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In 1903 the Canada-Alaska border dispute was decided by a tribunal of 3 American members, 2 Canadian members, and 1 British member. The British member sided with the Americans with the stated goal of improving relations with the USA. Was this a needless concession or a gift vital to maintaining friendly relations with the USA?
In 1903, the President of the United States was one Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, who was arguably the most pro-British President in modern American history. He famously made a remark that America and the British Empire together could "whip" the rest of the world. Had he been President in 1914, he certainly would have brought the U.S. into World War I on the British side. His son, a Brigadier General, fought at Normandy in World War II.
In 1905, Roosevelt negotiated the Peace of Portsmouth in the Russo-Japanese war in favor of Britain's ally, Japan. In 1906, Roosevelt secretly supported Britain's ally, France against Germany regarding Morocco, while pretending to be an "honest broker." (But he may have pushed back World War I by a decade.)
Basically, it made sense for Britain to cater to Teddy Roosevelt. Whether it would, or should have done so for another President is open to question.
Jason Lee, (left). (Dorothy O. Johansen and Charles Gates, Empire of the Columbia. New York, 1957. Plates following p. 160. Photo courtesy of Special Collections, University of Oregon Library, Eugene.)
Jason Lee's "First Oregon Mission" at the edge of French Prairie in the Willamette Valley (right). (Charles Wilkes, Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. Vol. 4. Philadelphia, 1845, 374. Drawn by A. T. Agate.)
British and American Activities in the Pacific Northwest, 1818-1848
The Convention of 1818, resolving territorial disputes following the War of 1812, authorized a "joint occupancy" of the Pacific Northwest whereby the rights of both British subjects and American citizens to "occupy" and trade in the region were recognized. The British North West Company of fur traders remained the best established colonizing power in the region.
The merger of the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company, in 1821, brought the American Northwest and Canadian West into the domain of the HBC, a successful fur-trading company that, over time, also developed other extractive resources in the region. The well-capitalized and shrewdly managed HBC dominated non-native society in the region between 1821 and 1840, mainly through the designs of George Simpson.
American interest in the Pacific Northwest was sustained by a variety of individuals visiting the region in the 1820s and 1830s. Mountain man Jedediah Smith traveled to the area in 1829. Booster Hall Jackson Kelly came in 1832, although he did not require a visit before promoting the Oregon country to U.S. citizens. American missionaries arriving during the mid- and later 1830s included Jason Lee (1834), Marcus and Narcissa Whitman (1836), and Henry and Eliza Spalding (1836). These individuals did not represent substantial institutional power, but their labors kept alive the idea of an American Northwest.
The overland migration of Americans to Oregon began in earnest in the early 1840s. In 1840 there were about 150 Americans residing in the Oregon Country. By 1845 there were 5,000 or more U.S. settlers, most of them clustered in the Willamette Valley (see illustration below). Most had arrived by way of the overland trail, and thus ushered in a new and epic means of cross-country travel. The sudden growth of a resident U.S. population, and of settlers rather than fur traders, altered the balance of power in the area that would become U.S. territory.
In 1842, anticipating the possible loss of much of the Oregon Country to the U.S., Simpson consolidated HBC operations northward by shifting the Columbia Department's base from Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River to Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island.
In 1843-45, American settlers established the Oregon Provisional Government in order to provide an American system of laws and principles for their growing society.
In 1846 Britain and the United States signed the Oregon Treaty , extending the international border between the U.S. and what would become Canada along the 49th parallel to the Strait of Georgia, and then out the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This agreement resolved one "contest" for the region by dividing it between the British and the Americans. Thereafter, such questions as Indian and land policies on either side of the border would be determined by different systems of government. The HBC long remained influential in British Columbia.
To establish itself as a nation and assert its borders and control over territory, the United States had to accomplish two things. First, it needed to dispossess and displace native peoples, and extinguish their claims to land. The last lesson offers examples of that process beginning to work (albeit under British rather than American influence) among Indians of the Pacific Northwest. Second, it needed to interact with other non-native powers, particularly the nations of Europe, to define and defend American claims to territory. Some times this interaction was peaceful, and some times it was not. Most American territory came into the nation's possession via wars or purchases. Thus the Revolutionary War produced most of the territory east of the Mississippi River and the war with Mexico between 1846 and 1848 incorporated the Southwest, while the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 brought most of the lands between the Mississippi and the Rockies into the nation, and a deal with Russia in 1867 procured Alaska.
Oregon City, sketched as the "American Village" by Captain Henry J. Warre. (Reproduced in Henry James Warre, Sketches in North America and the Oregon Territory. London, 1848. Plate 9.) Courtesy University of Washington Special Collections.
The territory that became the American Northwest was appended to the nation in somewhat unusual fashion, by comparison. First it passed through a phase during which the main two non-native claimants, Britain and the U.S., agreed to share it for an indefinite time—the so-called joint occupation. Second, national ownership of the area was resolved not by war or purchase but by treaty, as the two sides negotiated a boundary dispute. The dispute on the Pacific coast, settled in 1846, was complemented by one on the Atlantic coast, resolved in 1842, between Maine and Canada. Both sets of negotiations were part of the process whereby Britain and the United States reached a more substantial accommodation with one another, after the conflicts of the American Revolution and War of 1812.
The Pacific coast area in dispute, called the Oregon country, stretched from the crest of the Rockies in the east to the ocean in the west, and from the 42nd parallel in the south (today's California-Oregon border) to the parallel of 54 degrees, 40 minutes in the north (today's Alaska-British Columbia border). This territory was claimed by the various explorers who arrived first by sea and then by land. At different times, then, Spain and Russia were among those contesting the region, but between 1818 and 1824 the Spanish and Russians relinquished their claims to the territory south of Alaska and north of California. Thereafter, only Great Britain and the United States, among the developed nations, competed for the Oregon Country.
It should be noted that while Great Britain and the United States both had claims to the entire Oregon country, the two sides mostly expected to divide the territory between themselves neither could realistically expect to acquire the entire Oregon Country. East of the continental divide, the U.S. and Britain had agreed upon a border running west from the Great Lakes at the 49th parallel. Virtually from the start of discussions over Oregon, the British expected this border to continue west to the Columbia River, and then to follow that river to the ocean. They were willing, in other words, to concede everything south of the 49th parallel, and then south and east of the Columbia River, to the United States. But they wanted to maintain access to the river itself, which after all was the key artery of travel within HBC holdings, and they wanted control over Puget Sound, which they rightly regarded as a superior harbor. At the same time, the Americans generally did not expect to gain anything north of the 49th parallel, but they coveted Puget Sound and access to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Keep in mind that during the 1820s and 1830s the United States had no good harbor on the Pacific coast. San Diego and San Francisco were first Spanish and then Mexican ports. The shoreline of Oregon offered no great harbor for ships, and the bar at the mouth of the Columbia was notorious for interfering with transportation between ocean and river. Until the conclusion of war with Mexico, 1846-48, the U.S. regarded Puget Sound as the best place for it to acquire a protected, deep-water harbor on the Pacific coast.
Michael T. Simmons , one of the first settlers of Oregon Territory north of the Columbia River. (University of Washington Libraries Special Collections, Portrait Files.)
Basically, then, the boundary dispute between Britain and the U.S. revolved around which side would get the Puget Sound country and the remainder of Washington state west and north of the Columbia River. In this competition, the British initially had by far the strongest hand. The Englishman George Vancouver, after all, had been the first non-native to discover and explore Puget Sound. And British fur traders, particularly in the employ of the HBC, had in the course of organizing the entire region into an economy of extractive resources, set up permanent bases in western Washington. By the 1830s the HBC had established posts at Fort Vancouver and Fort Nisqually and along the Cowlitz Rover, and they had also developed cordial relations with Indians. Many of George Simpson's designs for the Columbia Department between 1824 and 1840 had been based on the assumption that the British would retain western Washington and lose eastern Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Thus Simpson had, for example, encouraged American missionaries to set up operations south and east of the Columbia accepted settlement by American citizens in the Willamette Valley and tried to extinguish fur supplies in the lands he expected the British would not retain. He believed until the early 1840s that the British would hold on to western Washington, which he regarded as integral to HBC operations on the west coast, and thus did not expect to have to modify activities there in response to an American takeover. Simpson's decision to relocate the Department's headquarters in 1842 from Fort Vancouver to Victoria, however, signaled a change in his thinking. By that time, the balance of power between the British and Americans in regard to the boundary dispute was shifting.
When the U.S. initially agreed to the idea of joint occupation in 1818, it did not really have the resources to make a strong imprint on the Pacific Northwest. It had neither a navy as powerful as Britain's nor a colonizing agent as well-organized and focused as the Hudson's Bay Company. The great majority of its population resided far to the east of the Mississippi River. Its fur traders and trappers had not, until the 1820s, penetrated the Rockies successfully or found ways through the mountains to the west coast. Some Americans nurtured the idea of a Pacific-coast harbor, but most did not envision the United States expanding its holdings beyond the continental divide.
Champoeg in 1851, (right) looking south.
This situation began to change during the 1830s and 1840s. Mountain men and missionaries began to link the Pacific Northwest to the eastern states through their travels to, working in, and descriptions of the region. Moreover, a few parties of settlers began to make their way into the area. Then, during the 1840s, the United States became keenly interested in westward expansion—so interested that national politicians took up the West as a key campaign issue and the U.S. annexed Texas and went to war with Mexico for the remainder of its northern holdings (what became the American Southwest). Simultaneously, thousands more Americans decided to migrate overland toward the coast, including especially the Willamette Valley. American interest in the Pacific Northwest, after about two decades of stagnation, suddenly climbed dramatically, taking the form of both settlers arriving to reside in the region and politicians and statesmen willing to confront the British in order to resolve the boundary dispute in the Americans’ favor. By contrast, British interest in the Northwest remained limited, largely because the HBC monopoly in the area had precluded much attention by others from Great Britain. American citizens were taking a keen interest in the far corner of the continent, while British subjects most likely knew little about it, or else resented the fact of that the HBC was a monopoly.
The arrival of American settlers cast into bold relief the different approaches adopted by the British and Americans for colonizing the region. British colonization proceeded through the Hudson's Bay Company, whose corporate operations focused on extraction of natural resources. The HBC generally discouraged settlement in the lands it expected to retain, and discouraged private ownership of lands it aimed to minimize any disruption to the fur trade and any dislocation of its Indian trading partners. It also worked to control non-native society in the area so that the company, and not individuals, dominated the local economy and governed the region. Americans, by contrast, expected to bring to the Northwest the more individualistic and democratic attitudes of their society. They insisted upon acquiring privately owned parcels of land and having a voice in government. And they did not wish to be subordinate to such a powerful firm as the HBC. One HBC official summarized the differences nicely: farms in the Willamette Valley, he explained, could flourish "only through the protection of equal laws [the antithesis of monopoly], the influence of free trade [again, the antithesis of monopoly], the accession of respectable inhabitants [meaning the arrival of families of settlers, as opposed to unattached, male fur traders]. while the fur trade much suffer by each innovation."
The arriving American settlers were aware of these differences. Although they did a good deal of business with the HBC, and actually benefited from HBC assistance and trade, they also resented the power of the Company. One way to assert their own interests, and try to limit the influence of the company in the region, was for them to organize their own government—an action that reiterated their faith in American values of self-government and republicanism. Borrowing from the Iowa Territory code of laws, Oregon settlers formed the Provisional Government between 1843 and 1845. The first laws provided for the acquisition and secure ownership of land, the holding of elections, and the formation of a militia. Later legislation provided for an executive and judicial branch of government and divided the territory into counties for local administration. Importantly, the Provisional Government outlawed the migration and residence of African Americans—both free and enslaved—to Oregon. In short order, between about 1838 and 1845, the American presence had gone from being minimal to being substantial. This change was an important factor in strengthening the American claim to the territory.At the national level, too, there existed a desire to stake a stronger claim to the Pacific Northwest. Britain and the U.S. had remained in communication about the Northwest boundary, with both sides generally unyielding in their desire to control Puget Sound. Some Americans grew impatient with the dispute, so much so that James K. Polk, when running for president in 1844, declared that he wanted the U.S. to acquire "all" of Oregon, i.e., the entire region between California and Alaska, including present-day British Columbia. Another campaign slogan to the same effect, "Fifty-four Forty or Fight" (which meant that if the British did not yield the entire Oregon Country, up to the parallel at 54 degrees, 40 minutes, the Americans would go to war for it), summarized the aggressiveness of some Americans in this era of "Manifest Destiny." This belligerence came exactly as Britain was growing more inclined to concede western Washington to the U.S., and it actually may have stalled resolution of the dispute. By 1846, nonetheless, the two nations came to an agreement and signed the Oregon Treaty. The United States, patient since 1818, finally secured the Pacific port they had coveted for so long, a port to which they surely had less claim than the British. The British lost western Washington, but retained the interior coastline of the Strait of Georgia and Vancouver Island. The HBC retained the right of navigation on the Columbia and its substantial holdings in what was now American territory. Yet the transfer to U.S. control did not bode well for further operations south of the 49th parallel, and the HBC would eventually sell its interests in the American Northwest and retrench to British Columbia.
Few Americans today pay much attention to the Oregon Treaty of 1846.The nation's acquisitions by war have seemed more dramatic, and even its acquisitions by purchase have seemed more memorable. The diplomatic negotiations that produced the treaty perhaps appear dull, as if the two sides finally just arrived at a fair compromise. Maybe there is a sense, too, that the U.S. did not take the far corner of the Pacific Northwest so much from another nation or people as it did from a company, the HBC, whose own operations were inhibiting American-style "development" of the region. It would be best, however, to keep in mind that in Canada, across the border that the Oregon Treaty extended in 1849, feelings are different. There, the Oregon Treaty is often remembered vividly as a loss, and one of many examples of American disrespect for Canadian borders and national integrity. Thus James R. Gibson, a Canadian geographer, writes in Farming the Frontier: The Agricultural Opening of the Oregon Country 1786-1846 (1985):
The Oregon Treaty was not a fair compromise there was no division of the 'Oregon triangle' [the disputed lands in Washington state], all of which went to the United States. Canadians have valid reasons for regretting and even resenting the Oregon settlement, since the British claim to the territory north of the Columbia-Snake-Clearwater river system was at least as good as, if not better than, that of the United States on the grounds of discovery, exploration, and settlement, and since the future Canadian Dominion was deprived of any harbour on Puget Sound. Canadians should not forget that they were dispossessed of part of their rightful Columbia heritage, a heritage whose economic potential in general and agricultural possibilities in particular were initially and successfully demonstrated by the Hudson's Bay Company. They should also remember that whenever it is tritely declared that Canada and the United States share the longest undefended border in the world, it is so mainly because the stronger American republic won its northern boundary disputes at the expense of its weaker neighbour, just as it southern boundary was gained at the expense of a weaker Mexico.
Map of the San Juan Islands International Boundary Dispute, (right).
Gibson's interpretation reflects a longstanding and pervasive Canadian concern about the sheer power of the United States as well as an accurate memory of the many threats that Americans have posed to the integrity of Canadian borders and Canadian national identity. I would, however, add one caveat to Gibson's formulation. When the Oregon Treaty was signed, the Confederation of Canada did not exist America's northern neighbor was not a nation, but rather several British colonies. When the U.S. negotiated the Oregon Treaty, it did so with Great Britain, not Canada, so it is logical to keep Britain's participation in the treaty in mind (there was as of yet no official Canadian participation in diplomacy). Canadian views of this British participation hint at different kinds of weakness in the face of American strength. Gibson, for example, refers to a British mood of "appeasement" in yielding western Washington to the U.S., while another Canadian scholar (John Saywell, Canada: Pathways to the Present ), recalls not only American aggression but also British carelessness in giving "what is now Washington and Oregon to the United States." American interpretations, by contrast, do not portray Britain as weak, and thus do not tend to see the Oregon Treaty as a deal struck with a "weaker neighbour." Quite the contrary, in fact. In explaining President Polk's decision to accept the 49th parallel as the boundary, Robert H. Ferrell, in American Diplomacy: A History (1975), writes that Polk "had given in to Great Britain [rather than standing up for more territory]. It was one thing to press territorial claims against a nation such as Mexico, and quite another to stand up to the most powerful nation in the world, as Britain was during the nineteenth century."
Canadians and Americans tend to recall the Oregon Treaty in distinctly different ways. In this case and in virtually every other, how one interprets the past depends in large part upon where one is viewing it from.
UW Site Map © Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, University of Washington
Was it worthwhile for Britain to side with the USA in the Canada-Alaska border dispute? - History
Native America: Great Links to the True History of the Midwest
Little Turtle , Chief of the Miamis arguably one of the greatest of the Warriors, Strategists, and Native Diplomats of Time. Read on of the account of the demise of his Birth-Village, his Son and co-habitants. It barely took 2 months after the Turtle's death for Harrison to carry out this vindictive act on his family and his people. .
By Pat Radaker
Thanks to the youth of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia City and the Indiana Historical Bureau, Whitley County will soon erect a third state historical marker. The marker commemorates the ravages of the Miami tribe as ordered by William Henry Harrison. It is the only battle fought on Whitley County soil during the War of 1812. The following is the history of that battle.
"And the rivers ran red with blood." This line is often heard said about a battle and is no less true in the description of the Battle of Eel River in September 1812. This description was given by early local settlers. Long after the battle the white residents visited with Chief Coesse and told of his conversation with them. As told by Coesse, a part of that blood was that of his father, and Little Turtle's son, Black Loon. The following paragraph was taken from a paper written by Charles More, descendent of these early white settlers.
"The Turtle died in 1812 a short while before Turtle's village was destroyed. Simrall had strict orders not to molest the Turtle's home when he went out there and destroyed the village. Uncle Natty Gradeless was a soldier in Simrall's Dragoons. He married my grandmother's sister. He described the Turtle's house as being comfortable log house having all the conveniences of those times. It makes me blush when I think of some of the depredations the whites committed against the Indians. When the soldiers went out there in 1812 they took a barrel of whiskey in an army wagon, abandoned it to the Indians, then returned and destroyed them after they became drunk. Katy-mon-wah (Black Loon), the Turtle's son, and father of Ko-waz-zee (Coesse) was killed. They took his body up on the bluff and buried it. Coesse's wife said the river was clogged with dead Indians at that place. Whenever Coesse passed that place, he took off his coon skin cap, knelt down and prayed."
The James Simrall that More refers to, was ordered by Harrison, then territorial governor, to wipe out the Miami villages along the Eel River. He left Fort Wayne on September 18 and on the 19th proceeded to the Eel, wiped out Little Turtle's village as well as his trading post as he pushed the Miami downstream to a point near the Paige home. Harrison stated in letters that there was no evidence to indicate there would be any problem from the Miami. The actual fact is that Little Turtle had advocated peace for nearly 20 years prior to this time. A copy of a letter written by Little Turtle to Harrison clearly advocates peace saying they would even keep an eye on Tecumsah and his eight followers and give Harrison immediate word if there became anything to fear.
All in all it seems that this victory of Simrall's was a very empty thing and a sad day in Whitley County's history.
The marker will be dedicated Saturday, May 19 at 9:30 a.m. at Paige's Crossing.
Jeannette Brown, Whitley County Historian, contributed to this article.
Today Little Turtle's Village is a mobile home park and a pig farm. And his son Black Loon is buried at some unknown location within.
His place of burial is even more shameful maintained by the Fort Wayne Parks Department, it is nothing more than an overgrown abandoned city lot in an old residential neighborhood whose only visitors are apparently pre-pubescent teens who like to drink beer and smoke a bit, because they know that no one within Fort Wayne could care less about the Turtle and his resting place, and they are safe from anyone.
The Proud Shawnee of Ohio : "So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home."
Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee Nation:
History of the Miamis Miami Location
Northern Indiana and the adjacent areas of Illinois and Ohio. Most of the Wea and Piankashaw were driven from this area by the Iroquois during the 1650s and retreated west to Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Beginning about 1680, they began a gradual return to Indiana which was largely completed by 1710. The Wea and Piankashaw were removed to Missouri during the 1820s and in 1832 moved to the Marais des Cygnes River in eastern Kansas where they later merged with the remnants of the Illinois. In 1867 the combined tribe was forced to relocate for a final time to northeastern Oklahoma. Most of the Miami remained in Indiana until 1846 when 600 left for Kansas only to be moved to Oklahoma after the Civil War. Descendents of the Miami who remained in northern Indiana still live in their original homeland of northern Indiana.
Perhaps as many as 15,000 in 1600, the French estimated the combined population of all groups of the Miami at around 8,000 in 1717. During the next 20 years the Miami, as well as the neighboring Illinois, suffered a rapid population decline from several epidemics
the most important of which was malaria (ague) which became common in the Mississippi Valley during this period. By 1736 the Miami numbered less than 3,000. British estimates after 1763 varied between 1,800 and 2,700 depending on whether the Wea and Piankashaw were included with the Miami. The first accurate count by the Americans in 1825 gave about 1,100 Miami and Eel River, 327 Wea, and a little more than 150 Piankashaw - total of about 1,600. By 1846 the combined population of the Piankashaw, Wea, and Miami in Kansas stood close to 1,000. The Miami who had remained in Indiana (heavily intermarried) numbered between 500 and 1,500 depending on how much of the mixed-blood population was included. When their land was allotted in 1872, only 247 of the Indiana Miami chose to identify themselves as Native Americans.
