St. Louis River (near the present city of Duluth) as the boundary intended in 1783. and Porter countered with a claim for the Kaministikwia (near Thunder Bay) the Commission failed to agree about the Lake Superior-Lake of the Woods boundary. It was left to Lord Ashburton (in touch with Barclay) and Daniel Webster (advised by Delafield and others) in 1842 to take up the maps and reports produced by the Commissions. Lass, for the first time, gives us a detailed analysis of the process through which these two statesmen agreed on the Pigeon River as the border intended in the Treaty of 1783. Even this settlement did not ease the tasks of marking the actual frontier. In 1872 the Canadian Commissioner, Donald R. Cameron, wanted to eliminate the Northwest Angle as United States territory and in 1896 Duluth Congressman Charles A. Towne wanted the United States to obtain control of Hunters Island. Such initiatives were met by stony refusals by both governments to reopen those agreements which had been so painfully reached.
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