The Country That Used to Exist Between the US and Canada
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Build your website for 10% off at http://squarespace.com/hai. The US-Canada border is a work of art—modern
art that is because it looks like a three year old drew it, they couldn’t even successfully
draw a straight line, and it just doesn’t make sense. The fact that this line was so
poorly defined and drawn means that there are still disputes today on exactly what is
the US and what is Canada, but 200 years ago, this line led to an entirely new country arising.
For a short period, about 13 years, all of this area was part of the British Empire.
You see, for the longest while this area of Canada was French but then Britain won it
from the French in the 6 year, 8 month, 4 week, and 1 day long Seven Years’ War.
That began the 13 year long glory period of British rule over most of the inhabited part
of North America but then oops, Britain decided taxes were going to be a thing so the colonies
decided that British rule wasn’t going to be a thing and independence was declared in
1776. The two countries did some recreational fighting for the next seven years but then
they sat down and signed the Treaty of Paris. Not the 1323 Treaty of Paris or the 1657 Treaty
of Paris or the 1810 Treaty of Paris or the 1812, 1814, 1815, 1856, or 1857 Treaty of
Paris, the 1783 Treaty of Paris. That 1783 Treaty of Paris defined in its second article
the border between the US and British Canada and included in that section was the line
defining a portion of the New Hampshire border as at, “the northwesternmost head of Connecticut
River,” meaning the northwesternmost headwater of the Connecticut River. The problem was
that the US and Britain disagreed on what that was. According to the US, you see, the
northwesternmost headwater is Halls Stream which flows directly into the Connecticut
River. According to Britain though, the Northwesternmost head of the Connecticut River started at the
creatively named Forth Connecticut Lake, and encompassed the streams that connected the
third, second, and first Connecticut Lakes and Lake Francis. Therefore, the US believed
the border with British Canada to be this while Britain believed it was this. This inevitably
caused issues as both countries tried to administer this small rural area.
The area would see both Canadian and American authorities acting as law enforcement but
the most pressing issue was that both Canadian and American tax collectors would come and
collect tax. This double taxation was, in the residents minds, unacceptable. Staying
on brand with the American revolution, their residents therefore declared independence.
In 1832, the Republic of Indian Stream was formed. The residents wrote and established
a constitution, started a system of government, passed laws, established taxes, they acted
just as any other country and, at least based off what we know, seemed to do pretty well
considering they were all first time country leaders.
Understandably, the legitimacy of this declared country was and is disputed. Of course, the
process the Republic of Indian Stream went through to declare their independence was
not all that different than the process the United States went through decades earlier
and the US seems to be fairly well recognized today, but the US had more people, guns, and
George Washington’s. British Canada basically ignored the claimed independence of Indian
Stream and continued to send their law enforcement and tax collectors while the US actually seemingly
might have recognized the independence of Indian Stream. The US apparently started charging
import duties on goods coming from Indian Stream just as it would for any other foreign
country thereby confirming its independence. Eventually the King of the Netherlands, who
was acting as an arbitrator between the US and Britain, declared the area part of Canada
and the residents were therefore asked to perform their mandatory military service for
Britain. Indian Stream was having none of that and wrote to the US attorney general
asking to be part of the US, just not part of New Hampshire. The attorney general said
no and that they were still part of New Hampshire so the New Hampshire militia got ready to
invade Indian Stream and take it by force. Canada then said that they would send their
military to defend Indian Stream as they still considered it theirs. After a long stalemate,
though, New Hampshire called Canada’s bluff and their militia invaded and occupied Indian
Stream. It was then, by all measures, the United States and the Republic of Indian Stream
was happy because that’s what they wanted all along, to be part of one country rather
than two. The border was legitimized to make Indian Stream American with a treaty in 1842
and the US went off happily in the sunset never fighting with anyone ever again.
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