The tribal status of the Indiana Miami was terminated by administration order in 1897, but the 1910 census still listed 90 Miami in Indiana. After the Passage of the Indian Reorganization Act (1934), they organized as the Miami Nation of Indians of the State of Indiana in 1937. Its 6,000 members are concentrated mainly in Allen, Huntington, and Miami counties in Indiana. Tribal offices are in Peru, but they have never succeeded in regaining federal status - the latest refusal being in 1992. The only official Miami tribe is the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma at Miami in the northeastern part of the state. There are also some descendents of the Wea and Piankashaw within the Peoria Tribe of Oklahoma in the same area. From a low point of 129 in 1909, the enrollment of the Oklahoma Miami has grown to more than 2,100.
The Miami called themselves Twightwee (Twatwa), their name for the cry of the crane and the symbol of the Atchakangouen (Miami Proper). Miami comes from their Ojibwe name, Oumami (Oumamik, Owmaweg, Omaumeg) "people of the peninsula" altered by the French and English into our familiar form of Miami (Maumee). Other names were: Naked Indians, Pkiwileni (Shawnee), Sanshkiaarunu (Wyandot "finely dressed people"), Twatwa (Tawatawa "naked"), and Wayatanoke.
Algonquin. Closely related to the language spoken by the Illinois. Both Miami and Illinois were apparently closer to Ojibwe than the dialect of their neighbors: the Fox, Sauk, Kickapoo, and Shawnee.
A loose association of six independent tribes:
Atchakangouen (Atchatchakangouen, Miami Proper), Kilatika, Mengkonkia (Mengakonia), Pepikokia, Piankashaw, and Wea (Newcalenous, Ouiatenon). By 1796 the Pepikokia had been absorbed by Piankashaw, and the divisions after this time were: Eel River, Miami, Piankashaw, and Wea.
Chicago (Wea) (IL), Chippekawkay (Piankashaw) (IN), Choppatee's Village (IN), Elkhart (Potawatomi) (IN), Kekionga (Kiskakon) (Atchakangouen) (IN), Kenapacomaqua (Wea) (IN), Kethtippecahnunk (Potawatomi-Wea) (IN), Kokomo (IN), Kowasikka (Thorntown) (IN), Le Baril (OH), Little Turtle's Village (IN-OH), Maramek (IL), Meshingomesia (IN), Milwaukee (WS), Missinquimeschan (Piankashaw) (IN), Mississinewa (IN-OH), Neconga, Ouinatenon (Wea) (IN), Osaga, Ouiatenon (Wea) (IN), Papakeecha (Flat Belly's Village, Pahedkeecha) (Piankashaw) (IN), Piankashaw (IN), Pickawillany (Pickawillanee) (OH), Seek's Village (IN), St. Francois Xavier (Mascouten) (WS), Tepicon (2) (IN), Vincennes (IN), Wepecheange, and White Raccoon's Village (Raccoon's Village) (IN).
More of an association than confederation, each of the six bands was independent of the others with its own chief. In both language and culture, the Miami closely resembled the Illinois. So much so, the French initially got them confused, even though these two peoples often were hostile to each other. More so than other Great Lakes Algonquin, the Miami appear to have retained strong links to the earlier Mississippian culture. The most noteworthy characteristic was the unusual amount of respect and ceremony accorded to their chiefs. The hereditary Miami chiefs also had religious functions, but many of these were curtailed when they failed to cope with the new European epidemics. As a result, the Midewiwin curing society became powerful during the late 1600s, and this apparently caused a leadership crisis within the Miami which lasted until the 1750s. At the same time, the Jesuit missionaries caused further divisions by the acceptance of Christianity by some of the Miami. Despite this, much of the traditional authority of Miami chiefs has been retained to the present, and it still takes a unanimous vote of the tribal council to override his decisions.
Most of their diet came from agriculture, but the Miami were noted for a unique variety of white corn which was generally regarded as superior to that of other tribes. Their summer villages, located in river valleys for the fertile soil, consisted of framed longhouses covered with rush mats. A separate, larger structure was used for councils and ceremonies. After the harvest, the village moved to the nearby prairies for a communal buffalo hunt, then separated into winter hunting camps. Among other tribes in the region, the Miami had the reputation of being slow-spoken and polite but had an inclination towards fancy dress, especially their chiefs. Tattooing was common to both sexes, and like the neighboring Illinois, there were harsh penalties for female adulterers who were either killed or had their noses cut off.
Unlike other Algonquin tribes in the Ohio Valley and western Great Lakes, the Iroquois conquest did not force all of the Miami to abandon their homeland during the 1650s. Perhaps because they were enemies of the Illinois Confederacy, the Iroquois found the Miami useful as allies, but the Wea and Piankashaw were forced to retreat west into northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Clashes with the resident Winnebago at first forced the Miami west towards the Mississippi, but shortly afterwards the Winnebago were defeated by the Fox and followed by a near annihilation at the hands of the Illinois. These defeats ended most resistance by Wisconsin's original tribes to the relocation of refugees from the east, and the Wea joined with the Mascouten to relocate farther to the northeast. The French first mentioned the Miami in 1658 when the Jesuit Relations of that year placed them (apparently a group of Wea) near Green Bay living in a mixed village with the Mascouten. However, Iroquois attacks in the area, apparently forced the Miami to relocate farther inland on the Fox River in 1660, and some groups even moving to the Mississippi River near the Illinois-Wisconsin border.
After their destruction of the Huron Confederacy in 1649, the Iroquois had pretty much blocked French access to the western Great Lakes until a peace was arranged between them in 1667 which also extended to the tribes of the western Great Lakes. This provided much-needed relief to the refugee tribes in Wisconsin and allowed the French to resume their fur trade in the west. The first recorded meeting between the Miami and Europeans occurred in 1668 when Nicolas Perrot met them at their fortified village near the headwaters of the Fox River in southern Wisconsin. Perrot made a second visit in 1670, and meanwhile the Jesuit, Father Claude-Jean Allouez, had also made contact. By 1673 the Wea had separated themselves from the Mascouten and moved south to a new village near Chicago. The Miami, however, maintained close trading ties with the French at Green Bay and provided the guides which led Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet to the Mississippi River in 1673.
There is a tendency to look upon the French exploration and fur trade in the Great Lakes as a single, united effort, but this was not really true. Competition between French traders was often as nasty as any intertribal rivalry. When Robert LaSalle attempted in 1679 to open trade with the tribes of the Illinois Confederacy living on the Illinois River, rival traders at Green Bay took advantage of the traditional animosity between the Miami and Illinois and secretly urged the Miami and Mascouten near the south end of Lake Michigan to block his access. LaSalle, however, slipped past this and managed to establish Fort Crèvecoeur on the upper Illinois in 1680. LaSalle left the trading post in the charge of Henri de Tonti and returned to Canada, but as the Illinois and other tribes concentrated in the area, the Iroquois reacted to the tendency of Illinois hunters to kill all of the young beaver in the Ohio Valley, and the peace of 1667 came to a violent end with the beginning of the second phase of the Beaver Wars (1680-1700).
The Miami also were concerned by the French trade with their Illinois enemies and allied with the Iroquois. In the fall of 1680, they joined a large Seneca war party attack on Fort Crèvecoeur and the Illinois villages. Forewarned, Tonti and the other French left the post and fled to Green Bay, but thousands of Illinois remained in the Illinois Valley and were massacred. The survivors withdrew west of the Mississippi, but, as Iroquois allies, the Miami were able to reestablish themselves in their old homeland. Until the outbreak of war with the Dakota (Sioux) in 1692, they continued to occupy the Chicago and part of the Mississippi Valley, but Allouez found Miami villages on the St. Joseph River in southern Michigan in 1680. He also discovered two groups of Mahican living near them on the upper Kankakee River in northern Indiana (later absorbed), but the Iroquois did not always appreciate the Miami's sense of hospitality.
The alliance with the Iroquois quickly soured when the Miami also allowed groups of Shawnee (Iroquois enemies) to settle among them. Threatened by their one-time allies in 1682, the Miami switched sides and allowed LaSalle to arrange a peace between them and the Illinois. Afterwards, the Miami Confederacy began to concentrate near Fort St. Louis, LaSalle's new trading post on the Illinois. The Seneca could not ignore the presence of 20,000 Algonquins trading with the French along the Illinois River and returned in force to the area in 1684. The attacks first hit the Miami villages in Indiana and then swept west into Illinois only to meet defeat by an new alliance of Miami, Illinois, and French. The Seneca failure to take Fort St. Louis in 1684 is generally regarded as the western limit of Iroquois expansion and the turning point of the Beaver Wars. The French strengthened their forts afterwards and began to provide arms to an alliance of Great Lakes Algonquin which they had created against the Iroquois. Coinciding with the King William's War (1688-97) between Britain and France, the alliance went on the offensive in 1687.
By the 1690s the Iroquois were in serious trouble and retreating back across the Great Lakes to New York. They were, however, still dangerous. Not only did marauding Iroquois war parties continue to make travel dangerous on the Illinois River for French traders, but the Seneca destroyed the Miami village near Chicago in 1687 while its warriors were absent. During their return to New York with the captured Miami women and children, the Seneca left behind a trail of half-eaten children until Miami warriors caught up and killed most of them. The manpower which eventually defeated the Iroquois was almost entirely Algonquin. The French role was largely limited to supplying arms and keeping the fragile alliance together by reconciling disputes among its members, but this was crucial. Despite the constant threat of Iroquois attack to both tribes, the traditional dislike between the Miami and Illinois was so strong that Henri Tonti was forced to give presents to both in 1685 to keep them fighting the Iroquois and not each other. By 1688 even this proved inadequate, and the Miami left the area of Fort St. Louis and returned to northern Indiana.
Following in the wake of the Iroquois retreat, by 1700 all of the Miami were "back home again in Indiana" with most of their villages concentrated along the upper Wabash and Kankakee Rivers while the Wea and Piankashaw settled on the middle and lower Wabash in the western part of the state. They had also occupied the St. Joseph River Valley in southern Michigan for a number of years but had been forced to abandon it during 1695 when it was occupied by another French ally, the Potawatomi. The King William's War between Britain and France ended in 1697 with the Treaty of Ryswick which placed the Iroquois League (without their asking) under the protection of Great Britain. In general, the French emerged from the war in good position and had no desire for another confrontation with the British over their continuing war with the Iroquois. They were receptive to the peace overtures made by the League in 1696, but, unfortunately, after years of warfare and victory within their grasp, their allies were not as ready to make peace. Besides lingering hatreds, there was the serious issue of the return of prisoners captured and adopted into the Iroquois. The French efforts to force a solution only created suspicion they would break with their allies and make a separate peace with the Iroquois.
Peace between the Iroquois and the French and Algonquin was finally arranged in 1701, just as another war broke out in Europe between Britain and France - Queen Anne's War (1701-13). The fighting spread to North America but did not really affect the Great Lakes. The Iroquois were exhausted and (except for the Mohawk) kept their promise to the French and remained neutral in the conflict. All of which should have placed the French in a dominant position if not for decisions of the French government in 1696 which had destroyed the fabric of the Algonquin alliance. Coinciding with a glut of beaver fur on the European market, the French monarchy had finally succumbed to Jesuit protests about the destructive nature of the fur trade on native societies and issued a proclamation curtailing trade in the western Great Lakes. The French governor of Canada, Louis Frontenac, delayed implementation but in the end was forced to close forts and trading posts. When the French surrendered their chief means of influence, trade goods and presents, their carefully constructed alliance came undone.
The other bad decision was that in their rush to make peace and insure Iroquois neutrality at the start of another war with Britain, the French allowed the Iroquois to retain their claim to the Ohio Valley by right of conquest during the Beaver Wars. Since the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697 had placed the League under British protection, this eventually opened the area for British claims and laid the seeds for future conflict. However, for the moment, it allowed the Iroquois to skillfully switch to trade and diplomacy to undo the French military victory. Using the lure of British traders at Albany, the Iroquois began to draw French allies like the Ottawa and Wyandot into their influence. Frontenac's stubborn resistance to the royal decree finally brought his dismissal in 1698, but his successor solved the problem in 1701 by allowing Antoine Cadillac to build Fort Pontchartrain at Detroit for trade with the tribes of the western Great Lakes.
Cadillac began by asking the Wyandot and Ottawa from Michilimackinac to settle at his new post but ended by inviting almost every tribe in the region, including the Miami. The unfortunate result was that Ottawa, Wyandot, Miami, Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Fox, Sauk, Mascouten, Kickapoo, and even Osage moved to Detroit, and the overcrowding and competition for the area's limited resources aggravated rivalries which further weakened the alliance. The French lacked enough trade goods and influence to "keep the lid on" the mess they created. The Miami established a village near Detroit in 1703 and were soon caught up in this conflict. Smallpox broke out among the Illinois in 1704 and soon spread to the Miami. Two years later the Wea were asking for French officers and missionaries to be sent to their village at Ouiatenon on the Wabash - an indication of a growing crisis within the Miami between traditional chiefs and the rising power of the Midewiwin. The French, however, lacked the resources to respond at the time.
Oddly enough, actual war between the Miami and other French allies began well to the north of the mess at Detroit. In 1706 the Wyandot and a group of Miami living near Michilimackinac attempted to prevent an Ottawa attack on the Dakota at the west end of Lake Superior by threatening to attack the Ottawa village if the warriors left. The Ottawa retaliated with an ambush that killed five Miami chiefs and drove the Miami to the protection of the French fort. Before the brief war was over 50 Miami and 30 Ottawa were dead, and the fighting had spread to Detroit. The French attempted to reconcile the parties but deliberately allowed the responsible Ottawa chief Le Pesant to escape which made the Miami furious. The tense situation escalated into open revolt in 1712 with an attack on Fort Pontchartrain by the Fox. The French were saved by their Ottawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi allies, but the Fox Wars (1712-16 and 1728-37) clearly demonstrate how far the French alliance had fallen into disarray. In the midst of the French war with the Fox, Sieur de Vincennes had to mediate a separate war that had broken out between the Miami and Peoria (Illinois).
Meanwhile, all of this turmoil in the French alliance had not escaped the attention of the Iroquois and British. To shorten the long trip required for French allies to trade with the British, the Iroquois had given permission for Albany traders to build a trading post in their homeland at Oswego in 1727. Within a year 80% of the beaver at Albany was coming from French allies in the Great Lakes. The French reaction to this competition was to encourage the Miami after 1715 to move closer to Detroit to keep them away from British traders, but the Miami moved instead in the opposite direction into southern Indiana and western Ohio. An unknown epidemic (probably malaria) began in the Mississippi Valley in 1714 and persisted until 1717 marking the beginning of a rapid decline in the Miami and Illinois populations. The constant epidemics weakened the authority of the older chiefs tied to the French alliance, and the new leadership of the Miami was interested in exploring increased trade with the British.
The French established a new network of trading posts at Michilimackinac, La Baye, Chequamegon, St. Joseph, Pimitoui, Niagara, and Fort Chartes. There were also new posts for the Miami at Forts Miamis, Ouiatenon, and Vincennes (Fort Wayne, Lafayette, and Vincennes Indiana respectively), but it was too little and too late. By the 1730s most of the Miami and Wea trade was going to the Iroquois and British at Oswego. To make matters worse, British goods were of higher quality and less expensive, so the erosion of the French trade monopoly continued in spite of their new posts. Dissatisfaction with the French goods and prices sometimes turned violent. After a brawl between a French soldier and Wea warrior at Fort Ouiatenon in 1734, the Wea attacked and plundered the entire post. Taking advantage, British and Iroquois traders began to visit Ohio and trade direct.
With the start of the King George's War (1744-48), the Miami and Wea stood beside the French, at least to the extent of continuing the war against the British-allied Chickasaw south of the Ohio. However, this relationship became increasingly strained after a British blockade of Canada cut the supply of French trade goods. By 1747 even the always-loyal Wyandot had rebelled and were trading with the British. The Miami of Chief Memeskia (La Demoiselle to the French) in western Ohio had joined the revolt and sacked another French post because there were no annual presents. The Miami and Wyandot rebels even signed a treaty at Lancaster in 1748 with Pennsylvania allowing the British to build trading posts in Ohio. Mingo, Delaware, and Shawnee (members of the Iroquois covenant chain) had settled in Ohio and were defying French claims to the area. The French were in grave danger of losing, not only Ohio, but the entire Great Lakes.
British traders established a post at Memeskia's village at Pickawillany (Piqua, Ohio). After he had signed the Lancaster treaty, Memeskia became known to them as "Old Britain" and began inviting tribes from as far west as Illinois to visit his village for trade with the British. By 1751 even the Illinois, normally devoted to the French, were conspiring in an attempt to break the French trade monopoly. However, the Piankashaw response to the Illinois overtures was to launch an attack on the Kaskaskia. French demands to La Demoiselle to expel the British traders were ignored, so the French decided on force. The problem was the Detroit tribes were reluctant to attack the Ohio tribes trading with the British. In desperation, the French organized a war party of 250 Michilimackinac Ottawa and Ojibwe under the command of the Métis, Charles Langlade and in June, 1752 destroyed Pickawillany. "Old Britain" was killed and eaten by the Ottawa, and the other French allies trading with the British were quick to "digest" the message.
If the Miami had any thoughts of avenging Memeskia, they put them aside when they were attacked by the Fox later that year. The French followed their attack on Pickawillany by lowering prices and increasing their supply of trade goods. The rebellion began to collapse, and in the fall the Wyandot renewed attacks on the Chickasaw as part of the alliance. The following July, the Miami, Potawatomi, and Sauk apologized to the French, rejoined the alliance, and returned the Iroquois wampum belt they had accepted at the Treaty of Lancaster in 1748. With their allies falling into line, the French began to build a line of new forts across western Pennsylvania to isolate Ohio from British traders. Unfortunately, both Virginia and Pennsylvania also claimed Ohio, and a demand brought in 1754 by Virginia militia major George Washington to halt the construction and abandon these forts ended in a fight with French soldiers which started the last French and British war for North America, the French and Indian War (1755-63).
The Miami were French allies during the war but not especially active in the fighting. They even tried to make peace with the British through a treaty signed with Pennsylvania trader George Croghan in 1757, but after raids by the Shawnee and Delaware against the frontier, this was rejected by the Virginia legislature. Other French allies brought smallpox back to the Ohio Valley from Fort William Henry in New York that fall, and the resulting epidemic spread throughout the Great Lakes taking its toll on the Miami. The French defeat became almost certain after the fall of Quebec in September, 1759, and British troops occupied most of the French forts including Vincennes, Miamis, and Ouiatenon in Indiana the following year. Perhaps anticipating a renewal of British trade, the Miami made no effort to oppose the takeover, but things had changed. No longer forced to compete with the French, the British ended annual presents to chiefs and placed high prices on their trade goods restricting the supply, especially gunpowder.
Over the years, the tribes had become dependent on these items for survival, and tribal chiefs distributed the annual presents they received to their tribesmen in a show of generosity designed to reinforce their authority. For obvious reasons, the reaction to this British stinginess was severe. An attempt by the Seneca in 1761 to lead an uprising failed when it was discovered by the British during a Detroit meeting with the tribes of the old French alliance. Meanwhile, the British had assumed the French role of mediating intertribal disputes and prevented a war between the Miami, Ottawa, and Potawatomi over western Ohio. There were crop failures and sickness in the Ohio Valley during 1762, and the unrest grew. Many of the Miami accepted the teachings of Neolin, the Delaware Prophet, but they interpreted his message in a gentle way. Perhaps they remembered the British had ended their dispute with the Shawnee when they joined the Pontiac Rebellion against the British in 1763. More likely, they had serious doubts about the chances of Pontiac's success, and after they captured Fort Ouiatenon, the Miami were very careful to insure that no harm befell their British prisoners.
Pontiac failed to take Detroit and, threatened by his own people, abandoned his village and retreated west. The Miami allowed him to settle in northern Indiana but were urging all the while that he come to terms with the British. After meetings at Detroit and Ouiatenon, Pontiac made peace at Detroit in 1765 followed by a second agreement at Fort Oswego (New York) in 1766. However, Pontiac's peace did not extend to his more militant followers. The Kickapoo attacked a British expedition sent to take control of the Illinois country in 1765 but in the process killed three Shawnee chiefs who were part of its escort. The Kickapoo still hated the British, but they did not want a war with the Shawnee and used the Miami to ask the British to mediate and "cover the dead."
