March 25, 2017

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The Daily Maine Fact

On March 25, 1839, a truce agreement between Maine's governor John Fairfield and Britain's lieutenant governor of New Brunswick, Major General Sir John Harvey, forestalled potential hostilities over a border dispute in northern Maine, though both Britain and the United States continued building fortifications to guard their territories. These included the rebuilding of Fort Fairfield (a more permanent structure was begun in April, 1839 to replace an earlier structure built of stolen timber) and Fort Kent (another structure enlarged in 1839 to accomodate some of the 50,000 federal troops assigned to northern Maine). The border dispute itself was not permanently settled until the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842. The so-called "Bloodless Aroostook War" or "Pork and Beans War" never saw any battles, and legend has it that the "War" cost only one human life - that of U.S. Army Pvt. Hiram T. Smith. In fact about 38 men died from various non-combat causes. As for Pvt. Smith, alleged causes of his death include that he froze to death, that he was run over by an army supply wagon, that he was killed by a horse he was feeding, that he fell through the ice of Lake St. Clair (though there is no such lake in Maine), that he was shot for desertion and that he fell into a pond and drowned. (Sources: Army and Navy Chronicle, Vols. 8-9 (by Benjamin Homans), Wikipedia, Aroostook War, Wikipedia, Hiram T. Smith, "Aroostook Becomes a County," by Jere Green, from The County: Land of Promise, Anna Fields McGrath, editor. Norfolk, Va.: The Donning Company, 1989))

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