The Aroostook War was a two-month standoff during the winter of 1839 between Maine and New Brunswick. Overlapping boundary claims had created a disputed territory rich in timber but lacking organization. Troops were mobilized, but war was averted when national leaders in Washington and London recoiled at the prospect of a third war between the two nations. The “war” has been dismissed by contemporary observers and historians alike because of the lack of shots fired. What has largely been overlooked, however, is the large body of political rhetoric churned out by Maine’s Democrats and Whigs during the dispute. In examining this rhetoric, themes of honor, rights, and obligation emerge. While the war drums eventually faded, this rhetoric contributed to a new self-identity in Maine. A “phenomenalized” (or imagined) geography of the state emerged, in which residents of the young state were able to project their values and ambitions upon the undeveloped disputed territory. The author is a Ph.D. candidate in Canadian-American History at the University of Maine and a recipient of the University of Maine Canadian-American Center’s New England, Quebec, and Atlantic Provinces research fellowship. His current research interests include the northeastern borderlands, identity in nineteenth-century North America, and the employment of rhetoric in early republican politics. He resides in Brewer with his wife, Rebeckah, and daughters Lucy and Clara.
Perry, Michael T.. "“Maine and Her Soil, or Blood!”: Political Rhetoric and Spatial Identity during the Aroostook War in Maine." Maine History 47, 1 (2013): 68-93. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mainehistoryjournal/vol47/iss1/5