What Was The Toledo War?

The Toledo war, also known as the Michigan-Ohio war, was a border dispute between the state of Michigan and the state of Ohio, which lasted from 1835 to 1836. The almost bloodless conflict was caused by the different interpretation of the law and by the poor geographical understanding of the great lakes and that led both states to claim jurisdiction over the 468 square border strip called the Toledo strip.


The North-West ordinance was promulgated by the Congress of the Confederation in 1787 with the main objective of creating the North-West Territory. The order envisaged dividing the territory between three and five states in the future. The north-south border of three of these states was to be the west and east lines, which are traced through the southern end of Lake Michigan, which was unknown at the time. During the 1802 constitutional convention in Ohio, delegates would receive a report stating that Lake Michigan extended further than previously thought. Like the trapper, the Ohio boundary tilted slightly to the northeast to intersect with Lake Erie at the northern end of the Miami Bay, called the Harris line.

When the Michigan territory was created in 1805, Congress used the North-West ordinance that differed from that stipulated by the Ohio constitution. The position of the border was contested in the 19th century; in fact, the Port-of-Miami residence prompted Ohio to solve the problem they did when they contacted Congress about the problem. A survey was done by Edward Tiffin who placed the Ohio border at the mouth of the Mauwee River. In response, Michigan conducted their survey based on the original ordinance and determined that the Ohio border was in the southern part of the Maumee River. Therefore Ohio refused to surrender and even set up a local government in the Toledo strip.

The Michigan-Ohio Toledo War

The Ohio militia composed of fully armed militiamen 600 was led by General John Bell who arrived in Perrysburg last March 31, 1835. To counter this move, Governor Mason accompanied by General Brown arrived in Toledo with 1,000 armed militia ready to defend the strip, preventing Governor Lucas from marking the border.

In addition to Sheriff Woods’ stab by Two Stickney, the conflict reported no casualties. The political stalemate that prevented Michigan from becoming a state frustrated by Governor Mason; he then asked for the constitutional convention in May 1835. Ohio responded by creating Lucas County after Governor Lucas, and this created even more tension.

Michigan has passed the law on penalties and offenses that made it a crime for anyone living in the Strip to carry out any government action from Ohio. Mason commissioned Joseph Brown of the 3rd United States Brigade to lead a militia to stop the Ohio invader, and Lucas responded by sending his militia to the strip. Lucas re-sent his surveyor to mark the Harris line, and General Brown’s militia attacked them. In response governor, Lucas has passed numerous controversial acts including establishing Toledo as a seat of Lucas. Later, Sheriff Wood was stabbed and, under pressure from Ohio, the president replaced Governor Mason with Horner.


President Jackson signed a bill allowing Michigan to become a state on the condition that they cede the strip and accept the upper peninsula as part of Michigan. Michigan refused the offer but the bankruptcy caused by massive militia financing pushed them to take the offer, and then Michigan became a state that can receive funds from the treasury. The 2nd Ann Arbor delegated the convention of December 14, 1836 ended the war and, although many considered it illegal, they accepted the term. Michigan became the 26th state on January 26, 1837. The Toledo strip ended up being part of Ohio, while Michigan extended to the upper peninsula.

Historical meaning

The Toledo war is historically significant because it was the driving force behind the definition of the borders of the Ohio and Michigan states. The war between Michigan and Ohio was an almost bloodless war without victims except that of Sheriff Wood. The conflict challenged the North-West ordinance that was promulgated by the Congress of the Confederation. To acquire the Toledo strip, the already powerful Ohio state did everything it could to prevent Michigan from becoming a state. Although the border conflict has delayed the state of Michigan, the territory has become the 26th state of the United States.

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