Published by Goose Lane Editions on March 19th 2013
A little-known episode in North America's history, the 1839 Aroostook War was an undeclared war with no actual fighting. It had its roots in the 1793 Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolutionary War but left the border of Maine (then part of Massachusetts) and British North America unsettled, and in the War of 1812, when parts of northern Maine were occupied by Britain. Fearing a negotiated border would negatively affect their claim for the disputed territory, Maine occupied the Aroostook River valley in early 1839, British regulars, New Brunswick militia, and Maine militia were then deployed in the dead of winter, as the kindling was laid for a third major Anglo-American conflagration. Eventually, cooler heads prevailed, although they did not deter a number of skirmishes between the Maine Land Agent posses and a loosely organized group of New Brunswick lumbermen.
A complex story of friction, greed, land grabs, and rivalry, this border dispute which nearly resulted in war was eventually settled by the Ashburton-Webster Treaty of 1842 and told by Campbell in The Aroostook War of 1839.
In the Maine Mason Magazine, the Grand Librarian wrote: “Part of Maine’s past is the Aroostook War (sometimes, believe it or not, called the ‘Pork and Beans War’) which arose from border disputes with Canada. It was a bloodless confrontation that also had Masonic connotations as lodges on both sides of the still undefined border sought to add to their membership, much to the chagrin of their ‘brothers’ who saw it as poaching. Learn more with The Aroostook War of 1839 by Gary Campbell and others like it in YOUR Grand Lodge Library! Extra points to the Brother who can identify the GM who wrote about this conflict.”