Stunned by the scale of the native revolt which captured six of nine forts in the region, the British took measures to end the discontent. Trade goods were restored to previous levels, and the Proclamation of 1763 issued stopping further settlement west of the Appalachians. Feelings were still strong against the British, and Pontiac himself fell victim to these in 1769 when, after an argument, he was murdered by a Peoria at Cahokia (Illinois). Pontiac may have fallen into some disrepute because of his dealings with the British, but he still commanded considerable loyalty within the old French alliance. The Potawatomi, Ojibwe, Ottawa, Winnebago, Fox, Sauk, Kickapoo, and Mascouten all united against the Illinois to avenge his death, and the resulting genocidal war almost destroyed the Illinois. The Miami, however, had made their peace earlier with the Illinois and took no part in this. In the shift of tribal territories following the Pontiac Rebellion, the only change made by the Miami was when the eastern groups abandoned western Ohio to the Shawnee and moved to Indiana.
The Kickapoo occupied much of central Illinois and the lower Wabash Valley after the destruction of the Illinois, and with the Piankashaw and Wea formed a loose, anti-British coalition known as the Wabash tribes. The rest of the Miami, however, were more attached with the Wyandot, Ottawa, and Potawatomi who lived near Detroit. The period of peace after the Pontiac Rebellion was very brief. Within a few years, the British were under heavy pressure from their colonies to rescind the 1763 proclamation and open the Ohio Valley to settlement. American frontiersmen were simply moving in and squatting in defiance of the law. The British could not stop this, but their most serious opposition came from wealthy colonists heavily invested in the Ohio lands claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia. Virginia had chartered the Ohio Company in 1749 with a grant of 500,000 acres. Its investors included, among others, Lawrence Washington whose interest upon his death in 1752 passed to his younger half-brother George.
Threatened with revolt, Sir William Johnson, the British Indian agent for North America (also a land speculator), met with the Iroquois at Fort Stanwix (New York) in 1768 and got them to agree to cede Ohio in order to protect their own homeland. Further treaties were made with the Cherokee in 1774 to extinguish their claims to Kentucky and West Virginia, but no one bothered to consult the Shawnee, Mingo, and Delaware who actually lived there. Their protests to the Iroquois League ignored, the Shawnee made overtures to the Miami, Piankashaw, Wea, Illinois, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Wyandot, Ottawa, Delaware, Mascouten, Ojibwe, Cherokee, and Chickasaw. Meetings were held at the Shawnee villages in 1770 and 1771, but Johnson was able to thwart the formation of an alliance. Meanwhile, the Delaware made plans to leave the disputed area, and in 1770 obtained permission from the Piankashaw to settle in southern Indiana leaving the Shawnee and Mingo to fight the invasion by themselves.
As settlers moved into the area, there were confrontations. After clashes between Virginia surveyors and Shawnee in Kentucky during 1773, frontier vigilantes massacred groups of Shawnee and Mingo near Wheeling, West Virginia, and native retaliation started Lord Dunmore's War (1774). The Shawnee asked the other Ohio Valley tribes for help, but William Johnson kept the Miami, Wyandot, and Detroit tribes out with threats the Iroquois would enter the war on the side of the British. He also prevented the Wabash tribes from helping the Shawnee by invalidating the claims of the Wabash Company to the lower Wabash. The Delaware also chose to remain neutral, and the Shawnee and Mingo were defeated after a furious battle at Point Pleasant (West Virginia) in 1774 and later forced to sign a peace renouncing all their claims to Kentucky.
By the time the Revolutionary War (1775-83) started the following year, American frontiersmen were pouring into Kentucky and western Pennsylvania. The British were well aware one of the main causes of the revolution was the American demand for the Ohio Valley, so they withdrew their garrisons to Detroit and began urging the Ohio tribes to attack the new settlements. Most at first, including the Miami, chose to remain neutral, but the British were successful with the Detroit tribes, Ojibwe, St. Joseph Potawatomi, Chickamauga (Cherokee), Mingo, and part of the Shawnee. Armed by the British, the Chickamauga attacked the Tennessee frontier in 1776 while the Shawnee struck Kentucky. The raids and reprisals by "civilian war parties" quickly grew into a brutal, all-out war between red and white in the Ohio Valley. Ironically, by 1778 the British and Iroquois were both encouraging a war which was the natural result of their self-serving agreement at Fort Stanwix ten-years before.
In the midst of this, the Americans became aware the British had withdrawn, or greatly reduced, their garrisons in the Illinois country. George Rogers Clark, Kentucky land speculator and militia leader, passed this information to Virginia governor Patrick Henry and in January, 1778 received orders to raise a small army to capture it. Clark left Kentucky in May with 200 men and, after winning the allegiance of the French settlers by pointing out that France and the United States were allies, took the British forts at Vincennes (Fort Sackville) and Kaskaskia in August. The British reacted to the loss of the Illinois Country and, with the help of the Detroit tribes, re-occupied Fort Sackville in December. The French at Vincennes switched sides, but Clark recaptured Fort Sackville after a daring mid-winter march across southern Illinois from Kaskaskia achieved complete surprise. Following a brief siege, the British surrendered in February, 1779.
Perhaps thinking the American conquest would restore French rule, the Piankashaw and other Wabash tribes (who had avoided the British since the Pontiac Rebellion) welcomed the Americans and even offered to help Clark retake Vincennes and attack Detroit. Even the Miami, who so far had been mostly neutral in the war, were willing to cooperate. Clark may have been a diplomat winning over the French in Illinois, but he was a warrior when it came to Native Americans. Like most of the Kentucky frontiersmen, he simply hated them, and this became very apparent when he spurned the Piankashaw and Kickapoo offer of assistance and massacred the British native allies taken prisoner at Fort Sackville. If the Miami had any thoughts of joining the Americans, they ended with Clark's insults and heavy-handed brutality. Rather than securing the Ohio Valley for the United States, Clark's victories actually escalated the war west of the Appalachians. By the beginning of 1780, the British were planning a major offensive to seize the entire Mississippi Basin.
In April an expedition left Detroit to attack Kentucky with 600 warriors. Picking up strength from the Miami and Shawnee in western Ohio, it had doubled in size when it reached the Ohio River. During the next three months, it brought unprecedented waves of death and destruction throughout Kentucky before returning to Ohio with 350 American prisoners, mostly women and children. Meanwhile, Spain had entered the war against Great Britain, and the British attacked St. Louis in May with a force of 1,000 Fox, Sauk, Potawatomi, Menominee, and Winnebago. St. Louis held with heavy losses, but the British burned Cahokia before leaving. Clark retaliated by attacking the Shawnee villages on the Mad River in western Ohio in August, and in February, 1781 Spanish soldiers burned the British fort at St. Joseph, Michigan. The Delaware, who had been American allies, joined the British after Daniel Brodhead's Pennsylvania militia destroyed their capital at Coshocton, Ohio. By 1782 no tribe was neutral in the Ohio Valley, and despite the efforts of the French at Vincennes to keep them out, even the Wabash tribes and Peoria (Illinois) had joined the fight against the Americans.
Throughout 1782, the British agent at Detroit, Simon De Peyster, urged the tribes to form an alliance, and to this end, he had mediated disputes between the Miami and Potawatomi and the Ojibwe and Winnebago, Fox, Sauk, and Menominee. The Revolutionary War ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, and George Rogers Clark's victories in Ohio and Illinois had extended the United States border to the Mississippi. The British, however, had made no provision in the treaty to protect their native allies, and this allowed the Americans to treat them as "conquered enemies." The Ohio tribes had never been defeated, but the Iroquois had almost been destroyed in 1779. Retaliating for earlier raids in New York and Pennsylvania, three American armies had invaded the Iroquois homeland and burned 40 villages forcing them to flee to Canada. Immediately after the war, American negotiators, as a condition of peace at the second Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1784), forced the Iroquois to cede much of their New York homeland and reconfirm their Ohio cessions in 1768.
The Mohawk of Joseph Brant were conspicuous by their absence at the Fort Stanwix, and remaining in Canada, they were still hostile to the United States. The previous year, De Peyster had brought Brant west for a meeting of the Ohio tribes at Sandusky, and his influence was instrumental in the creation of the formal alliance the British had wanted. Its first council fire was at the Shawnee village of Wakatomica but was moved to Brownstown (south of Detroit) after Wakatomica was burned by the Americans in 1787. Officially, the British told their former allies to cease attacks on American settlements, but they made it quite clear they would be willing to support th with trade and arms against the Americans. Meanwhile, the British used the American failure to pay the claims of British loyalists (Tories) as an excuse to continue to occupy forts on American territory in defiance of the Treaty of Paris.
Despite the ominous signs, there was a lull in the fighting after 1783 during which 12,000 frontiersmen poured across the Ohio River to squat on native lands. Short of civil war, there was little the American military commander, Colonel Josiah Harmar, could do to prevent this. To pay Revolutionary War debts, Congress had already sold land rights to the Ohio Company and John Symmes representing a New Jersey syndicate. The squatters were paying nothing for the lands they were taking, but they hated Native Americans and could very easily start a war. Since it was obvious the Ohio tribes no longer recognized the authority of the Iroquois, the United States needed to reach an agreement with them over its claim to Ohio. Unfortunately, Americans viewed the western alliance as a British plot (true in many ways), and decided they would only negotiate with the individual tribes.
The Treaty of Fort McIntosh (1785) signed with the Wyandot, Delaware, and the Detroit Ottawa, and Ojibwe agreed to the Muskingum River as the frontier between settlement and native lands. A similar agreement was signed the following year with the Shawnee at Fort Finney (Greater Miami Treaty) (1786). The chiefs who signed these treaties, however, did not represent the alliance or sometimes the majority of their own tribes, many of whom were willing to fight for the Ohio River, not the Muskingum, as the boundary. On the other side, the American negotiators signed for a weak government in Philadelphia which could not control the frontiersmen who would not be satisfied until they had the entire Ohio Valley. Treaties and diplomacy soon gave way to violence. The Miami village of Ouiatenon became a important staging point for raids into Kentucky forcing its French inhabitants to evacuate.
At the beginning of 1786, there were 400 American settlers scattered among the French population on the lower Wabash River at Vincennes. In keeping with a long-standing tradition of the frontier economy, they raised corn and converted much of it into whiskey which was sold to anyone willing to pay - including the Piankashaw, Wea, and Kickapoo in the vicinity. After several confrontations over this trade, a war party of 400 to 700 Miami (Wea) arrived in Vincennes and told the French they had come to kill the Americans. The French stalled, and the Americans moved into their forts and sent to Kentucky for help. This was the perfect opportunity for George Rogers Clark, who had been petitioning Congress since 1783 for a war against the Ohio tribes and had volunteered to lead it. Clark arrived at Vincennes in the fall with some hastily recruited Kentucky militia, half of whom immediately deserted when there was no fighting, but Clark kept the others together and sent an expedition to Kaskaskia (Illinois) to arrest a British trader and three Frenchmen as a Spanish agents. Cooler heads prevailed, however, and just as Clark was about to start a major war, Colonel Harmar ordered him to disband and go home.
Many members of the alliance chose to fight American encroachment in 1786 by attacking the settlements north of the Ohio River. At their council that fall, Joseph Brant made a speech which convinced the alliance to demand the Ohio as a boundary. Moderates, however, were able to gain agreement for a temporary truce to allow time for its demands to reach Congress. If there was no reply, raids would resume in the spring. Their timing could not have been worse. The Americans were in the process of recreating their government under a new Constitution, so there was not time for a "minor matter" like peace in Ohio. Congress did not receive the message until July, and the raids had already resumed. During the summer, Benjamin Logan's Kentucky militia retaliated by attacking and burning the Shawnee villages in western Ohio.
The American governor, Arthur St. Clair, made a final attempt to resolve the dispute and in December, 1787 asked the alliance for a conference at Fort Harmar on the falls of Muskingum. The council agreed to meet and decided to settle for the Muskingum as the border, but there was serious disagreement to this decision. Joseph Brant demanded the repudiation of all treaties ceding any part of Ohio and left the meeting in disgust to return to Ontario. The Miami, Kickapoo, and Shawnee were also opposed, but the Wyandot convinced the Delaware and Detroit tribes to attend. With half of the alliance determined to ignore any agreement, the period preceding the peace conference was anything but peaceful. In July Fort Harmar soldiers building the council house for the meeting were attacked by an Ottawa-Ojibwe war party. The Kickapoo ambushed an army convoy bringing supplies to Vincennes at the mouth of the Wabash, and the Miami killed land speculator, John Symmes, while he was exploring the upper Miami River.
The Fort Harmar Treaty (January, 1789) ceded all of Ohio east of Muskingum but was worthless as soon as it was signed. Although the Wabash tribes attempted to make a separate peace with the Americans, they were attacked in the summer of 1789 by Patrick Brown's Kentuckians. The Piankashaw and Vermilion Kickapoo moved west afterwards and got even by raiding American settlements in Illinois. With the Wea, Piankashaw, and Kickapoo on the Wabash River deferring to the leadership of the Miami war chief Michikinikwa (Mischecanocquah "Little Turtle"), militant factions of the Miami and Shawnee established a consensus within the alliance favoring war, and the last hope of a peaceful solution was lost. Realizing the militants had taken control of the alliance, the Americans decided to resolve ownership of Ohio through force. Treaties having failed, they had no other choice - the United States needed the land!
Few Americans realize today, how crucial the conquest of the Ohio Valley was for the survival of the United States in 1790. Enormous Revolutionary War debts made its currency worthless, the new nation was in danger of economic collapse unless these could be paid though the sale of Ohio land. The situation was so critical that a normally ineffective Congress put aside its differences long enough to pass the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 - its only real accomplishment under the Articles of Confederation (established how settlements were organized into territories and subsequently admitted as states). Taking Ohio was also a factor in the American decision to replace the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution. The new central government was then able to create the United States army whose main purpose during its first 100 years was to fight Indians.
Nor was it accidental that the first president was George Washington, a man thrust into history by his efforts to make good on his claims to land in Ohio. After inheriting his half-brother Lawrence's interest in the Ohio Company in 1752, Washington's attempts to force the French out of Ohio started the French and Indian War (the first worldwide conflict), but he ultimately added to his original holdings with grants for service in the Virginia militia during the conflict. The Proclamation of 1763 made his titles worthless, so it is obvious why Washington chose the rebel side in the Revolution. Ineffectual government, afterwards, denied him the fruits of victory after 1783, so Washington took a leading role in writing the new constitution and, as president, directed a war which finally took Ohio. When he died in 1799, George Washington owned 63,000 acres of land. Mount Vernon, his personal estate on the Potomac was large, but the majority of his land was west of the Appalachians in the Ohio Valley.
So the stage was set for Little Turtle's War (1790-94), with both sides facing a situation from which they could neither retreat nor compromise. Meanwhile, the British were gleefully sitting in their forts and supporting the western alliance to keep the Americans out of Ohio. Their aid to the Ohio tribes was entirely self-serving and had nothing to do with defending Native American claims to their land, since the British had never admitted there was such a thing. Despite their protests of needing a native buffer to protect Upper Canada from American expansion or the American failure to pay the Loyalist claims, the British were perfectly aware of the American dilemma, and there is little doubt they fully intended to recover through an economic collapse what they had lost through force of arms during the Revolutionary War.
However, to take Ohio, the Americans first had to create an army, since they had not had one since 1783. All that was immediately available were state militia of questionable leadership and reliability. The new president was too impatient to allow the time needed for this, or perhaps he underestimated his enemy. The alliance was well-armed by the British and could muster 2,000 warriors when required. This made them formidable enough, but they were led by the Miami war chief Little Turtle, the son of a Miami father and Mahican mother, who turned out to be something of a military genius adept in the tactics of allowing an enemy to advance until exposed and vulnerable. The initial American efforts to take Ohio were disasters. Washington ordered Josiah Harmar - a revolutionary soldier known better for his hard-drinking than his skills as an Indian fighter - to destroy the Miami villages on the upper Wabash. On October 22nd, Little Turtle caught Harmar's 300 regulars and 1,200 militia fording the Wabash near present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana and sent them back to Fort Washington at Cincinnati with over 200 casualties.
In November Major John Hamtramck attacked the Wabash villages, but this was small compensation for Harmar's debacle. Washington was accustomed to adversity, and after Harmar resigned in March, 1791, he commissioned Arthur St. Clair a major general and commander of the American forces in Ohio with specific instructions to be careful of "surprise." St. Clair, however, was disliked in Kentucky and had trouble recruiting an army. He eventually assembled 2,000 militia at Fort Hamilton (just north of Cincinnati) and moved north in the fall. Despite Washington's warnings, St. Clair was surprised on November 4th near the future site of Fort Recovery, Ohio and almost overrun by Little Turtle's early morning assault of 1,200 warriors. The confused retreat degenerated into a complete rout with the soldiers abandoning their weapons and wounded. The alliance lost 56 warriors in the greatest Native American victory over an American army, while St. Clair lost over 600 killed and 400 wounded from a total force of 2,000. The mouths of the American dead were found later filled with dirt, the only piece of Ohio they would ever get.
When the news reached Washington, he went into a rage. St. Clair resigned from the Army but remained as governor of the Northwest Territory. The Americans could not afford to lose, and when Washington calmed down, he sent "Mad Anthony" Wayne to Ohio. Wayne was neither mad nor rash, but a deliberate and methodical man who soon proved to the alliance that he was going to a more serious threat than his predecessors. Wayne spent almost two years training his "Legion," a large group of disciplined regulars to back the skittish militia. Meanwhile, he began building an extensive supply system of roads and forts aimed directly at the Maumee River villages (Toledo, Ohio) which were the heart of the alliance. The Miami watched his careful preparations and began to call him "Blacksnake," because like the blacksnake (who they considered the wisest of all snakes), Wayne sat quietly and waited for the right moment to strike.
While Wayne prepared, the Americans (worried a military confrontation could lead to war with the British) continued efforts to negotiate a settlement. The Iroquois attempted to mediate the dispute in 1792, but after Little Turtle's easy victories the previous two years, the alliance was in no mood for compromise. Calling the Iroquois "coward red men," they threw the American proposal in the fire, and the representatives of the once powerful Iroquois League were fortunate to leave the meeting with their lives. Two other American peace commissioners, John Hardin and Alexander Trueman, were not so lucky and were murdered by the Shawnee enroute to a conference. The Americans kept trying and in the fall, the council met at Auglaize (Defiance, Ohio) to consider its position for another meeting with the Americans that coming summer. Joseph Brant and the British continued to encourage resistance, but Little Turtle was beginning to have doubts about facing Wayne.
Following the alliance's victories in 1790 and 1791, raids had continued against the settlements, but the "Black Snake" had kept his army intact and refused to scatter it across the frontier in small garrisons. Meanwhile, the alliance was coming undone. An American attack on the Wabash tribes in 1791 had captured a large number of women and children, and the following year the Wea, Piankashaw, and Kickapoo had made peace to get them back. With the Wabash tribes neutral, the Fox and Sauk left the alliance in 1792 because there was not enough food to feed them. Unlike the year before, the American delegation for the peace conference in 1793 arrived safely, mainly because it included Hendrick Aupamut, a Stockbridge Indian with many relatives among the Delaware. The meeting reached an impasse in July and ended without any resolution. In October Wayne received orders to begin his advance into Ohio.
Little Turtle ambushed one of Wayne's supply columns near Ludlow Spring, Ohio, but Wayne was still able to establish himself for the winter at Fort Greenville 80 miles north of Cincinnati. In the spring, the British responded to Wayne's move north by building Fort Miami at the falls of the Maumee River. Many of the alliance tribes took this as a sign of support, but it was a bluff. The British had already decided to reach an accommodation with the Americans rather than risk war. Wayne ignored the new British fort and resumed his advance in July supporting it with a chain of forts extending north from Fort Greenville. Alliance warriors attacked Fort Recovery but failed to capture it. On August 13th, a war council was held on banks of the Maumee. Only the Shawnee, Miami, and Wyandot favored continuing the war. Lacking a consensus, the council asked Joseph Brant to negotiate a truce with the Americans, but he refused and sided with the militants. With reluctance, the alliance decided to fight.
Little Turtle, however, had been among those urging caution and negotiation. Called a coward in the course of the debate, the man who had given the alliance its greatest victories was replaced on the eve of battle. His replacement was the Shawnee war chief, Bluejacket, not the mythical Ottawa Turkey Foot of some accounts. Little Turtle accepted his demotion with grace and continued to support the alliance as the Miami war chief. Estimates of how many warriors Bluejacket actually had when he faced Wayne a week later at Fallen Timbers varies from 700 to 2,000. The hard-fought battle was not really significant from the standpoint of casualties, or the tribes involved, as by what happened afterwards. Driven from the field, the retreating warriors saw the British at Fort Miami close their gates to them rather than risk a fight with the Americans.
Wayne spent the next three days destroying crops and villages in the area and, after marching his Legion to the gates of the British fort, turned around and returned to Fort Defiance on the Auglaize. A month later, he moved into northeastern Indiana, destroyed the Miami villages on the upper Maumee, and built Fort Wayne. Having insured a hungry winter for the alliance, the "Blacksnake" returned to Fort Greenville and waited. In November the Jay Treaty was signed between Great Britain and the United States in which the British, among other things, agreed to finally leave their forts on American territory. Defeated and abandoned by their British allies, the alliance had no choice but to come to terms with the Americans and make peace. In August, 1795 the alliance chiefs signed the Treaty of Fort Greenville ceding all of Ohio except the northwestern part and some of southeastern Indiana. The last battle of the American Revolution was over, and settlers poured into the new lands. Kentucky became a state in 1792 Tennessee in 1796 and Ohio in 1803.
