The Toledo War of 1835

Updated July 24, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The Question:

I just moved to Toledo, Ohio, and found out about the war between Ohio and Michigan and want to know where to find more about it. I thought it was bogus, but then I found a monument that talked about it and now I'm interested in learning more. Any ideas where I can find out more?

The Answer:

Barely a footnote in most U.S. history books, the Toledo War of 1835 was brief and had no fatalities, but it meant a great deal to the two states involved.

By 1835 Ohio had been in the union for 32 years, but its neighbor to the north-the Michigan territory-had yet to achieve statehood. In the eyes of Ohioans at that time, Michigan was nothing more than unclaimed wilderness which they could annex at will.

So the Ohio legislature disregarded the boundary set by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and claimed its new boundary would run along a line north of the Maumee River. This gave it Toledo, and more importantly, access to Lake Erie. It was a section of land that totaled about 450 square miles and became known as the Toledo Strip. It was a wedge-shaped strip five miles wide at the Indiana border and eight miles wide at Lake Erie.

When Michigan petitioned to become a state in 1835, Ohio put pressure on Congress to support its new boundary arrangement. Governors from both states organized militiamen and marched into the marshes of the Toledo Strip. Shots were fired, but there was no contact between the troops. A decision by President Andrew Jackson officially put an end to the "war."

Jackson, who was entrenched in the election of 1836, sided for the state of Ohio and its electoral votes, awarding it the Toledo Strip. In exchange for giving up the land, Michigan was granted its statehood and awarded the western three-quarters of the Upper Peninsula (north of Lake Michigan), which didn't turn out to be such a bad deal considering that the 9,000-square-mile acquisition would turn out to hold some of the country's most valuable copper, timber and iron.

You can read more about the "war" in this article from the Detroit News and this article from Michigan's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

-The Editors

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