Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Scott W. See

Second Committee Member

Jacques Ferland

Third Committee Member

Richard Judd


Smuggling has been an important problem in American-Canadian relations. Yet the nature of smuggling is little understood; it is by definition an elusive, secretive, and subtle practice. This dissertation explores smuggling as a social force within a border community on the United States-Canada boundary. Smuggling almost always involved the illicit crossing of political boundaries, and as such can be used as a means of studying popular attitudes toward the creation of national borders. Moreover, because smuggling is directly related to the transition to modem capitalism, this study sheds light on the roots of both American and Canadian economic development. The Passamaquoddy region that straddles the border between Maine in the United States and New Brunswick in what is now Canada offers an ideal example of borderlands smuggling in the years following the American Revolution to the end of the War of 18 12. During this period, the international border running through Passamaquoddy was extremely ill-defined and subject to periodic military action and diplomatic correction. By 1783, two oppositional groups settled Passamaquoddy. Loyalist adherents to the British Crown settled the New Brunswick side of Passamaquoddy Bay, while republican Americans settled the Maine side. Despite the ideological differences of these two groups, and various laws that often prohibited trade between them, Passamaquoddy residents engaged in a lively smuggling trade even when the United States and Great Britain were fighting the War of 18 12. The accommodation between Loyalists and Americans at Passamaquoddy provides an opportunity to compare the historical experience of Canada and the United States, both of which have developed extensive frontier mythologies. The theoretical basis for this study is "borderlands theory," which emphasizes modes of accommodation rather than conflict on the North American frontier. Smuggling thus provides a means to analyze the creation of the border between the United States and Canada, to compare the American and Canadian frontier experience, and to understand the transition to capitalism.

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