Little Turtle and the Miami had symbolically been the last to sign at the treaty at Greenville and afterwards settled on the upper Wabash southwest of Fort Wayne. Little Turtle established his village on the Eel River, and, as was often the case when dangerous enemies had been defeated, the Americans lionized him. He was given a large house and invited to visit the president. Washington presented him with a sword, and Little Turtle so valued this he was buried with it. Little Turtle reciprocated to all of this adulation by becoming the Miami "peace chief," and as the most prominent former enemy, he became the most prominent peace chief and a strong force supporting the Greenville Treaty and accommodation with the Americans. His opposition, or rather lack of support, was an important reason for the failure of Bluejacket's attempt to bring back the alliance in 1801.
Little Turtle introduced smallpox vaccination among the Miami by allowing his family and himself to be vaccinated first, but his efforts to stop the spread of alcoholism among the Miami failed. The extent of the problem is apparent from Indian Bureau records in which the agent reported in 1847 that, of 286 Miami in Kansas, 165 were "inebriates." Alcohol was a major problem on the frontier for both red and white because it was so widely available. Rather than a conscious plan to destroy Native Americans, "moonshine" was a traditional product of a frontier economy short on cash and lacking the roads needed to move crops to eastern markets. Excess grain was converted into whiskey which was easier to transport, and when the new federal government tried to limit production with taxes, the result was the Whiskey Rebellion during which President George Washington was forced to personally lead troops in 1794 to restore order in western Pennsylvania.
After 1795 the Delaware and some Shawnee left Ohio and settled with Miami permission along the White River in east-central Indiana. While American squatters continued to encroach on native lands beyond the Greenville Treaty line, William Henry Harrison, governor of the Northwest Territory, pressed the peace chiefs to cede more land for settlement. His work was made all the easier by the debts (often for whiskey) which the tribes accumulated with American traders. Needing money to pay these, they sold land, and in a vicious cycle, some of the money received was used to buy more whiskey leading to more debts. After the Kaskaskia (Illinois) ceded most of southern Illinois in 1803, the Piankashaw and Wea also ceded their claims to the area in a treaty signed at Vincennes the following year. Beyond the original 11.8 million acres of Ohio ceded in 1795 at Greenville, within ten years Harrison and other American negotiators had added more than 21 million acres. Especially annoying to the Miami was the selling by the Delaware of some of the Miami's land in southern Indiana.
Utilizing the traditional authority accorded to Miami chiefs, Little Turtle squashed most of the dissent, and the matter was finally resolved by treaties which compensated the Miami for their loss. The land sales added to an already volatile atmosphere of social disintegration fueled by defeat and alcoholism in which peace chiefs were often murdered by their own people. After receiving a religious vision in 1805, Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet, began preaching a return to the traditional native values and a rejection of the white man's trade goods, especially whiskey. This in itself would have been good, but Tenskwatawa's brother Tecumshe added a political element of no additional sales of tribal lands placing the religious movement in direct opposition to the peace chiefs and the Americans.
In the spring of 1806, the Prophet's movement got an uneasy start when a series of witch-hunts by his followers in the Delaware and Wyandot villages turned most of these important members of the old alliance against him. However, his reputation grew after he predicted a solar eclipse that summer. Thousands of new followers visited his village, defiantly located on the grounds of deserted Fort Greenville, but with the active opposition of the older peace chiefs (especially Little Turtle), the strongest support for Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh came from the western tribes of the Ohio Valley. The Miami were interested, but Little Turtle's influence over his people kept them away. Tecumseh decided to ignore the peace chiefs and build his own alliance. In May, 1808 Tenskwatawa abandoned Greenville and relocated his capital, with the permission of the Kickapoo and Potawatomi, to Prophetstown on Tippecanoe Creek in western Indiana. The new location was no accident and was intended as a challenge to Little Turtle who lived nearby. In June Tecumseh visited Canada and secured promises of British aid in case of war with the Americans.
Ignoring Tecumseh's demand to stop all land cessions, the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Shawnee, and Kaskaskia peace chiefs in September, 1809 sold 3,000,000 acres of southern Indiana and Illinois to the United States at Fort Wayne. Tecumseh was furious, refused to accept the treaty, and threatened the chiefs who signed it with death. In June his Wyandot followers executed the Wyandot chief Leatherlips and brought the calumet and wampum of the old alliance to Prophetstown. The reaction of Little Turtle and the peace chiefs meeting at Brownstown was to condemn the Prophet as a witch. In August Tecumseh met Harrison at Vincennes to protest the Fort Wayne treaty, but the exchange of harsh words almost resulted in a battle. Tecumseh and Harrison met the following summer but accomplished nothing. Afterwards, Tecumseh went south in the fall of 1811 to recruit the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Cherokee to his cause.
During his absence, the Potawatomi attacked American settlements in southern Illinois bringing the frontier to the point of war. Harrison raised an army at Vincennes and, after building Fort Harrison on the treaty line near Terre Haute, marched on Prophetstown in November. Disregarding Tecumseh's instructions to avoid a fight with the Americans while he was gone, Tenskwatawa ordered an attack on Harrison's camp. The Battle of Tippecanoe followed. The Prophet's warriors were finally forced to withdraw, the Americans burned Prophetstown. The defeat was significant, not so much in military terms, but for destroying Tenskwatawa's reputation as a prophet. When Tecumseh returned in January, his hard-won alliance of 3,000 warriors to stop American expansion had fallen apart. By the time war was declared between the United States and Great Britain in June, 1812, Tecumseh had only managed to regain one-third of his original following.
In May Tecumseh met with the alliance chiefs on the Mississinewa River near present-day Peru, Indiana. Little Turtle had grown sick and old by this time, but because of his opposition to Tecumseh, few Miami warriors joined the British. His attitude was shared by Black Hoof's Shawnee, Tahre's Wyandot, and Captain William Anderson's Delaware. Despite this, Tecumseh still had enough followers to raise havoc at the onset of the war. Michilimackinac was captured in July, and the American garrison abandoned Fort Dearborn (Chicago) but was massacred enroute to Detroit. Detroit surrendered in August after the Wyandot at Brownstown joined Tecumseh who was helping with the British siege of the fort. More forts fell or were abandoned, and raids struck American settlements the entire frontier west to Missouri. During a visit to Fort Wayne in July, Little Turtle died at age 70. Without his influence, most of the Miami promptly went over to Tecumseh and sent a war belt to the Delaware asking them to join them. The Delaware, however, chose to remain neutral.
The only bright note for the Americans was in September when the Prophet and his warriors failed to take Fort Harrison defended by Zachary Taylor and 50 regulars. Otherwise, disaster followed disaster. William Henry Harrison was given command of American forces in the Northwest and began to turn the tide. One his first actions was to attack the Miami villages on the Mississinewa to keep them from giving aid to Tecumseh. The Prophet was forced to abandon Prophetstown for a second time and retreated into Canada. In January, 1813 Harrison relocated the Delaware from Indiana to the Shawnee villages at Piqua, Ohio for their "safety." Then he moved his army to the upper Sandusky River in northwest Ohio and built Fort Meigs to protect the American settlements farther south. Two attempts by Tecumseh and the British to take Fort Meigs failed that summer, and after Oliver Perry's naval victory on Lake Erie, Harrison began his advance on Detroit. British resistance crumbled. Detroit fell without a struggle, and Tecumseh was killed at the Battle of the Thames in October while covering the British retreat across southern Ontario.
For the most part, native resistance ended with the death of Tecumseh. At the Second Treaty of Greenville (July, 1814), Harrison and the loyal chiefs of the Delaware, Seneca, Shawnee, and Wyandot officially ended hostilities with the Kickapoo, Miami, Ottawa and Potawatomi who had fought for Tecumseh and the British. A separate treaty was signed with the Piankashaw at Portage des Sioux just north of St. Louis a year later. Some of Tecumseh's followers remained in Ontario after the war but, after making peace at Spring Wells (September, 1815), returned to the United States. The War of 1812 ended in a draw between Britain and the United States, but the tribes of the Old Northwest had been decisively defeated. The Americans knew this and were quick to take advantage. After Indiana entered the union as the 19th state in 1816, pressure increased to extinguish the remaining native claims.
The first step was a treaty signed at Fort Harrison in 1816 with the Wea and Kickapoo confirming earlier cessions, but the major losses came two years later. In January, 1818 the Piankashaw confirmed previous treaties and ceded all of their land except for a two square mile (1280 acre) reservation on the Wabash. In October a series of treaties were concluded at St. Marys with the Indiana tribes, with the Delaware ceding all their land in Indiana and agreeing to move to Missouri. In their treaty, the Miami and Wea relinquished almost six million acres to the United States but kept seven reserves totalling almost a million acres in the northern part of the state. At the same time, nineteen Miami chiefs acquired separate sections of land in fee simple. By 1820 the Wea had signed a treaty at Vincennes ceding their Indiana land from the 1818 St. Marys Treaty and agreed to remove to Missouri. The actual move took several years with the last groups of Piankashaw not leaving Illinois until 1828, and some Wea remaining in Indiana until 1832. Ultimately, 150 Piankashaw and 330 Wea were settled on 160,000 acres in southwest Missouri near the Delaware and Kickapoo.
In general, these peoples had usually gotten along, but unfortunately, there was a serious dispute about the murder of six Delaware by Miami warriors in a separate incidents stretching back to 1809. The Delaware demanded payment, but the Miami reminded the Delaware they had allowed them to settle in Indiana after the Fort Greenville Treaty in 1795 (and even sell some of it in 1803) and offered only $500 to "cover the dead." The Delaware took this as an insult, and war between these old friends was averted only when the government intervened in 1827. The matter remained a sore spot between them, but in 1829 the Delaware sold their Missouri lands and moved to a new reserve in eastern Kansas north of the Shawnee. The Wea and Piankashaw followed suit in a treaty signed at Castor Hill (St. Louis) in 1832, but their new lands were south of the Shawnee, and over the years the dispute and near-war was slowly forgotten.
Meanwhile, the Miami lands in Indiana were being lost to treaties, debts, and taxes. Treaties signed in 1826, 1828, and 1838 took portions of their reserves until the final treaty signed at the Forks of the Wabash in 1840 ceded the last 177,000 acres of the big reserve for $550,000 - $325,000 of which was used to pay debts. Except for Meshingomesia's band - whose chief owned the land in fee simple - the Miami agreed to remove to Kansas within five years. On October 7, 1846, 555 Miami left Indiana by canal boat and were settled at the approach of winter along the Marais des Cygnes River in eastern Kansas on land adjoining the Piankashaw, Wea, and Peoria. The 500 to 1,500 Miami who remained in Indiana were heavily intermarried with whites so estimates of their number are difficult. The lands of Meshingomesia's band were divided among the 300 survivors in 1872 and soon lost to land speculators and tax sales. In 1897 the assistant U.S. attorney general terminated the tribal status of the Indian Miami. No explanation for this action was ever given.
Throughout the 1840s, approximately 1,000 Miami lived in eastern Kansas. By 1854 the Wea and Piankashaw had decided to form a single tribe with the 300 Kaskaskia and Peoria which were all that remained of the once-numerous Illinois Confederation. The United States, however, was anxious to open Kansas for settlement to facilitate construction of a transcontinental railroad and wanted to purchase native lands. In June 1854 at Washington, D.C., the Miami and combined Peoria-Miami tribe ceded more than 500,000 acres in exchange for 200 acre individual allotments plus ten sections to be held in common, but no offer of citizenship was made in return for the acceptance of allotment. White settlers flooded into Kansas to determine the question of black slavery with violence, and native lands were fair game for the heavily-armed squatters. The outbreak of the Civil War brought thousands of native refugees to Kansas fleeing the violence in Oklahoma. In the midst of this, Kansas became a state in 1862, and the following year, its legislature asked the federal government to remove Native Americans.
Action on this request had to await the end of the war, but in an omnibus treaty signed in 1867, the Miami and the United Peoria and Miami Tribe (merged group of Peoria, Wea, and Piankashaw), together with the Ottawa, Quapaw, Seneca, Seneca, Wyandot, Delaware and Shawnee, ceded their last Kansas lands and agreed to remove to Oklahoma. They purchased 6,000 acres in the northeast corner of the state in what is now Ottawa County. No sooner had the Miami left Kansas, than white squatters moved into their old lands before they could be auctioned. Army troops had to be used in 1870 to remove them. The Peoria and Miami lands in Oklahoma were allotted in 1893, and the excess given to Ottawa County in 1907. By the 1930s both the Oklahoma and Indiana Miami were completely landless, although the Oklahoma tribe has since acquired 160 acres which are held in trust. The United Peoria were terminated in 1950 but restored to federal status in 1972. The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma never lost its federal recognition, something the Indiana Miami have never been able to regain.
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18th century Edit
The Treaty of Paris of 1783 ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain and the United States. In the second article of the Treaty, the parties agreed on all boundaries of the United States, including, but not limited to, the boundary to the north along then-British North America. The agreed-upon boundary included the line from the northwest angle of Nova Scotia to the northwesternmost head of Connecticut River, and proceeded down along the middle of the river to the 45th parallel of north latitude.
The parallel had been established in the 1760s as the boundary between the provinces of Quebec and New York (including what would later become the State of Vermont). It was surveyed and marked by John Collins and Thomas Valentine from 1771 to 1773. 
The St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes became the boundary further west, between the United States and what is now Ontario. Northwest of Lake Superior, the boundary followed rivers to the Lake of the Woods. From the northwesternmost point of the Lake of the Woods, the boundary was agreed to go straight west until it met the Mississippi River. In fact, that line never meets the river since the river's source is further south.
Jay Treaty (1794) Edit
The Jay Treaty of 1794 (effective 1796) created the International Boundary Commission, which was charged with surveying and mapping the boundary. It also provided for the removal of British military and administration from Detroit, as well as other frontier outposts on the U.S. side. The Jay Treaty was superseded by the Treaty of Ghent (effective 1815) concluding the War of 1812, which included pre-war boundaries.
19th century Edit
Signed in December 1814, the Treaty of Ghent ended the War of 1812, returning the boundaries of British North America and the United States to the state they were prior to the war. In the following decades, the United States and the United Kingdom concluded several treaties that settled the major boundary disputes between the two, enabling the border to be demilitarized. The Rush–Bagot Treaty of 1817 provided a plan for demilitarizing the two combatant sides in the War of 1812 and also laid out preliminary principles for drawing a border between British North America and the United States.
London Convention (1818) Edit
The Treaty of 1818 saw expansion of both British North America and the US, where the boundary extended westward along the 49th parallel, from the Northwest Angle at Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains. The treaty extinguished British claims to the south of that line up to the Red River Valley, which was part of Rupert's Land. The treaty also extinguished U.S. claims to land north of that line in the watershed of the Missouri River, which was part of the Louisiana Purchase. This amounted to three small areas, consisting of the northern part of the drainages of the Milk River (today in southern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan), the Poplar River (Saskatchewan), and Big Muddy Creek (Saskatchewan). [ citation needed ] Along the 49th parallel, the border vista is theoretically straight, but in practice follows the 19th-century surveyed border markers and varies by several hundred feet in spots. 
Webster–Ashburton Treaty (1842) Edit
Disputes over the interpretation of the border treaties and mistakes in surveying required additional negotiations, which resulted in the Webster–Ashburton Treaty of 1842. The treaty resolved the Aroostook War, a dispute over the boundary between Maine, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada. The treaty redefined the border between New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York on the one hand, and the Province of Canada on the other, resolving the Indian Stream dispute and the Fort Blunder dilemma at the outlet to Lake Champlain.
The part of the 45th parallel that separates Quebec from the U.S. states of Vermont and New York had first been surveyed from 1771 to 1773 after it had been declared the boundary between New York (including what later became Vermont) and Quebec. It was surveyed again after the War of 1812. The U.S. federal government began to construct fortifications just south of the border at Rouses Point, New York, on Lake Champlain. After a significant portion of the construction was completed, measurements revealed that at that point, the actual 45th parallel was three-quarters of a mile (1.2 km) south of the surveyed line. The fort, which became known as "Fort Blunder", was in Canada, which created a dilemma for the U.S. that was not resolved until a provision of the treaty left the border on the meandering line as surveyed. The border along the Boundary Waters in present-day Ontario and Minnesota between Lake Superior and the Northwest Angle was also redefined.  
Oregon Treaty (1846) Edit
An 1844 boundary dispute during the Presidency of James K. Polk led to a call for the northern boundary of the U.S. west of the Rockies to be 54°40′N related to the southern boundary of Russia's Alaska Territory. However, Great Britain wanted a border that followed the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. The dispute was resolved in the Oregon Treaty of 1846, which established the 49th parallel as the boundary through the Rockies.  
Boundary surveys (mid–19th century) Edit
The Northwest Boundary Survey (1857–1861) laid out the land boundary. However, the water boundary was not settled for some time. After the Pig War in 1859, arbitration in 1872 established the border between the Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands.
The International Boundary Survey (or, the "Northern Boundary Survey" in the US) began in 1872.  Its mandate was to establish the border as agreed to in the Treaty of 1818. Archibald Campbell led the way for the United States, while Donald Cameron, supported by chief astronomer Samuel Anderson, headed the British team. This survey focused on the border from the Lake of the Woods to the summit of the Rocky Mountains. 
20th century Edit
In 1903, following a dispute, a joint United Kingdom–Canada–U.S. tribunal established the boundary of southeast Alaska. 
On April 11, 1908, the United Kingdom and the United States agreed, under Article IV of the Treaty of 1908 "concerning the boundary between the United States and the Dominion of Canada from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean", to survey and delimit the boundary between Canada and the U.S. through the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, in accordance with modern surveying techniques, and thus accomplished several changes to the border.   In 1925, the International Boundary Commission's temporary mission became permanent for maintaining the survey and mapping of the border maintaining boundary monuments and buoys and keeping the border clear of brush and vegetation for 6 meters (20 ft). This "border vista" extends for 3 meters (9.8 ft) on each side of the line. 
In 1909, under the Boundary Waters Treaty, the International Joint Commission was established for Canada and the U.S. to investigate and approve projects that affect the waters and waterways along the border.
21st century Edit
As a result of the 2001 September 11 attacks, the Canada–U.S. border was shut without any warning, and no goods or people were allowed to cross. In the wake of the impromptu border closure, procedures were jointly developed to ensure that commercial traffic could cross the border even if people were restricted from crossing. These procedures were later used for a border closure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 
2020–2021 closure Edit
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada and the United States, the governments of Canada and the United States agreed to close the border to "non-essential" travel on March 21, 2020, for an initial period of 30 days.  The closure has been extended several times since then, and is currently set to expire on June 21, 2021.     The United States closed its border with Mexico contemporaneously with the Canada–U.S. closure.  The 2020 closure was reportedly the first blanket, long-term closure of the border since the War of 1812. 
Essential travel, as defined by Canadian and US regulations, includes travel for employment or education purposes.  "Non-essential" travel to Canada, includes travel "for an optional or discretionary purpose, such as tourism, recreation or entertainment."  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued defined non-essential travel to include "tourism purposes (e.g., sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events)" and gave an extensive, non-exhaustive definition of what sorts of travel qualify as essential. 
Business advocacy groups, noting the substantial economic impact of the closure on both sides of the border, have called for more nuanced restrictions in place of the current blanket ban on non-essential travel.  The Northern Border Caucus, a group in the US Congress composed of members from border communities, made similar suggestions to the governments of both countries.  Beyond the closure itself, President Donald Trump had also initially suggested the idea of deploying United States military personnel near the border with Canada in connection with the pandemic. He later abandoned the idea following vocal opposition from Canadian officials.  
Law enforcement approach Edit
The International Boundary is commonly referred to as the world's "longest undefended border", though this is true only in the military sense, as civilian law enforcement is present. It is illegal to cross the border outside border controls, as anyone crossing the border must be checked per immigration   and customs laws.   The relatively low level of security measures stands in contrast to that of the United States–Mexico border (one-third length of Canada–U.S. border), which is actively patrolled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel to prevent illegal migration and drug trafficking.
Parts of the International Boundary cross through mountainous terrain or heavily forested areas, but significant portions also cross remote prairie farmland and the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River, in addition to the maritime components of the boundary at the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans. The border also runs through the middle of the Akwesasne Nation and even divides some buildings found in communities in Vermont and Quebec.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) identifies the chief issues along the border as domestic and international terrorism drug smuggling and smuggling of products (such as tobacco) to evade customs duties and illegal immigration.  A June 2019 U.S. Government Accountability Office report identified specific staffing and resource shortfalls faced by the CBP on the Northern border that adversely affect enforcement actions the U.S. Border Patrol "identified an insufficient number of agents that limited patrol missions along the northern border" while CBP Air and Marine Operations "identified an insufficient number of agents along the northern border, which limited the number and frequency of air and maritime missions." 
