The Republic of Indian Stream (1832-1835)
Double taxation without representation? No wonder this grey area declared its independence.
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
The territorial history of the US seems pretty straightforward: 13 British colonies on the eastern seaboard secede at the end of the eighteenth century, then follow their ‘Manifest Destiny’ westward, eventually encompassing 50 states by the middle of the twentieth century.
There are, however, ‘territorial anomalies’ that serve as interesting footnotes to this consolidation of empire. One of them is the Republic of Indian Stream: a self-declared (but unrecognised) republic in a ‘grey area’ between the US and Canada, that existed from 1832 to 1835. Although very small and sparsely populated (the ‘Streamers’ never numbered more than about 300), the RoIS boasted a constitution and an elected government.
The ‘grey area’ in which the RoIS was established, resulted from an ambiguity in the Treaty of Paris (1783), which established the border between the newly independent US and the remainder of British North America. It defined the border between the US and (what was to become) Canada in the north of New Hampshire as the northwesternmost head of the Connecticut River. There are however several possibilities, as shown on the map: the heads of Hall’s, Indian and Perry Streams, and Third Lake, the origin of the Connecticut River itself.
Obviously, the US and Britain each interpreted the ambiguity to their maximum advantage, the US considering Hall’s Stream the border between the two states, and Britain opting for the waterway beginning at Third Lake. As a result of this, the area in between was neither here nor there. Except for tax purposes. Both states sent tax and debt collectors into the area – which chagrined the inhabitants so much that they declared their independence… but only until the Americans and the British could sort out their differences.
Things came to a head when a band of Streamers invaded Canada to liberate one of their countrymen from custody. This particular Streamer had been arrested by a British sheriff because of an unpaid hardware store debt. The invading posse shot up the judge’s house where their compatriot was held. This caused an international incident – even if the idea of going to war over a case of shoplifting seems a bit over the top.
As the Brits and Yanks agreed to resolve this particular border dispute, the Streamers hastily voted to be annexed by the US. The New Hampshire Militia occupied the area shortly thereafter. Britain relinquished its claim in 1836 and the border was established according to the ‘maximalist’ American interpretation of the Treaty of Paris.
In 1840, the area of the RoIS was incorporated as the township of Pittsburg, which still is the largest township in the US, covering about 750 km². The dispute was definitively resolved in 1842 in the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which mainly dealt with the establishment of the boundary between (what were to become) the US state of Maine and the Canadian province of New Brunswick.
This map was taken from this Wikipedia page.
Strange Maps #27
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are we trying to solve too many problem with technological solutions?
- Technology has given humanity the amazing ability to fix almost any problem, conditioning us to search for technological remedies to what might be social problems.
- Alleviating social inequity is a problem that technology must necessarily attempt to solve, but technology alone cannot shape how humans assemble their societies.
- Only by emphasizing the primary place of individual identity, human dignity, and universal values like empathy and emotion, can we hope to solve global issues that, so far, technology has been unable to conquer.
Radical Transformational Leadership: Strategic Action for Change Agents
With his collected letters recently being published, it's time to revisit this extraordinary thinker.
- Though the British philosopher died in 1973, his work continues to make an impact.
- A recently published collection, The Collected Letters Alan Watts, is a deep dive into his personal correspondences.
- Watts was an early proponent for spreading Eastern philosophy to Western culture.
Long hidden under trees, it's utterly massive
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