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Thursday October 30, 2014
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Take Back the Toledo Strip!

 

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In 1787, the Second Continental Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance, which created the Northwest Territory. The boundary between what became Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana was to be an east-west line drawn from the southern end of Lake Michigan. But there was confusion at the time about the spatial relationship between Lakes Michigan and Erie--a confusion perpetuated by Ohio, which wanted the mouth of the broad Maumee River and its port city, Toledo, as its own.

Ohio's creative surveying led to a 468-square-mile disagreement. Though willing to let Michigan administer the strip of land as a territory, our southern neighbor had no intention of surrendering it permanently. When Michigan began the statehood process in the 1830s, the congressional delegation from Ohio blocked its application. President Andrew Jackson, eager to receive Ohio's electoral votes in the next election, sided with the more powerful state. Former president John Quincy Adams said of this, "Never in the course of my life have I known a controversy of which all the right was so clearly on one side and all the power so overwhelmingly on the other."

In 1835, both Ohio and Michigan mustered their militias to contest ownership of the "Toledo Strip." After a Michigan sheriff was stabbed while trying to arrest an Ohio partisan--the only blood shed in the "Toledo War"--President Jackson offered a compromise in which Michigan would cede the disputed zone to Ohio in exchange for a greatly enlarged Upper Peninsula. In September 1836, delegates to a special convention in Ann Arbor rejected the offer.

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