There are eight U.S. Border Patrol sectors based on the Canada–U.S. border, each covering a designated "area of responsibility" the sectors are (from west to east) based in Blaine, Washington Spokane, Washington Havre, Montana Grand Forks, North Dakota Detroit, Michigan Buffalo, New York Swanton, Vermont and Houlton, Maine. 
Following the September 11 attacks in the United States, security along the border was dramatically tightened by the two countries in both populated and rural areas. Both nations are also actively involved in detailed and extensive tactical and strategic intelligence sharing.
In December 2010, Canada and the United States were negotiating an agreement titled "Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Competitiveness" which would give the U.S. more influence over Canada's border security and immigration controls, and more information would be shared by Canada with the U.S.  [ needs update ]
Security measures Edit
Residents of both nations who own property adjacent to the border are forbidden to build within the 6-metre-wide (20 ft) boundary vista without permission from the International Boundary Commission. They are required to report such construction to their respective governments.
All persons crossing the border are required to report to the customs agency of the country they have entered. Where necessary, fences or vehicle blockades are used. In remote areas, where staffed border crossings are not available, there are hidden sensors on roads, trails, railways, and wooded areas, which are located near crossing points.  There is no border zone  the U.S. Customs and Border Protection routinely sets up checkpoints as far as 100 miles (160 km) into U.S. territory.  
In August 2020, the United States constructed 3.8 km (2.4 mi) of short cable fencing along the border between Abbotsford, British Columbia, and Whatcom County, Washington. 
Prior to 2007, American and Canadian citizens were only required to produce a birth certificate and driver's license/government-issued identification card when crossing the Canada–United States border. 
However, in late 2006, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the final rule of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which pertained to new identification requirements for travelers entering the United States. This rule, which marked the first phase of the initiative, was implemented on January 23, 2007, specifying six forms of identification acceptable for crossing the U.S. border (depending on mode):  
- a valid passport—required in order to enter by air
- a United States Passport Card
- a state enhanced driver's license—available in the States of Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Washington, as well as in the provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec 
- a trusted traveler program card (i.e., NEXUS, FAST, or SENTRI)
- a valid Merchant Mariner Credential—to be used when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business and
- a valid U.S. military identification card—to be used when traveling on official orders.
The requirement of a passport or an enhanced form of identification to enter the United States by air went into effect in January 2007 and went into effect for those entering the U.S. by land and sea in January 2008.  Although the new requirements for land and sea entry went into legal effect in January 2008, its enforcement did not begin until June 2009.  Since June 2009, every traveller arriving via a land or sea port-of-entry (including ferries) has been required to present one of the above forms of identification in order to enter the United States.
Conversely in order to cross into Canada, a traveler must also carry identification, as well as a valid visa (if necessary) when crossing the border.  Forms of identification include a valid passport, a Canadian Emergency Travel Document, an enhanced driver's license issued by a Canadian province or territory, or an enhanced identification/photo card issued by a Canadian province or territory.  Several other documents may be used by Canadians to identify their citizenship at the border, although use of such documents requires it to be supported with additional photo identification. 
American and Canadian citizens who are members of a trusted traveler program such as FAST or NEXUS, may present their FAST or NEXUS card as an alternate form of identification when crossing the international boundary by land or sea, or when arriving by air from only Canada or the United States.  Although permanent residents of Canada and the United States are eligible for FAST or NEXUS, they are required to travel with a passport and proof of permanent residency upon arrival at the Canadian border.  American permanent residents who are NEXUS members also require Electronic Travel Authorization when crossing the Canadian border. 
Security issues Edit
Smuggling of alcoholic beverages ("rum running") was widespread during the 1920s, when Prohibition was in effect nationally in the United States and parts of Canada.
In more recent years, Canadian officials have brought attention to drug, cigarette, and firearms smuggling from the United States, while U.S. officials have made complaints of drug smuggling via Canada. In July 2005, law enforcement personnel arrested three men who had built a 360-foot (110 m) tunnel under the border between British Columbia and Washington, intended for the use of smuggling marijuana, the first such tunnel known on this border.  From 2007 to 2010, 147 people were arrested for smuggling marijuana on the property of a bed-and-breakfast in Blaine, Washington, but agents estimate that they caught only about 5% of smugglers. 
Because of its location, Cornwall, Ontario, experiences ongoing smuggling—mostly of tobacco and firearms from the United States. The neighboring Mohawk territory of Akwesasne straddles the Ontario–Quebec–New York borders, where its First Nations sovereignty prevents Ontario Provincial Police, Sûreté du Québec, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Services Agency, Canadian Coast Guard, United States Border Patrol, United States Coast Guard, and New York State Police from exercising jurisdiction over exchanges taking place within the territory.  
2009 border occupation Edit
In May 2009, the Mohawk people of Akwesasne occupied the area around the Canada Border Services Agency port of entry building to protest the Canadian government's decision to arm its border agents while operating on Mohawk territory. The north span of the Seaway International Bridge and the CBSA inspection facilities were closed. During this occupation, the Canadian flag was replaced with the flag of the Mohawk people. Although U.S. Customs remained opened to southbound traffic, northbound traffic was blocked on the U.S. side by both American and Canadian officials. The Canadian border at this crossing remained closed for six weeks. On July 13, 2009, the CBSA opened a temporary inspection station at the north end of the north span of the bridge in the city of Cornwall, allowing traffic to once again flow in both directions. 
The Mohawk people of Akwesasne have staged ongoing protests at this border. In 2014 they objected to a process that made their crossing more tedious believing it violated their treaty rights of free passage. When traveling from the U.S. to Cornwall Island, they must first cross a second bridge into Canada, for inspection at the new Canadian border station. Discussions between inter-governmental agencies were being pursued on the feasibility of relocating the Canadian border inspection facilities on the U.S. side of the border. 
2017 border crossing crisis Edit
In August 2017, the border between Quebec and New York saw an influx of up to 500 irregular crossings each day, by individuals seeking asylum in Canada.  As result, Canada increased border security and immigration staffing in the area, reiterating the fact that crossing the border irregularly had no effect on one's asylum status.  
From the beginning of January 2017 up until the end of March 2018, the RCMP intercepted 25,645 people crossing the border into Canada from an unauthorized point of entry. Public Safety Canada estimates another 2,500 came across in April 2018 for a total of just over 28,000. 
The length of the terrestrial boundary is 8,891 kilometers (5,525 mi) long, including bodies of water and the border between Alaska and Canada that spans 2,475 kilometers (1,538 mi).   Eight out of thirteen provinces and territories of Canada and thirteen out of fifty U.S. states are located along this international boundary.
|Rank||State||Length of border with Canada||Rank||Province/territory||Length of border with the U.S.|
|1||Alaska||2,475 km (1,538 mi)||1||Ontario||2,727 km (1,682 mi)|
|2||Michigan||1,160 km (721 mi)||2||British Columbia||2,168 km (1,347 mi)|
|3||Maine||983 km (611 mi)||3||Yukon||1,244 km (786 mi)|
|4||Minnesota||880 km (547 mi)||4||Quebec||813 km (505 mi)|
|5||Montana||877 km (545 mi)||5||Saskatchewan||632 km (393 mi)|
|6||New York||716 km (445 mi)||6||New Brunswick||513 km (318 mi)|
|7||Washington||687 km (427 mi)||7||Manitoba||497 km (309 mi)|
|8||North Dakota||499 km (310 mi)||8||Alberta||298 km (185 mi)|
|9||Ohio||235 km (146 mi)|
|10||Vermont||145 km (90 mi)|
|11||New Hampshire||93 km (58 mi)|
|12||Idaho||72 km (45 mi)|
|13||Pennsylvania||68 km (42 mi)|
The Canadian territory of Yukon shares its entire border with the U.S. state of Alaska, beginning at the Beaufort Sea at 69°39′N 141°00′W / 69.650°N 141.000°W / 69.650 -141.000 and proceeds southwards along the 141st meridian west. At 60°18′N, the border proceeds away from the 141st meridian west in a southeastward direction, following the St. Elias Mountains. South of the 60th parallel north, the border continues into British Columbia. 
British Columbia Edit
British Columbia has two international borders with the United States: with the state of Alaska along BC's northwest, and with the contiguous United States along the southern edge of the province, including (west to east) Washington, Idaho, and Montana. 
Was it worthwhile for Britain to side with the USA in the Canada-Alaska border dispute? - History
Tyler thinks Douglas Irwin has just released the best history of American trade policy ever written. So for this conversation Tyler went easy on Doug, asking softball questions like: Have tariffs ever driven growth? What trade exceptions should there be for national security, or cultural reasons? In an era of low tariffs, what margins matter most for trade liberalization? Do investor arbitration panels override national sovereignty? And, what’s the connection between free trade and world peace?
They also discuss the revolution as America’s Brexit, why NAFTA is an ‘effing great’ trade agreement, Jagdish Bhagwati’s key influence on Doug, the protectionist bent of the Boston Tea Party, the future of the WTO, Trump, China, the Chicago School, and what’s rotten in the state of New Hampshire.
Listen to the full conversation
Read the full transcript
TYLER COWEN: I’m here today with Douglas A. Irwin of Dartmouth College. Doug has just published a book, Clashing over Commerce: A History of US Trade Policy, that is in fact the greatest book on trade policy ever written, and Doug is one of my favorite economists.
Today, Doug, we’re going to start in on trade. What I’m going to do is toss out a bunch of arguments used against free trade, and you either give me what you think is the best rebuttal or, if you want to accept the argument, that’s fine. You ready for that?
DOUGLAS IRWIN: Sure.
COWEN: Here goes. The claim that 19th century American growth was driven by high tariffs. What’s your take?
IRWIN: Not really true. If you look at why the US economy performed very well, particularly relative to Britain or Germany or other countries, Steve Broadberry’s shown that a lot of the overtaking of Britain in terms of per capita income was in terms of the service sector.
The service sector was expanding rapidly. It had very high productivity growth rates. We usually don’t think as that being affected by the tariff per se. That’s one reason.
We had also very high productivity growth rates in agriculture. I’ve done some counterfactual simulations. If you remove the tariff, how much resources would we take out of manufacturing and put into services or agriculture is actually pretty small. It just doesn’t account for the success we had during this period.
COWEN: Is there any country where you would say, “Their late 19th century economic growth was driven by tariffs?” Argentina, Canada, Germany, anything, anywhere?
IRWIN: No. If you look at all those, once again, in late 19th century, they were major exporters, largely of commodities, but they did very well that way. You know that Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world in the late 19th century. It really wasn’t until they adopted more import substitution policies after World War I that they began to fall behind.
Yes, you can build up your manufacturing sector, but if it’s a low-productivity sector or it’s not going to be very dynamic, it’s not going to enhance national income.
COWEN: Take tariffs on agriculture today, arguably the single biggest exception to free trade principles in the world. What if I were to argue that the national security argument actually makes sense?
We live in this funny bubble of a world where there has not been a major war anytime lately. If you were, say, Japan, you’re a vulnerable island. You actually can’t grow a lot of your own food. You’re easily blockaded.
If the Japanese have some tariffs on, say, rice, beef, and other items, it may in most years look like it makes no sense whatsoever. But the long-term payoff of keeping some autonomy in their own production of foodstuffs will make it worthwhile sooner or later and give them more leverage in foreign policy. True or false?
IRWIN: I go back to Adam Smith, the master, who said that defense is more important than opulence. Certainly, economies have always recognized that there might be an exception to the doctrine of free trade in the case of helping out domestic industries that are essential for national defense.
Then the question becomes, if that’s really a security worry, what’s the best way of promoting agriculture? First of all, is rice protection really going to help them out if there’s some sort of major conflagration? Probably not.
COWEN: Why not? You can always eat rice, correct? There’s fish from the sea. Fish plus rice equals some version of Japanese food. It’s delicious. It’s good for you. It won’t ever go away. Maybe they have a major war once in a century. Isn’t it worth it as a form of insurance? Yes, no?
IRWIN: You could do the calculation and actually see whether it might possibly pay off. They’ve used very tight import quotas, raised the price to consumers. They’re holding back the overall economy because they’re devoting a lot of labor and land to this relatively unproductive sector of the economy.
It’s a societal choice in some sense. If they want to sacrifice x percent of national income for 50 or 100 years for this — what I would think would be a relatively low-probability event — who’s to say that they’ve made a wrong choice?
COWEN: The cultural exception to free trade, a common argument at UNESCO. If you go back some number of years, South Korea has significant quotas keeping out a lot of Hollywood movies. South Korean moviemaking then, according to some accounts, appears to blossom. You have wonderful South Korean movies like Mother. South Korea becomes a moviemaking power. Years later, South Korea is still a leading movie and otherwise entertainment and cultural exporter to the rest of Asia.
Therefore for cultural reasons, it’s often a good thing to allow more tariffs and quotas on, say, movies, television programs, linguistically designated products, possibly national heritage items that a lot of our free trade agreements allow. What’s your view?
IRWIN: That’s not just an argument there. Canada, too, has cultural exceptions built into the US-Canada Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA and things of that sort.
Actually, I’m surprised you’re asking me that because you’ve written about the cultural diversity that you get with openness in free trade and that if you limit the ability of domestic consumers to watch foreign movies, and taste foreign food, and import foreign art, you’re losing something as a result of that.
So I’m not sure many countries could become this sort of net exporter of cultural products the way South Korea has.
COWEN: A fairly new argument against one kind of free trade, and that is the claim that in some parts of the world, there’s too much tourism. If you live in Venice, on one hand, tourists probably account for the living you’re able to make, but arguably Venice as we know it is not sustainable. There are too many tourists. Works get damaged. Everything becomes “chained” in Venice. Venetian culture now, for the most part, seems to be gone. There’s barely a Venice left. It’s like being in a large airport surrounded by a lot of monuments.
The population of Iceland, I think it’s about 400,000. So many tourists are coming, Iceland is wondering if its own culture isn’t being overwhelmed by tourists. They fear the Icelandic language will go away and that somehow the natural heritage of Iceland, or even some of the cultural aspects, are being ruined.
In your view, can there be too much tourism? And is there an appropriate policy response?
IRWIN: The appropriate policy response would be taxation. You want to tax the foreign visitors. You wouldn’t want to exclude them. You wouldn’t want to set quotas. But if you set an appropriate tax that applies to both domestic and foreign citizens so it’s not protectionist per se. It’s just accounting for the externality of degradation of overuse or something like that.
COWEN: If you’re the Icelandic median voter, do you favor such a tax?
IRWIN: That’s a good question. It’s on my list of places to go, so I haven’t measured that myself. But I would think that they’re getting quite wealthy as a result of this. Whether they’ve gone too far, I don’t know, and whether it’s taxing of their infrastructure.
COWEN: Let’s take a somewhat different approach to trade. It’s found, I think, especially in China. Some people would argue it’s even practiced by Germany as well. And that is to have a focus simply on everyone being able to keep a job, not efficiency as economists would describe it, not output, not productivity, but the notion that exports possibly can take away some of your jobs as they’ve done in parts of the American Rust Belt, that that’s very bad for your political economy.
You might, believe it or not, start electing rather strange candidates, or perhaps start opposing the Chinese government in nonproductive ways. Therefore trade policy really should be governed by making sure everyone has a good enough job.
China has done this through a rather extreme mercantilism. Some people would say Germany has done it by its role in the Euro system, which gives it a currency which has arguably a permanently low value relative to German productivity.
Do you think there’s much to this argument?
IRWIN: No, in the sense that I don’t think you want a trade intervention per se as a job creation mechanism. If you want to guarantee jobs for people, that would be one approach. But you don’t have to link it to the trade sector per se.
In fact, there’s sort of a theme through all of your little exceptions that you’re throwing at me — which I enjoy very much — in that the case for free trade has never been the case for laissez-faire. There may be cases for intervention, either overuse of certain tourist sites or you need a certain industry or sector for national security.
These don’t necessitate an intervention in trade. You don’t need tariffs, quotas, export subsidies, things of that sort. There are other domestic policies that can more efficiently and more directly address the situation you’re trying to deal with.
“The case for free trade has never been the case for laissez-faire. There may be cases for intervention, either overuse of certain tourist sites or you need a certain industry or sector for national security.
These don’t necessitate an intervention in trade. You don’t need tariffs, quotas, export subsidies, things of that sort. There are other domestic policies that can more efficiently and more directly address the situation you’re trying to deal with.”
COWEN: Let’s take some of the recent free trade agreements, which, as you know, large parts of them are not about free trade in the older classical sense of cutting tariffs, but they’re about regulatory standardization. This always tends to make me a little bit nervous, even though on average, I favor these agreements.
Regulatory standardization often lowers the cost of trade, but it also tends to bring, in many cases, more regulation. We live in this funny world where more free trade or semi-free trade and more regulation, albeit better regulation, come together. If you’re skeptical about there being more regulation, as I often am, but you’re favorable toward more free trade, you’re not sure always how to feel about these new trade agreements.
Do you think the future inevitably is one where what we’re calling free trade agreement actually, on average, will be bringing, on net, more regulation to the economies they’re covering?
IRWIN: Unfortunately, yes. Tariff levels have been beaten down. Obviously, they’re not zero. They’re still scoped to reduce those. There are many parts of the world that still have relatively high tariffs.
But if you look at the big trade agreements — Trans-Pacific Partnership was this — if the US and the EU ever reach a trade agreement, there’s going to be a lot of regulatory provisions. Once again, I share also your view that this could go either way.
One of the things that at least US trade negotiators say is that there’s a lot of regulatory protectionism out there. This is a way of not necessarily even setting standards, but ensuring that there’s a mechanism to ensure that other governments are not tweaking their standards to favor domestic firms or to serve some special interest.
Yes, it could lead to more regulations. It could lead to standards that maybe developing countries can’t adhere to, so it has that downside. But it also could, not clear the decks of regulation, but prevent regulatory protectionism, which that’s a possibility as well.
COWEN: Many recent, and even some older, trade agreements have embodied in them investor arbitration panels, sometimes called ISDS or investor-state dispute settlement. These panels, as you know, sometimes have the ability to override national laws or the court decisions of a national government.
The possible conflicts between these panels and what some would say is democracy or some would say is constitutionalism — (a) to what extent does that worry you? And (b), in general, do you want to see ISDS in the trade agreements we’re writing or do you feel it’s somehow gone too far?
IRWIN: Personally, I wouldn’t want them in. They distract from, I think, what is the main purpose of these trade agreements, which is to reduce trade barriers and regulatory barriers. So I’m not particularly happy that they’re in there.
But I do think, on the other side, the progressive Left if you will, there’s a lot of ISDS horror stories about how it undermines democracy, it’s a terrible thing, and the US is foisting this on the international system, and other countries don’t want it. But, in fact, it turns out a lot of developing countries insist that this is in. Mexico just recently asked for this in, I believe, a new agreement with the EU or Canada. I can’t recall where I read it.
The reason why developing countries want it is because it’s a way of ensuring that they can commit themselves to treating foreign investors fairly. They want to attract foreign investment, and they maybe don’t necessarily want ISDS, but they’re willing to go in for it. They ask for it because it’s a commitment device.
Let’s see, I was reading also Canada and the EU, I think, their recent CETA, their agreement, also has ISDS. Once again, it’s not something the US was pushing. Many in Europe are very much opposed to these things, but it got in there for various reasons.
COWEN: Take a trade agreement such as TPP with or without the United States. What percentage of the gains from TPP do you think are coming from more foreign direct investment? And what percentage of the gains do you think are coming from more trade in the narrower sense of the term?
IRWIN: Oh, that’s a great question. It depends a lot on the particular country.
Australia’s already a pretty open market. Vietnam could be a big winner in the sense of getting a little bit more market access, but also liberalizing their own tariffs and quotas that they’d be forced to do. Their liberalization within the context of a TPP is good for them, and to the extent that they institutionalize this as a trade regime, they may attract even more foreign investment.
Certainly, we’ve seen when Mexico and other countries reach a lot of foreign trade agreements, they can become expert platforms and attract investment.
COWEN: To the extent we think the gains are from more direct foreign investment, does that not mean we should favor more ISDS rather than shy away from it? Enter the debate, argue against the Europeans, try and get ISDS in as many agreements as possible for the purposes of more foreign direct investment? Or no, you’re still gun-shy?
IRWIN: [laughs] Once again, I take the world as evolving and want to analyze what’s driving this. Even if I say, “Any future trade agreement, we’re not going to have no ISDS,” they’re already embedded in the system, known as BITs, bilateral investment treaties. They’re going to crop up one way or another.
As I mentioned, this is not something that the nefarious United States is foisting upon unsuspecting other countries. Other countries sometimes want this as a way of saying, “Look, maybe you don’t trust our judicial regime, but we’ll do this as a way of promoting investment.” Once again, with Canada and the EU, no one doesn’t trust their judicial regimes, but still somehow those two countries — very progressive — wanted ISDS in their agreement.
COWEN: Here’s a question that’s a complete softball, so easy, I can’t believe I’m asking you. How strong is the connection between free trade and world peace?
IRWIN: [laughs] This is something I’ve actually wanted to investigate in more detail. Certainly, my gut reaction — and I think there’s a lot of evidence for it — is they are related.
Certainly, when you read the memoirs of statesmen of the mid-20th century, they definitely saw that, Cordell Hull being the leading example, who’s the US secretary of state from 1933 until 1944 or ’45.
And he wasn’t alone. A lot of economists, Jacob Viner and others, also saw that connection because when you had either trade protectionism or imperialism closing off markets, it led to the scramble for Africa or something like that. Instead of trading these resources freely, you had territorial acquisition as being the counterbalancing of that.
What’s interesting is, just as economists have done a lot of empirical work on the benefits and costs of trade, political scientists have done a lot of work on this. The empirical work is not quite up, I think, to the standards of what economists have done in terms of the economic phenomena, but partly it’s because it’s very difficult to quantify, first of all, what constitutes peace, how you operationalize this, what constitutes a trade agreement.
Trade is endogenous in many respects, so if there’s a lot of trade, what exactly is the consequence of that? What’s the exogenous variation where more trade leads to more peace? You’d like to see something like that. I’m not sure we have really hard social science evidence on it, but I think it’s a factor that we economists often overlook. A lot of trade policy debates are foreign policy driven, and it’s not something we should really neglect.
COWEN: The idea that free trade might be connected to peace seems quite plausible to me in an era of communism, where you have expansionary foreign governments, and for a long time, there was, as you know, no McDonald’s in Moscow.
If you look today, it seems something has changed. China is our largest trading partner, but many observers of foreign affairs would argue that the relationship between US and China has some reasonable chance of leading to foreign conflict. So something has changed in the structure of the equilibrium where now nations that trade a fair amount might fairly readily go to war relative to what we used to suspect.
Of course, there is a McDonald’s in Moscow. There’s probably quite a few. People in Moscow eat sushi. They consume all kinds of American popular culture, if only downloaded illegally on the internet.
What do you think has changed in the structure of the problem to have made the free trade–peace connection possibly now so weak?
IRWIN: I don’t know that it’s weaker. I think China’s a really difficult one to figure out in terms of whether all the openness we’ve seen over the past two decades or so is going to lead to political transformation or a change in their foreign policy. It doesn’t seem to have yet, so I’d say that the jury is still out. Still the costs . . .
This goes back to Norman Angell’s point. Of course he’s widely misinterpreted from saying, “We won’t see wars in the future because of increased trade.” He didn’t say that. He said it changed the cost-benefit calculation. I think it may have for China.
Just recently, watching the Ken Burns Vietnam series on PBS, there were a lot of wars in Southeast Asia beyond the Vietnamese War. China invaded Vietnam. Vietnam invaded Cambodia. I’m not sure that that sort of local conflict . . . I don’t think it’s more likely, given the tremendous amount of commerce that’s going on and the perceived need of the governments to justify themselves by saying, “We’re providing an adequate standard of living for our people.”
COWEN: Some questions about trade in Asia. Should the United States allow China to buy US semiconductor companies?
IRWIN: One could invoke national security. Without answering that specific question — and of course, we do have a process for reviewing those things — there is a big question about how easily we can integrate China further into the world trading system. That is, I don’t think things have developed the way a lot of people hoped when China joined the WTO and we gave them a permanent normalized trade status. It’s become much more mercantilist, much more interventionist, much more protectionist in nontariff ways than a lot of people thought and hoped that China would evolve.
This is a question that economists raised after World War II, as well. A great trade economist such as Jacob Viner saying, “Can we really integrate the Communists and the non-Communist worlds in a trading system?” Turns out the answer was no.
“This is a question that economists raised after World War II, as well. “Can we really integrate the Communists and the non-Communist worlds in a trading system?” Turns out the answer was no.”
I guess my worry with China is, the more they push it, and they are pushing the envelope in terms of the rules of trade as we in the West see them, in terms of limited government support for firms, and things of that sort, they’re pushing things. I think that we could be moving in a direction where there will be more trade conflict, even set aside Trump and all that sort of thing.
COWEN: China decides to keep out Uber, and Didi, of course, becomes the market leader for ridesharing in China, a much larger company than Uber now. China also keeps out Google and Facebook, and there are Chinese equivalents or near equivalents that rise to take their place.
Just from the point of view of Chinese economic welfare, not global welfare, but China alone, are those economically rational decisions good for the Chinese economy?
IRWIN: I think they’re being taken, not for economic reasons, but for political reasons.
COWEN: And national security reasons. But just on the economic side, does it boost Chinese GDP for the Chinese and the median or average wage to keep out Uber, Google, and Facebook?
IRWIN: Personally, I don’t think so because you’re limiting access to more choice. Google’s a very efficient search engine. By limiting access to information by your domestic citizens, your scientists, and others — unless they can breach that wall — they’re not going to have access to the best ideas out there.
COWEN: But if you get from that decision a Baidu, which is the Chinese equivalent of Google you get Tencent, WeChat, being in some ways like Facebook Didi of course is an all-Chinese company — they get a version of the services.
Scientists who need the research use a VPN. They still access Google. But it seems there’s much more output within the Chinese economic nexus than if those decisions had not been taken.
IRWIN: Possibly, but the question is, also you would have a lot of Chinese entrepreneurship in terms of web development and new apps and things of that sort simply because they know the local market much better than a foreign firm coming in and saying, “We’re going to provide this particular service.”
In addition, if you were able to attract Google and other apps to produce in China, you’re adding to local capabilities. So, foreign ownership, I don’t think, is a particular problem.
COWEN: When the United States, and indeed the West more generally, let China into the WTO, many people are now saying, “It turns out, looking back, we gave up too much leverage. We had a lot of leverage at the time. We didn’t use it. China entered on terms where it’s allowed to violate too many of the rules subsequently.” Agree or disagree?
IRWIN: A little bit agree because, actually, US negotiators were very defensive in terms of what they were asking China. They wanted, really, exceptions that the US could impose trade barriers against China rather than saying, “We want much stricter rules that you can’t intervene in this sector or that sector,” provide free credit to domestic firms.
We were more interested in exceptions for ourselves to block their textiles or have a special safeguard exception rather than making firm our insistence that China not get its fingers all over their own economy.
COWEN: As you know, there’s a series of papers by MIT economist David Autor with co-authors, and they argue to varying extents that Chinese import penetration has hurt US middle-class wages and indirectly would seem to imply it’s damaged a fair number of US communities. This may account for some of the sad state of our Rust Belt and former manufacturing areas.
(a) How much do you believe that result? And (b), to the extent there’s something there, how well do you feel that result is being processed by the policy community and the policy discussion?
IRWIN: They’ve done some really interesting work. I call it a great piece of economic history because the China shock was a one-off shock. It’s not going to happen again.
There’s a huge increase in the supply of labor to the market sector in China from the 1990s and into the 2000s. Actually, I think we’re going to have some papers in the future about the negative China shock because the Chinese labor force is going to be shrinking.
So it was a very particular, unique period of economic history. If you’re thinking about bringing in hundreds of millions of people in China into the market sector, and then you’re losing one million jobs in the United States over 10 years, that’s actually a pretty small impact on the United States.
Now, impact is particularly hard on those communities where it’s a one-factory town or something like that. They’re producing furniture or apparel. It’s clear that that had a negative impact there. But there’s also a macroeconomic context to what you have to think about in terms of the China shock.
I don’t worry about the 1990s so much because we had a robust, growing economy then, and actually there’s some evidence that workers who were displaced from the textile industry in the 1990s were actually getting higher wages outside. But the 2000s is a very different situation. Even though the aggregate unemployment rate was coming down in the 2000s, the Fed was tightening.
The China shock was not a macroeconomic shock, not an aggregate demand shock in a sort of Scott Sumner point of view. Certain communities were hurt, but this is also a period where we had 10 percent of Chinese current account surplus and a big US current account deficit.
So I think the problem during the 2000s was, the economy wasn’t particularly robust. We had these big macroeconomic imbalances, which you have to understand the context during that period. If, for example, US export growth to China had been matched or matched our import growth from China, we probably wouldn’t be having this debate. There would have been a China shock, but we’d have said, “Boy, there are a lot of alternatives elsewhere.”
Yes, we were getting capital inflows and had lower interest rates because of the inflows of capital from China, but people don’t see that as much and think maybe it propped up the housing bubble and shifted resources into housing.
It’s history. It happened. It doesn’t cause me to rethink the case for free trade in any way. We’ve always known there are adjustment costs. We’ve always known certain communities are going to be hurt. But I do think we can exaggerate how important that was in terms of where the US economy is today.
COWEN: Ed Conard has an argument for why he’s skeptical about some of the trade with China. He worries about the capital inflow from China, that it hasn’t been sufficiently concentrated in risk-taking entrepreneurial capital. He says the capital has come in in the form of buying off in government securities. Government at times is actually one of our less productive sectors.
We’ve gotten more quote, unquote “investment” from that capital, but we get it in an area that’s a bit of a lemon in productivity terms. Therefore Ed thinks trade with China hasn’t been a good deal necessarily at some margins. What’s your take on that?
IRWIN: A lot of government spending is just transfer payments. So it made those transfer payments and the US fiscal deficits easier to accommodate. But of course, there is going to be a reckoning. We do have to pay for those at some point. Just because you’re getting cheap credit for a 5- or 10-year period doesn’t mean that you don’t want to think about correcting that fiscal deficit and worrying about access to cheap credit, which may not be there forever.
COWEN: Now we switch back to our home shores, American economic history and trade policy and other matters. Some of this, of course, comes from your book, but your book has much, much more. It’s what, about 900 pages?
IRWIN: I try to cut it down by saying a lot of it’s the index, a lot of it is the endnotes and the references, so it’s actually about 690 pages of text.
COWEN: OK, but it’s a highly readable 690 pages. Here’s some questions about US trade history. We used to have bills have fun names, like the Tariff of Abominations, and now our trade bills have boring names. Why did that change? Why do we have complacent names for our trade bills?
IRWIN: They used to be just tariff acts, so they would just change US tariffs, and that was the main purpose of it. So they would be named for the chairman or chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.
For example, Smoot-Hawley, which actually should be called the Hawley-Smoot Tariff because it’s always House first and then the Senate, but the official name of that is the Tariff Act of 1930. Either the press or the members of Congress themselves introduce the moniker to give it a little bit more cachet.
But since Smoot-Hawley, all of the trade acts are not really about tariffs per se. They’re about trade negotiating authority. That’s maybe a little less interesting, and so we have the Trade Expansion Act of 1973, the Trade Act of 1974. It’s not really like there’s one or two key people on key committees who are saying, “I’m setting tariff rates here,” like a tax bill or something like that. I guess because they’re less interesting in that sense, they don’t get named.
COWEN: In the years leading up to the American Revolution, of course, there are restrictions on trade. There was a common complaint, still repeated: “Taxation without representation,” now applied to the District of Columbia at times.
In those years leading up to the American Revolution, how high actually were trade barriers in real net-effective terms? Were we just a bunch of whiners? Or were these trade restrictions actually terrible?
IRWIN: [laughs] I actually think we were very good at whining. First of all, we were getting an enormous implicit subsidy in terms of British national defense. And our tax burdens, compared to the average British citizen, were very, very low.
We wanted to have it both ways. We wanted Britain to underwrite our defense, but we didn’t want to have to pay for it. All the tax debates in the 1760s, we are a little bit of a whiner.
In addition to the trade barriers, Britain was our natural trading partner anyway, and there are some commodities, such as tobacco, which were enumerated and had to go through Britain. But when you look at the post-independence period, we don’t really shift away from Britain too much.
So I think the Navigation Acts have been exaggerated in popular history in terms of how much they were really constricting US commerce and harming the American economy.
COWEN: The Tea Party, not the modern Tea Party but the real, good, old-fashioned Tea Party, were they the good guys or the bad guys?
IRWIN: Once again, they weren’t tax cutters. They actually wanted to stop smuggling. People don’t —
COWEN: So they were protectionists.
IRWIN: [laughs] They really were in a sense. What Britain was doing, actually, during this period, through the Tea Act, was cutting the duty on tea and trying to help out and undercut smuggling and help out the East India Company. So it wasn’t a big tax hike at all. It was actually a tax cut, but the smugglers were the ones who really were invading the British ships and throwing the tea overboard.
COWEN: You mentioned to me in an email before this chat, a notion of understanding the American Revolution in part as America’s early version of Brexit. Could you explain that for us a little more?
IRWIN: Sure. The Founding Fathers really didn’t want to lose market access to the British Empire.
We wanted our political independence. We didn’t want taxation without representation. We thought, long term, we’re very integrated with the British economy. We should maintain that integration. There was this hope, and actually there’s some reason for the hope, after we had won the war, that Britain would be magnanimous, and we could maintain our trading status within the context of the British Empire.
But of course, the British didn’t see it that way. They said, “OK, if you want your political independence, you’re going to get your economic independence as well. All the privileges that you used to have, they’re out the window. You’re now outside the British Empire.” I don’t think the Founding Fathers really anticipated that this would be the case, and they spent a lot of the 1780s trying to claw their way back into the British Empire and got absolutely no give from the British authorities.
A lot of this had to do with the Constitution itself and the formation of the Constitution as a way of allowing 13 independent states to sort of band together and have negotiating authority against other powers, which we didn’t have during this period. So the Constitution is very much an outgrowth of US trade politics during this time.
Revenue, of course, was another key consideration there since, under the Articles of Confederation, Congress couldn’t raise funds. We had these big deficits, and the debts couldn’t be financed. So I think it was a Brexit gone badly.
In fact, economic historians Jeff Williamson and Peter Lindert have a book just a couple years ago on American wealth over time. And once again, the data are sketchy. When you look at American wealth and income in 1776 or the early 1770s, and then you look at it in the 1790s, we’re basically, after 20 years or so, just getting back to where we were before.
A lot of people think this is possibly worse than the Great Depression in terms of the impact on the economic activity of the United States. It wasn’t just the revolution. The 1780s was not a good decade, partly because our trade had been so severely disrupted by being outside the British Empire.
COWEN: Let’s shift to Broadway for a moment, Alexander Hamilton. Was he at the time, in fact, the founding American protectionist?
IRWIN: No. First of all, he gets that reputation because of the Report on Manufactures, which can certainly be read that way. What’s interesting about the Report on Manufacturers is an anti–Adam Smith argument. It’s also an anti-physiocrat argument.
It’s anti–Adam Smith, in the sense that he doesn’t think that the invisible hand will lead to the right allocation of resources. It’s also an anti-physiocrat argument because, apparently, he was confronting, at the time, the argument that the wealth of nations is really based on agriculture, and manufacturing is not something we want to get into.
He said it’s actually useful for various reasons, not just defense, but possibly for productivity increases. It’s producing useful things. It’s an economic activity that we should want and not try to discourage.
There are so many things to point out about that report. The main thing is, when you look at his activities when he was Secretary of the Treasury, he did not want to keep out imports. He wanted a constant flow, a large flow of imports coming in because that was his tax base. He viewed the fiscal sustainability of the federal government as being much more important than any tinkering with trying to promote manufacturers here and there.
He actually rejected proposals coming from the opposite party, Jefferson and Madison, to have embargoes against Britain or limits on trade because he wanted to finance the fiscal deficits, and he thought any sort of disruption to imports would upset those fiscal plans.
In fact, he was so much against those plans that import-competing producers in Philadelphia and elsewhere began shifting their allegiance from the Federalists, who were thought to be in favor of a strong central government and promotion of manufacturing, to the Jeffersonian Republicans, who they saw as much more willing to impose pretty draconian restrictions on imports.
COWEN: Let’s say it’s the 1870s, and you are Rutherford B. Hayes. You’re faced with a series of choices about tariffs. As you know, tariffs in that era are a significant means of funding the national government.
You can either have higher tariffs or probably have higher excise taxes. Or maybe there’s something else you’d like to put on the menu. How do you think about that tradeoff? What decision would you, as Rutherford B. Hayes, have made?
IRWIN: Remember, we had huge fiscal surpluses in the 1880s, late 1870s and 1880s. So there was clearly scope for a big tax cut in tariffs. You don’t need protectionist tariffs to raise enough revenue to fund the federal government.
The sugar tariff alone . . . It’s in the book. I can’t remember off the top of my head. The sugar tariff alone accounted for 25 percent of all revenue coming from the tariffs, maybe even more. You could tax a few select commodities, have them as excise taxes. That raises all the revenue that you need.
You don’t need heavy duties on steel rails and cotton textiles and things of that sort, which truly were protectionist duties. They didn’t raise much revenue. They did block imports and helped out domestic interests that way.
COWEN: Fast-forwarding in time quite a bit. The 1990s, we passed NAFTA, North American Free Trade Agreement. At the time, many people were quite optimistic about NAFTA. But today, as you know, there are numerous research papers which look pretty hard to find any gains at all.
You may be able to find small gains from NAFTA. But it’s unclear what the payoff from NAFTA really has been. If you look at the Mexican economy, there doesn’t appear to be convergence. They’re growing at a rate between two and two and a half percent.
Looking backwards, what is your view of NAFTA? Did we, in some way, do the treaty wrong? Other than mere updating, how might you revise NAFTA today?
IRWIN: I spoke to one trade negotiator about this once. They said NAFTA is not a good trade agreement. NAFTA is an effing great trade agreement. And I agree. It’s a great trade agreement. Once again, US barriers towards Mexican products were already pretty low. So it’s not like we’re getting some big consumer surplus gains from taking down pretty big barriers.
“I spoke to one trade negotiator about this once. They said NAFTA is not a good trade agreement. NAFTA is an effing great trade agreement. And I agree.”
What it did was solidify the US-Mexican relationship. Here you’re appealing to foreign policy a little bit. But also, you’re trying to undertake measures to strengthen the Mexican economy and have a long-term partnership.
I think it’s, on net, been very good for Mexico. Once again, it hasn’t been perfect. You recall that, within a year after NAFTA went into effect, they had a financial crisis. They’ve had major banking and financial issues through the late 1990s into the 2000s.
Obviously NAFTA’s not a silver bullet, where it just makes the Mexican economy transformed into something great. There are a lot of still reforms that have to be done in Mexico, some of it macroeconomic, others not.
But to say that we’d be better off without NAFTA, I don’t think either the United States or Mexico would be. Here’s where you get these nebulous things. John Stuart Mill talked about them, in terms of the benefits of trade. There is an attitudinal shift in Mexico, a much greater openness towards the world.
That’s been all to the better. We’ve seen the basically one-party state dissolve into a competitive democracy. So I think NAFTA and the greater openness that it’s brought about have been very good for Mexico.
COWEN: Is there a future for the World Trade Organization? It has not achieved significant reductions in tariffs for some while. Some people, not all, compare it to the political economy of riding a bicycle, that if you don’t keep on moving forward, you may stop altogether. The action we’ve seen in free trade has been multilateral agreements, outside of the framework of the WTO. It hasn’t achieved real progress on agricultural tariffs.
There is a resurgence of nationalism, populism, whatever you want to call it, in a number of nations, including our own. Is there indeed a future for the WTO?
IRWIN: I think that’s a big question about whether there is. It used to be said that it’s not so great for negotiating trade agreements anymore. They can’t seem to get a consensus. The Doha Round was the first real negotiating round that absolutely failed, and that’s been terminated now.
It’s been over 20 years since they have reached any major, multilateral agreement. The argument among economists has been “Well OK, it’s not so great. People are bypassing it in terms of trade negotiations, but it’s great because of the dispute settlement system.”
But now we see the Trump administration saying, “We don’t like this dispute settlement system.” If the US undermines that, it’s really not clear what role the WTO would have. It wouldn’t be an efficient forum for trade negotiations, and it wouldn’t have an effective dispute settlement system if the US blows it up or walks away from it or something like that. Part of the problem with the WTO, at least in terms of negotiations, has been something that Canada identified, way back in the 1940s, which I think is in the book.
After World War II, we were going to set up a big multilateral organization called the ITO, the International Trade Organization. At some point, as we were moving in this direction, Canada snuck up to the US negotiators and whispered in their ear, “You know what? It may not be a good idea to get every country talking about these things because not everyone’s on the same page.”
In particular, they pointed out India and Brazil and a few others, which they called the more protectionist-minded countries of the era. That’s why we went ahead with the GATT, which is a smaller, nuclear club of like-minded countries to liberalize trade, and the ITO actually never came into being.
But when we shifted from the GATT to the WTO, in 1995, we brought everyone into the room. Now it has 160 members or something like that. It operates by consensus, meaning it’s the lowest-common-denominator negotiating forum. Everyone has to agree. The former director general of the WTO once said it’s like a car with one accelerator and 150 hand brakes. Any country, not quite, but almost any country can step on the brakes and stop the process.
The question is, is this a way to go forward? What you’ve seen is countries just bypassing it. They’ve gone to regional, bilateral, or even sectoral sorts of agreements to avoid the whole mass of countries trying to agree on one common trade policy for everyone.
COWEN: The United States federal government, it often embodies a great deal of messiness. If you think how many different agencies have we had that regulate banks or financial institutions in some way, it’s quite a few. You could say the same of trade.
There’s USTR. There’s the State Department. There’s the Department of Commerce. There’s OPIC. There’s a lot of different layers at which we address trade. Should we just consolidate those into a big, supposedly consistent Department of Trade? Or do you prefer the sprawling mess?
IRWIN: I prefer the sprawling mess.
“COWEN: There’s USTR. There’s the State Department. There’s the Department of Commerce. There’s OPIC. There’s a lot of different layers at which we address trade. Should we just consolidate those into a big, supposedly consistent Department of Trade? Or do you prefer the sprawling mess?
IRWIN: I prefer the sprawling mess.”
IRWIN: I spent a year at the Council of Economic Advisers a long time ago, and I got to watch this interagency process work its way out. What it does is it provides checks and balances on USTR or any lead agency in terms of any one particular area of trade negotiations. It’s internal checks and balances. It provides coherence because USTR’s not going to do something that the Department of Agriculture is going to be very upset about. They can coordinate that.
The problem is, if you centralize . . . There have been many proposals over the years, particularly in the 1980s, when we needed a MITI, just like Japan had — one negotiating arm that would do everything in industrial policy. You centralize power. Whenever you centralize power, it will do things that we don’t necessarily want it to do.
COWEN: Trump supposedly has said, I think sitting at his desk, to some of his advisers, “Tariffs. I want tariffs. Bring me tariffs.” Possibly he screamed this out. Now I know you don’t work for Trump, but if you were put in the position of actually bringing to Trump a tariff, what would it be? Call it least harmful if you wish, but what would it be?
IRWIN: [laughs] I haven’t thought about which tariffs I’d like to impose recently. I guess, if I was an advisor, I’d say they’re coming because there are certain cases under the provisions of US trade law, where you will have a choice on your desk about whether to impose tariffs or not.
That’s the way the process works. You cannot, unilaterally, decide to raise these things by yourself. You have to wait for them to come to you, and they are coming. Just be patient. Of course, he’s not very patient. We’ll see.
COWEN: What will Trump actually do on trade? If you look at the data, the Mexican peso this year is up, last I looked, around 20 percent. Of course, it was down about that much right after the election. That would seem to suggest Trump on trade is now thought of as a bit of a paper tiger.
Other people, like Bob Zoellick, whose judgment I respect greatly, a very smart guy — he seems to think Trump could do a lot of damage in the trade realm. Where do you stand on the spectrum of views?
IRWIN: Well, if we go back to this decentralized view of US trade policy, that’s partly been a check and a balance within the government of Trump just doing something very quickly.
Wilbur Ross and the Department of Commerce, they’ve encouraged higher steel tariffs, in some guise, under national security, what have you. That report has been delayed — delayed and delayed and delayed. The reason is because there are other agencies that can weigh in, other constituencies that can weigh in and say this isn’t good for diplomatic reasons, for national security reasons, for downstream user reasons, or something like that.
So you see the administration divided. The reflex can’t be activated because there are all these other parties that are getting their voice heard. Whereas, if you did centralize things, it might be very easy for that centralized authority to say, “This is what we’re going to do. It doesn’t matter if there are voices to the negative. We just won’t listen to them.”
I think you are referring to Bob’s Zoellick’s Wall Street Journal article of not too long ago. The damage is not so much in particular actions because we really haven’t seen many actions, except for pulling out of TPP, which, arguably, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would have done as well.
We haven’t seen the trade cases come to the president’s desk and higher tariffs being imposed or quotas or what have you. The damage is more the rhetoric in some sense. You’re alienating South Korea, an ally, during a very tense time.
You’re getting the Mexicans to actually think about, “Gee, we could live without NAFTA. We could stick it to the Americans like we used to in the past, instead of thinking about them as a partner because we’ve got all these other free trade agreements with the EU. We’d keep the one with Canada. We could keep TPP.”
There’s no gain to the US from that. We lose market access, in terms of exports, if we’re discriminated against. There is this deterioration and this rot that can set in.
COWEN: In all of these chats, we have a segment: “underrated or overrated?” I’ll toss some ideas out to you. You’re free to pass, if you’d like.
Underrated or overrated? Brexit.
IRWIN: It remains to be seen. I hate to punt and be a waffler.
COWEN: What does it depend upon?
IRWIN: It depends on whether it actually happens.
COWEN: Assuming it happens.
IRWIN: Assuming it happens, OK. When you listen to the debate, this is maybe Britain’s NAFTA, in some sense. If you went back to the NAFTA debate, you got some people saying it’s going to create a lot of jobs, create a lot of exports. It’s going to be a huge gain for the United States. Or the other side: huge number of jobs losses, disaster for the United States, a giant sucking sound, and what have you.
Then you lose the middle ground. The weight of the evidence, in my view, is that Britain would lose some of its market access to Western Europe. They’re going to lose some of their financial sector. And it’s not clear what they gain in terms of sovereignty, or regulatory freedom, is going to compensate for that loss of trade and investment.
COWEN: The movie Dunkirk.
IRWIN: I enjoyed it. It got a lot of criticism because it didn’t show the context or it didn’t show Churchill. But that’s not the purpose of the movie. The movie was to show what the men on the ground were feeling and reacting to, and I thought it succeeded. I liked it.
COWEN: Churchill, himself.
IRWIN: He’s very highly rated, and I think deservedly so. I don’t think he’s overrated or underrated.
IRWIN: I’ll punt on that one.
COWEN: The Smoot-Hawley or, perhaps, Hawley-Smoot Tariff.
IRWIN: Underrated or overrated?
IRWIN: It depends on what dimension. It’s gotten a lot of attention. I’m very happy with that because I have a book on it. More people should be aware of it and some of its costs. It does get brought up a lot in trade policy debates, mainly among wonks.
It used to be the reflex that a trade economist would bring about, saying disaster will happen if we impose this tariff. To that extent, the dirty little secret might be that it’s overrated because it didn’t cause the Great Depression. A lot of the weight that was put on it doesn’t support that. That said, it was a very bad thing.
COWEN: So its evils are overrated? It’s actually, in a funny way, underrated.
IRWIN: Yes. That’s right, yes. OK.
COWEN: You’ve now lived in or near Hanover for a long time, so the State of New Hampshire.
IRWIN: In other words, is it, what did President Trump say? It’s a hotbed of, a den of —
COWEN: Opioid use.
IRWIN: Opioid use, yes.
It’s a very beautiful place. It’s got the highest per capita income in the United States.
COWEN: Yes, how did you manage that?
IRWIN: I’m not sure. If you look at the southern part of the state, where I don’t live, Manchester, Nashua, it seems very prosperous. There’s a lot of spillover investment from the Boston area. Its proximity to Boston has been a great help.
It’s a little bit isolated. The winters are cold. I worry a little about — in fact, a lot of economists in the state worry about the demographics and the business climate. A lot of young people are not being attracted to the state. The business climate is not as favorable as we, in the state, like to think. We say, “We have no income tax. We have no sales tax. We want businesses to come here.” But the business taxes are more of a hurdle than one would think.
COWEN: If it’s the highest per capita income — and even if that’s measurement error, it must be near the top — why don’t more people want to live there?
IRWIN: Probably isolation. People are moving.
COWEN: If more people lived there, they wouldn’t feel so isolated, right? It seems like an easy equilibrium to get to. Just have people trickle in, as they did with California, and all of a sudden, you’ve got a lot of people.
IRWIN: Yeah, but you need the investment to draw people in or something. The Boston area has been much more flourishing, in terms of attracting young people, certainly professionals.
I’m not sure exactly what New Hampshire’s big claim to fame is. It’s an older state. Maybe that’s why it’s a high-income state. In the Hanover area, you’ve got a lot of doctors and things of that sort or retirees.
COWEN: What’s the story of the first time you met Milton Friedman?
IRWIN: [laughs] You know the story, actually?
COWEN: No, I don’t.
COWEN: But I was told to ask you.
IRWIN: There is a story. OK. Well, this was in 1987, I believe. I was at the Council of Economic Advisers, and I was in graduate school. A big fan of Friedman, read his column in Newsweek in the 1970s, in middle school.
I was very excited. He was going to give a talk to people in the administration. There was some room in the Old Executive Office Building where he was going to be speaking. I made sure to get there very early and to get a good seat right out front, so I could see him. So I sat literally in the front row, right in front of the podium, anxiously awaiting his arrival.
He comes in. The crowd fills in, but I’ve got the best seat. Of course, he was standing behind the podium, and I didn’t see anything but the top of his head for the hour that he lectured because he’s so short that he didn’t poke over the podium. I should have sat 10 rows back and I would have seen him. I did get to speak with him afterwards, but during his talk, I didn’t see him at all.
COWEN: What’s the influence of Jagdish Bhagwati on you and your ideas?
IRWIN: Very big impact. He was my thesis advisor. I took a number of courses with him at Columbia University. I learned two things from him.
One, he made economics very fun. I don’t know whether you’ve ever talked to him, but he’s always telling jokes. He’s a great raconteur. He has great stories. He’s laughing a lot, and that came across in his class. Economics is a fun activity. It’s a fun discipline. It’s not just sterile theory. I try to bring that little bit of joy and levity to economics, the way I teach it and hopefully the way I write about it as well.
The other thing I learned from him is marketing. This is back in the pre-internet era, pre-Twitter. We wrote a paper, when I was in graduate school. Not only was there a paper, but he got a New York Times column that we were allowed to write for the business section out of it. The Economist did a box on that article.
He was a master at disseminating his work, not just to other academics, but to journalists, to public policy professionals, and things of that sort. That’s one thing that I’ve also internalized a bit as well. You just can’t write a paper, submit it to a working paper series, and then send it to journals. You have to market it a little bit. That’s much easier today, in the age of Twitter, but back then, that was considered something very unusual.
COWEN: What’s your connection with Randall Scott Kroszner, who teachers at the University of Chicago Business School?
IRWIN: [tongue-in-cheek] I’m responsible for all of the success he’s had in his career because I interviewed him for a job with the Council of Economic Advisers. That was the first time we met. If I had said, “This guy doesn’t merit a position here,” he would have gone back to Harvard and nothing would have been heard from him since. By launching his career and getting him into the CEA, it made available many opportunities for him later on.
COWEN: Our last and final segment. I have a number of questions for you on international trade theory. These are super nerdy, super wonky. Feel free to give it full blast. When it comes to international trade, how much of it is driven by comparative advantage versus how much of it is driven by specialization?
IRWIN: It’s almost hard to separate those things out because they are reinforcing. Comparative advantage is a narrow concept, but it has a broad applicability. The way we teach it is, it’s just a technology factor. Specialization reinforces technological advantages in many senses. So I’m not sure I could load what percent of trade is due to comparative advantage. In some sense, a lot of it, but can’t give you a metric or a number.
COWEN: From 1990 to 2007, at least from the numbers we have, it seems that global trade rose at a rate about three times higher than global GDP. This now seems to have stopped. This is sometimes called the global trade slowdown, though it may just be the normal state of affairs, but why is there now a global trade slowdown?
IRWIN: My story for that is that what we saw in the 1990s is the great opening of the developing world, so China, India, and a bunch of African countries, other countries in Southeast Asia — Vietnam would be a great example, too.
You got this one-off, big effect of countries that had been relatively closed to world trade really reducing trade barriers significantly, and big boost to world trade growth as a result of that.
That’s a one-off thing. Once you’ve cut tariffs from 30 percent to 10 percent, or 5 percent, or something, if you further cut them, you’re just not going to get the growth and trade effects that you had before. So I think it’s a one-off effect of many developing countries entering into world trade, sometimes for the first time in a big way.
I’m not worried by the slowdown. Obviously, the world economy’s slowed down. That’s one reason why. But we shouldn’t expect world trade to grow at two or three times the growth of world GDP in perpetuity.
COWEN: Will this happen again with Africa and South Asia? After all, those are billions of people. Tariffs aside, their infrastructure is often so bad that the real tax on trade, all costs considered, is quite high now. You could imagine it falling a great amount, both by liberalization, but also by better infrastructure. So will we have this period again in the future?
IRWIN: Once again, the 1990s was special because we had the collapse of communism, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and so a lot of regime change that led to some of these things.
We need a big reform moment in Africa. I agree with you entirely that Africa’s the big chunk of the world where there are a lot of people, and they’re still very closed to trade. They both have trade policies and bad infrastructure that greatly increase trade costs. So if we’re going to see big growth in the future, you’d think that’s where it’s going to be.
But I don’t think we’re going to necessarily have a big reform moment in Africa where there’s a simultaneous opening up. It could be more piecemeal. It could be more drawn out over time. That’s where the growth could occur. I don’t think it’s going to be a big bang, like we saw in the 1990s.
COWEN: Globalization theorists used to write about the death of distance, it was called. That doesn’t actually seem to be true — what we call the gravity equation, how much trade depends on distance, it doesn’t seem to have changed much over time. That is, you still tend to trade with countries that are close to you. If you look at real estate values, what’s really gone up are a few major cities, such as New York City, London, San Francisco/Silicon Valley.
It seems location matters more than ever before, and yet there’s more trade. What’s the right way to think about that apparent paradox?
IRWIN: The death of distance may have more of an impact in terms of trade in services. For merchandise, there are shipping costs and things like that, and they have come down, of course. With services, either you need direct investment or it can be transmitted over the internet. So there, distance doesn’t matter quite as much.
COWEN: As you know, containerization was a big breakthrough for trading a lot of manufactured goods. It made it easy to automate, lowered a lot of costs. But services are much harder to trade, along many dimensions.
How optimistic are you about future series of technological breakthroughs — analogous to containerization but for services — that will make them much easier to trade and give us a fairly rapid trade boom in services?
IRWIN: Not particularly optimistic because, unlike manufactured goods or agricultural goods or merchandise in general, each service sector has its own specific trade costs, if you will. Financial services — every country has its own regime, its own regulatory regime. A lot of services are regulated locally. Harmonizing those is very difficult. It’s not like you have one single transport cost or a tax at the border. It’s more the regulatory regime with regard to services.
That’s why I think the WTO has actually — I wouldn’t say failed — but there is a GAATS, a General Agreement on Trade and Services. It’s a pretty, in my view, empty agreement. It doesn’t have a lot of deep commitments. It hasn’t stimulated a lot of growth in trade and services in my view. It has this vague language about nondiscrimination and what have you. Every service sector is different — airline services, banking services, insurance services. So these have to be addressed, not within one technology or one agreement, but it’s more piecemeal.
COWEN: There’s a phenomenon sometimes called premature deindustrialization. At times, it’s associated with the name of Dani Rodrik. That’s the claim that some parts of the world, possibly, for instance, Africa or some parts of South Asia, will never industrialize as, say, South Korea did because now manufacturing production is so automated and, as you note, it’s harder to trade services.
So they may be stuck in a kind of permanent rut. They industrialize to the extent they do by buying things from factories elsewhere, and they won’t ever go the same path that parts of East Asia did. Agree or disagree?
IRWIN: I don’t necessarily agree. When you look at the steel industry in the United States, it’s really become fragmented. You don’t have the big, integrated mills anymore. They’ve spread across the whole geography of the United States. You have the local mini-mills.
The same thing can happen in many developing countries. You can have a local, small steel industry that’s efficient, same with other things. You can still have this fragmentation of production and local production and not necessarily have everything centralized in one or two countries.
COWEN: But say you look at countries such as Brazil, India, South Africa. It seems their share of employment in manufacturing has stagnated and is even going down. It never reached 15 percent. Whereas in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, you have the share of employment in manufacturing going well over 25 percent, sometimes as high as 40 percent. It ends up falling, but you build a stable middle class first that supports a democracy. Is this a reason to be more pessimistic about the economic prospects of countries that have not yet industrialized?
IRWIN: I don’t know about pessimistic, but certainly they’re going to have to choose a different path. If these people are going to be going into services rather than manufacturing, it could be the schooling system is much more important to the extent that human capital is more important for services. They just can’t follow the old recipe that other countries did before them.
COWEN: Last question. What might you, Douglas A. Irwin, know about the history of Chicago School of Economics that the rest of us do not? And what are you planning on working on, on this particular question?
IRWIN: I’ve always been interested in that, particularly because there was something unique about Chicago in the 1930s. They had these people — James Buchanan, your former colleague — who would go there as a socialist and come out as a free-market advocate. In fact, he said that, within the first six weeks of Frank Knight’s course, he was converted. But he wasn’t the only one. Milton Friedman went in as a New Dealer and said Jacob Viner’s course on price theory opened his eyes.
There are many testimonies of other people, who go there with leftist views, but they come out thinking something else. To have that intellectual or ideological conversion in the 1930s, during the Great Depression of all periods, there must have been something going on in the classroom that is convincing people that, despite the problems we see, socialism or communism is not the correct alternative.
I’ve always been interested in what was Frank Knight teaching, Henry Simons, Jacob Viner that convinced people that the market-oriented system, despite its defects, is the right way to go.
COWEN: Doug, thank you very much. Again, I’d like to recommend your book, Clashing over Commerce: A History of US Trade Policy. Thank you, Doug.
FACT SHEET: United States-Canada Relationship
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mrs. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau in Washington, D.C. on March 10 for an Official Visit and a State Dinner at the White House. The visit is a hallmark of the deep friendship and extraordinary cooperation between our two countries.
The United States and Canada have a profound and multifaceted partnership and alliance, strengthened by shared values and interests. Our bilateral cooperation reflects our common history, ideals, and mutual commitment to address the most challenging bilateral, multilateral and global issues.
Climate Change, Clean Energy, and Environment
The United States and Canada have a long history of collaboration to develop energy resources and protect the environment and are committed to taking ambitious action to combat climate change and develop new sources of clean energy. To highlight our partnership and advance new joint efforts, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau today issued a Joint Statement on Climate, Energy and Arctic Leadership with specific plans to reduce carbon emissions and develop clean sources of energy. The statement commits the two countries to significantly reduce methane emissions, adopt an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down hydrofluorocarbons, and reach agreement on a market-based mechanism to limit carbon emissions from international aviation.
The United States and Canada share deeply integrated economies and enjoy the largest bilateral trade and investment relationship in the world. The almost 400,000 people and some $2 billion worth of goods and services that cross our border every day are a testament to the strength of our economic relationship. More than 1.3 million members participate in the NEXUS trusted traveler program, facilitating entry into each country for low-risk, pre-screened travelers.
The United States and Canada share the goal of enhancing shared prosperity, creating jobs, protecting workers and the environment, and promoting sustainable economic development. Recognizing that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which links together countries that represent nearly 40 percent of global GDP, would advance these objectives, Canada and the United States are working to complete their respective domestic processes.
The President and Prime Minister highlighted the need to further facilitate trade between our two countries. President Obama welcomed Prime Minister Trudeau’s interest in a new long-term agreement for softwood lumber. The Leaders agreed that the United States Trade Representative and the Canadian Minister of International Trade will intensively explore all options and report back within 100 days on the key features that would address this issue. The President noted recent legislative and regulatory action to repeal country of origin labeling requirements for beef and pork that bring the United States into compliance with its international trade obligations. Canada and the United States have a shared interest in a return to a fully integrated North American market for cattle and hogs that provides more opportunities and greater economic benefits for producers on both sides of the border.
The United States and Canada recognize the importance of regulatory cooperation to promote economic growth and benefits to our consumers and businesses. The U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council will: 1) generate and implement new regulatory cooperation initiatives 2) engage business and consumer expert groups to identify where and how regulatory cooperation could provide benefits to improve the health and safety of our citizens and 3) help agencies and departments to put in place ambitious commitments and work plans by early this summer.
Defense and National Security
The United States and Canada are indispensable allies in the defense of North America. The strength of this mutual commitment is illustrated by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the centerpiece of the U.S.-Canada military relationship. U.S. and Canadian forces jointly conduct aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning in defense of North America.
As members of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (C-ISIL), the United States and Canada are strongly committed to degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL. We are harnessing all elements of national power to achieve this goal: denying ISIL safe havens through our military operations and building the capacity of local partners stopping the flow of foreign terrorist fighters cutting off access to financing and funding countering ISIL’s narrative and supporting the stabilization of communities liberated from ISIL. We welcome Canada’s announcement on February 8 to enhance its C-ISIL cooperation to address the military, humanitarian, and development aspects of the conflict.
The United States and Canada worked with international partners to impose sanctions on Russia for its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea and its aggression in eastern Ukraine and to incentivize a diplomatic solution to the crisis. U.S. and Canadian forces are training Ukraine’s forces to enable them to deter threats and effectively defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
The United States and Canada welcome the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit. The two countries will take additional steps to expand our robust nuclear security cooperation and strengthen global nuclear security. While the Conference on Disarmament is the most appropriate forum for negotiations for a treaty dealing with fissile material, the United States and Canada believe the venue is less important than the issue.
Cyber Cooperation and Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience
The United States and Canada share an interest in preserving an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet, given its importance to our collective prosperity, security, and commitment to democracy and human rights. The United States and Canada are partnering on a new initiative in the Americas to strengthen regional participation in the G7 24/7 Network, which connects national law enforcement in the battle against high-tech crime.
Border and Law Enforcement Cooperation
The United States and Canada work together to address threats at the border as well as throughout the two countries, while expediting lawful cross-border trade and travel. Both countries have taken important steps to ensure the security of our nations, prevent criminal and terrorist actors from exploiting legitimate trade and travel, and expand North American perimeter security. We have jointly developed protocols to exchange information on those who present a clear threat, including exchanging our respective “No-Fly” lists, with appropriate protections for the handling and dissemination of such information and processes to correct inaccurate information. Additionally, the Government of Canada has assured the United States it will complete the last phase of a coordinated entry and exit information system so the record of land and air entries into one country establishes an exit record from the other.
The United States conducts preclearance operations at eight airports in Canada, more than in any other country. Canada is the only country in the world with which the United States has signed a new Preclearance agreement that covers all modes of transportation across our shared border. We are pleased the Trudeau government has reinforced its support for the Agreement and committed to passing the legislation necessary to implement it. In addition, we have agreed in principle to expand preclearance to the following sites: Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport, Montréal Rail, and Rocky Mountaineer. Such expansion is contingent upon each site meeting all terms and conditions of the Agreement, including recovery of costs for the deployment of CBP officers at new preclearance locations in Canada.
Indigenous peoples have great political and cultural importance for the United States and Canada. The diverse indigenous communities in both nations have strong connections across the border. Supporting indigenous peoples’ social and economic aspirations is a priority for the United States and Canada. In the coming months, the countries will share information on self-governance policy to improve service delivery for First Nations. Canada has also agreed to provide to the United States government agencies insight into its consultation with indigenous communities on federal land.
The core values the United States and Canada share – democracy, justice, freedom – provide the basis for our cooperation in multilateral institutions. Our countries provide leadership that enables international institutions to respond to crises and support communities in need.
Canada and the United States are committed to strengthening U.N. peace operations by increasing the effectiveness of these operations and reforming and modernizing them to meet the challenges of today’s complex conflicts. Last year, President Obama hosted a Summit on Peacekeeping on the margins of the U.N General Assembly. We welcome Canada’s consideration of peacekeeping contributions in Africa consistent with the needs identified at the Summit.
The United States and Canada share a commitment to refugee protection and assistance. For years, the United States and Canada have been leading humanitarian donors and maintained two of the world’s largest refugee resettlement programs. The countries have announced and begun to implement significant expansions in their resettlement of Syrian refugees. We applaud Canada’s achievement in resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees in roughly four months and its plans to resettle thousands more this year. Building upon this record, both the United States and Canada will strive to make even more robust commitments in 2016, and urge other countries to do the same, as we look forward to the Refugee Summit President Obama will host at the UN General Assembly in September.
The U.S.-Canada partnership to improve the well-being of people around the world includes efforts to increase access to energy in sub-Saharan Africa. The United States and Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to support the development of the energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa, including through Power Africa, an initiative announced by President Obama in 2013 to double access to power across this region. This partnership will enable the United States and Canada to accelerate efforts to harness Africa’s vast renewable energy potential and provide electricity to millions of people across the continent, and deepen coordination in the implementation of commitments under the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative including through U.S. investments under Power Africa as well as Canada’s pledge of $150 million under the Initiative. It will also expand Power Africa’s reach in francophone countries.
Collaboration to Empower Adolescent Girls
The United States and Canada commit to working together to support the empowerment of adolescent girls around the world who are held back from reaching their full potential. Reducing the barriers to education – such as lack of access, early pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, as well as abusive practices such as early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation/cutting – is critical to advancing the shared foreign policy, security and development priorities of the United States and Canada, including the 2030 Global Development Agenda. In the coming days, Secretary of State John Kerry will launch the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls to guide comprehensive efforts in this space.
Beginning with Tanzania and subsequently other countries where high numbers of girls are out of school, the United States and Canada will identify opportunities to leverage our respective education programs to strengthen the impact of Let Girls Learn, a U.S. initiative to help ensure that adolescent girls around the world attain a quality education that empowers them to reach their full potential. To that end, the United States and Canada will deepen our collaboration to address the barriers that keep adolescent girls from completing their education, including ending child, early and forced marriage and addressing the health concerns of adolescent girls. Through the Global Financing Facility for Every Woman Every Child—to which the U.S. has committed $50 million—the U.S. and Canada are working to address the health needs of women, children and adolescents in a number of key countries, including Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Kenya. Knowing that lack of access to education contributes to a girls’ vulnerability to HIV, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. is also targeting high prevalence geographic areas in 10 sub-Saharan African countries with DREAMS, a $385 million public/private partnership to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in those areas.
Global Health Security Agenda and Zika Response
The United States and Canada are partnering to advance the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to infectious disease threats. In this regard, the United States will support 31 countries with its allocation of $1 billion for GHSA, and Canada will support 14 countries. Canada announced it will provide up to $20 million in 2016 to assist an additional 15 countries to fulfill commitments under the GHSA. The United States and Canada will collaborate with Jordan to support the implementation of each of the GHSA targets. The United States and Canada agreed to closely coordinate assistance, including by developing national plans with other countries to achieve GHSA targets, and by supporting external assessments to achieve specific, measurable outcomes. Both countries also agreed to continue to help West Africa in 2016 to mitigate the threat posed by Ebola and other infectious diseases.
The United States and Canada agree on the importance of addressing the Zika virus outbreak in the Western Hemisphere. Both countries committed to combat Zika and other vector-borne diseases via surveillance and laboratory capacity, sharing laboratory specimens, and developing medical countermeasures including diagnostics. Both countries also agreed to deploy scientists and public health experts to countries in the region to respond to vector-borne disease outbreaks. In addition, they committed to support international institutions operating in the region such as the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, the Caribbean Public Health Agency, non-governmental organizations, and academic and research institutions.
North American Leaders Summit
President Obama looks forward to meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at the next North American Leaders Summit, to be held in Canada this summer. All three countries recognize the value of a more integrated North America to advance the security and prosperity of the continent.
The United States and Canada share a longstanding commitment to cooperation in the Western Hemisphere in support of democracy, rule of law, human rights, economic growth and opportunity, free trade, humanitarian assistance, and sustainable development. We work closely together in areas such as counternarcotics, conflict resolution, defense cooperation, and institutional reform. Our mutual support for the peace process and demining efforts in Colombia, democratic transition and rule of law in Haiti, and forthcoming efforts against Zika represent our strong commitment to our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere.
The Pig War
According to the treaty verbiage, the water boundary between the two nations was to run along the 49th parallel to the middle of the Strait of Georgia and then south through the middle of the the channel, then out the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the sea. This left the San Juan Islands in dispute.
San Juan Island National Historical Park celebrates how individuals and nations can resolve disputes without resorting to violence. For it was here in the mid-1800s that Great Britain and the United States settled ownership of the island through peaceful arbitration. Watch former park historian, Mike Vouri, give a brief overview of the Pig War.
The dispute is perhaps the best-known period in island history. But the park also encompasses a rich and diverse environment that cannot be separated from the island’s 3,000-year human history. Long before the arrival of Europeans, the island sheltered a thriving culture attracted by its temperate climate, rich soil, abundant timber and marine resources. These same attributes lured Spain, Great Britain and the United States. Each explored, charted and named the islands while staking overlapping claims to the Oregon County-- the present states of Washington Oregon, Idaho, portions of Wyoming and Montana and the province of British Columbia.
Spain had abandoned its claims by the time an Anglo-American agreement in 1818 provided for joint occupation of the region. Although lucrative trade agreements and capital investments existed between the two nations, primarily on the Eastern seaboard, tensions mounted among those living in the Oregon Country. Americans considered the British presence an affront to their "manifest destiny." The British believed they had a legal right to lands guaranteed by earlier treaties, explorations and commercial activities of the Hudson's Bay Company.
Nevertheless, in June 1846 the Treaty of Oregon was signed in London, setting the boundary on the 49 th parallel, from the Rocky Mountains "to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver's Island” then south through the channel to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and west to the Pacific Ocean.
The Hudson's Bay Company established Belle Vue Sheep Farm on San Juan Island's Cattle Point Peninsula to affirm the company's and Great Britain's claim to the disputed islands.
Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Book and Manuscript Collection.
Difficulty arose over language. The "channel" described in the treaty was actually two channels: the Haro Strait, nearest Vancouver Island, and the Rosario Strait, nearer the mainland. The San Juan Islands lay between, and both sides claimed the entire island group.
As early as 1845 the Hudson's Bay Company, based at Fort Victoria, claimed San Juan Island, only seven miles across the Haro Strait. By 1851 the company established salmon-curing stations along the island's western shoreline. By 1853, the islands were claimed as U.S. possessions in the newly created Washington Territory. In response, the HBC in December 1853 established Belle Vu Sheep Farm on San Juan Island's southern shore. While this move was politically motivated, the island's natural attributes made the farm a lucrative concern. The flock in a mere six years expanded from 1,369 to more than 4,500 scattered in sheep stations throughout the island.
Reports of the island's good soil and bountiful resources by Northwest Boundary Survey naturalists quickly circulated among American settlers on the mainland. By spring 1859, 18 Americans had settled on claims staked on BC prime sheep grazing lands. These they expected the U.S. Government to recognize as valid. But the British considered the claims illegal and the claimants little more than "squatters" or trespassers. Tempers were growing shorter by the day.
The crisis came on June 15, 1859, when Lyman Cutlar, an American, shot and killed a company pig rooting in his garden. When British authorities threatened to arrest Cutlar and evict all his countrymen from the island as trespassers, a delegation sought military protection from Brig. Gen. William S. Harney, the anti-British commander of the Department of Oregon. Harney responded by ordering Company D, 9th U.S. Infantry under Capt. George E. Pickett (of later Civil War fame) to San Juan. Pickett's 64-man unit landed on July 27 and encamped near the HBC wharf on Griffin Bay, just north of Belle Vue Sheep Farm.
The "Home Prairie" or "Establishment" of the Belle Vue Sheep Farm today. Prairies were ideal for fledgling farmers because one did not have to cut down and pull the stumps of old-growth Douglas firs.
Vancouver Island Gov. James Douglas was at first dismayed, then angered by Pickett’s landing. His response was to dispatch Capt. Geoffrey Phipps Hornby, RN, commanding the 31-gun steam frigate HMS Tribune, to dislodge Pickett, but to avoid an armed clash if possible. Hornby was soon joined by two more warships, HMS Satellite and HMS Plumper with 21 and 10 guns respectively, the latter also with 46 Royal Marines and 15 Royal Engineers aboard. Pickett refused to withdraw and wrote Harney for help.
Throughout the remaining days of July and well into August, Hornby accumulated more marines the majority veterans of amphibious landings under fire in China. However, Hornby wisely refused to take any action against the Americans until the arrival of Rear Adm. R. Lambert Baynes, commander of British naval forces in the east Pacific. Baynes, appalled at the situation, advised Douglas that he would not "involve two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig."
Capt. George E. Pickett's first camp was located just west of the Hudson's Bay Company dock (left center).The above watercolor was done by a Royal Navy midshipman while standing on the deck of HMS Satellite. The date on the back of the painting reads July 27, 1859 -- the very day Pickett landed.
Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Book and Manuscript Library
The third U.S. Army camp was located among the trees just north of Belle Vue Sheep Farm headquarters. The conical Sibley tents were shipped from Fort Steilacoom.
Meanwhile, Pickett was reinforced on August 10, by 171 men under Lt. Col. Silas Casey, who assumed command and, with Pickett in tow, went to Victoria to parley with Baynes. The old admiral (a veteran of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815) refused to leave his 84-gun ship of the line, HMS Ganges, to call upon Casey aboard a lighthouse tender. A disappointed Casey took note of the Ganges’ size and on his return to San Juan pleaded for more men.
By August 31, 461 Americans were encamped in the woods just north of Belle Vue Sheep Farm, protected by 14 field cannons. Eight more 32-pounder naval guns were removed from the USS Massachusetts to be emplaced in a redoubt excavated under the direction of 2 nd . Lt. Henry M. Robert (future author of Robert’s Rules of Order).
While the Americans dug in, the British conducted drills with their 52 total guns, alternately hurling solid shot into the bluffs and raised rocks along Griffin Bay. It was all great fun for tourists arriving on excursion boats from Victoria, not to mention the officers from both sides who attended church serves together aboard the Satellite and shared whisky and cigars in Charles Griffin’s tidy home.
But when word of the crisis reached Washington, officials from both nations, unaware of the bizarre atmosphere on San Juan, were shocked that Cutlar’s pig murder had grown into a potentially explosive international incident. Alarmed by the prospect, President James Buchanan sent General Winfield Scott, U.S. Army commander and also a War of 1812 veteran, to investigate and try to contain the affair. Scott had calmed two other border crises between the two nations in the late 1830s.
(From left)Capt. George E. Pickett, USA (photo is of him as Confederate general) Brig. Gen. William Selby Harney, USA Vancouver Island Gov. James Douglas and Capt. Geoffrey Phipps Hornby, RN. It was through these four that the Pig War crisis unfolded in July 1859. Click on the image to watch park historian Mike discuss the interaction of these men during the Pig War during a recent interview on C-SPAN.
Following a six-week passage from New York via the Isthmus of Panama, Scott arrived in the San Juan’s in October. Communicating with Douglas via messenger the two leaders arranged for each nation to withdraw reinforcements, leaving the island with a single company of U.S. soldiers and a British warship anchored in Griffin Bay.
Scott proposed a joint military occupation until a final settlement could be reached, which both nations approved in November. Harney was officially rebuked and eventually reassigned for allowing the situation to needlessly escalate. Casey's soldiers were withdrawn, save for one company under the command of Capt. Lewis Cass Hunt. Pickett returned to replace Hunt the following April. Meanwhile, on March 21, 1860, British Royal Marines landed on the island's northwest coast and established on Garrison Bay what is now known as "English Camp."
The Royal Marine camp was established 13 miles north on Garrison Bay. Royal navy officials wanted to maintain a healthy distance from the U.S. camp. The blockhouse (right center) and the storehouse (third building from left) still stand.
Capt. William Addis Delacombe and his family on the front steps of the Commandant's House at the Royal Marine camp.
San Juan Island remained under joint military occupation for the next 12 years. In 1871, when Great Britain and the United States signed the Treaty of Washington, the San Juan question was referred to Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany for settlement. The kaiser referred the issue to a three-man arbitration commission who met for nearly a year in Geneva. On October 21, 1872, the commission, through the kaiser, ruled in favor of the United States, establishing the boundary line through Haro Strait. Thus the San Juan Islands became American possessions and the final boundary between Canada and the United States was set. On November 25, 1872, the Royal Marines withdrew from English Camp. By July 1874, the last of the U.S. troops had left American Camp. Peace had finally come to the 49th parallel, and San Juan Island would be long remembered for the "war" in which the only casualty was a pig.
Want to learn more? Read former park Historian Mike Vouri's The Pig War: Standoff at Griffin Bay (Second Edition, 2013), available on park partner Discover Your Northwest's online store and in bookstores throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The Royal Marine Cemetery on the slopes of Young Hill above English Camp is a lasting memorial to the peaceful joint occupation of San Juan Island.
A Brief History of the Saint Lawrence River
In 1535, Jacques Cartier (1491-1557) became the first European explorer to sail up the Saint Lawrence River during his second trip to the region. Of course, he was not the first European to have explored the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and at the time the area was home to the St. Lawrence Iroquoians. Cartier named the river after Saint Lawrence (225-58), as he arrived in its tidal mouth on August 10th, which is his feast day.
However, Cartier ended up being blocked from going further just southwest of where Montreal now stands because of the Lachine Rapids. Over time, the waterway was shaped to become a way to navigate into the interior of the North American continent. The major catalysts for this over the 19th century were the building of the Erie Canal (1825), the first canal near Niagara Falls (Welland Canal, 1829) and the first locks at Sault Sainte Maire, Michigan (1855).
However, the United States was reluctant to open the Saint Lawrence to accommodate sea traffic to the Great Lakes throughout the first half of the 21st century. It took until 1954 for Congress to approve the country's participation in the joint effort to build the Saint Lawrence Seaway after two rebuffed efforts in the previous decades. The seaway then formally opened five years later in a joint ceremony lead by President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) and Queen Elizabeth II.
That Time the U.S. Almost Went to War With Canada
Kevin Lippert is founder and publisher of Princeton Architectural Press. He is the author of War Plan Red: The United States’ Secret Plan to Invade Canada and Canada’s Secret Plan to Invade the United States.
Since President Donald Trump lambasted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “weak” and “dishonest” earlier this month during a trade dispute, many have been shaking their heads in disbelief. Isn’t the U.S. supposed to be friends with Canada, its largest trading partner by far, wartime ally, primary supplier of crude oil and home to as many as 2 million Americans living abroad?
Not necessarily. Trump might not realize that his war of words with the younger and more handsome Trudeau is just one more cross-border squabble in a 200-year history of them. You think the U.S.-Canada relationship has always been as sweet as maple syrup? In fact, it’s long been beset by petty bickering and jealousies. The countries even once saw each other as serious geopolitical foes—going so far as to develop detailed war plans to invade one another. Let’s hope Trump doesn’t decide to make a trip to the Library of Congress archive anytime soon.
The animosity goes back to the War of 1812, when troops from Canada—then a British colony—marched to Washington, D.C., finished James and Dolly Madison’s unfinished dinner and burned down the White House. After that disastrous war, which both sides claim to have won, fighting between the U.S. and Canada devolved into a series of disputes over just where the border between the two lay, and, quite literally, whose trees or pigs were on which side—a question now thankfully answered by aerial imagery and GPS markers.
Most of these altercations have comical names, revealing the often flimsy reasons behind the disagreements. The Lumberjack, or Pork and Beans War—so called after the lumberjacks’ favorite meal—took place from 1838 to 1839. It started over an argument about who could chop down the dense forests on the border between Maine and New Brunswick. After Congress authorized a force of 50,000 men to march northward to defend what the U.S. believed to be its trees, Secretary of State Daniel Webster and the British Chancellor of the Exchequer Baron Ashburton came to an agreement, redrawing the borders to increase the size of Maine. “The whole territory we were wrangling about was worth nothing,” Ashburton later sniffed, justifying his sacrifice.
Twenty years later, in 1859, an argument about the value of a Canadian pig shot while rooting for potatoes in an American’s garden in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington quickly escalated into a full-on naval showdown, known as the Pig War. With 500 American troops and a single ship, the USS Massachusetts, facing off against 2,000 British troops and five warships, the governor of Vancouver ordered the British to attack the weaker Americans. Thankfully, the conflict was resolved with a bit of humor, when Royal Navy Rear Admiral Robert Baynes refused his orders, defusing the tensions by pointing out that “to engage two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig would be foolish.” Both sides agreed to retreat, keeping just 100 men each on either end of San Juan before the borders were made official in 1870. If calm-headedness and a sense of humor are needed to defuse cross-border tensions with Canada, there may well be cause for worry under the current administration.
The calm didn’t last long. In 1861, during the Civil War, the U.S. Navy arrested two Confederate diplomats traveling to Britain—which had remained neutral—on a British ship, the Trent. Both sides bristled, the governor general of Canada ordered troops to the border and the British accused the U.S. secretary of state of masterminding the whole affair as an excuse to invade Canadian territory. (Canadians had watched that “annexation” of Texas pretty closely.) Eventually, Lincoln decided that one war was enough for the moment and released the Confederate envoys—averting a military clash.
Six years later, Canada gained its independence from Britain, but the new country’s fears of an invasion by its voracious southern neighbor remained acute. Canada, which didn’t acquire its own official army until 1899, continued to rely mainly on Britain for defense. And after Britain withdrew its troops in 1871, Canada was left with only Britain’s verbal assurance that it would come to the rescue if the United States decided to try and annex its northern neighbor, as so many on both sides of the border assumed it would.
World War I, which gave America a new place among the world’s most powerful nations, sent these fears to a new high. After the war ended in 1919, Canadian military brass looked to assess their own preparedness for another world war fought closer to home, and commissioned war hero Buster Brown (no relation to the shoe) to create a war plan for invading the U.S.
The planned Canadian invasion of the United States. | War Plan Red by Kevin Lippert. (Princeton Architectural Press)
Brown donned a disguise, grabbed his Kodak and set out in a Model T to do some reconnaissance along the New York and Vermont borders. He sent back some unintentionally funny commentary. “If Americans are not actually lazy, they have a very deliberate way of working and apparently believe in frequent rests and gossip,” and “the women of the rural districts appear to be a heavy and not very comely lot.” In 1921, following his undercover mission, Brown produced Defense Scheme No. 1, a five-pronged attack designed to invade the United States in “flying columns” of troops across the border and occupy such cities as Portland, Fargo, Niagara and Albany. Maine, of course, would be returned to Canada as well.
The U.S. and Canada have agreed to disagree over a few remaining sections of land, including Machias Seal Island in the east, which has a Canadian lighthouse but is claimed by the U.S.
There is also the matter of the Northwest Passage, which Canada says is hers but the U.S. says is international shipping waters. A small piece off territorial waters off the coast of the Yukon (a Canadian Territory) is claimed by the U.S. as a special economic zone.
As far as we know, there are no more plans to invade, however. It was a long road, but in the end, Canada and the United States reached a harmonious relationship that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific.