Article Index

 Battles of the Toledo War

Although one person was injured and there was one fatality (a horse belonging to Lewis E. Bailey of Michigan) during the conflict, there was only one recognized "battle." Even then, the Battle of Phillips Corner was not much of a battle by traditional standards.

Despite full knowledge of growing hostilities due to Mason's continued enforcement of the Pains and Penalties Act, in March of 1835, Governor Lucas instructed a group of men – led by Uri Seely of Geauga County, Jonathan Taylor of Licking County, and John Patterson of Adams County – to re-mark the northern border of the state according to the Harris Line. The project began on April 2, the day after Michigan elections in the Toledo area (Ohio would have theirs four days later).

On April 25, a small group of men from Adrian, Michigan encountered the "line-runners" from Ohio, intent on enforcing the Pains and Penalties Act. When the line-runners tried to flee arrest, warning shots were fired over their heads. All of the line-runners were arrested and taken to nearby Tecumseh, but the three men commissioned by Lucas escaped and reported back to him in Perrysburg.

The only casualty sustained during the "war" occurred in mid-July (the date is disputed), when Two Stickney, son of Major Benjamin Stickney and brother of One Stickney, stabbed Monroe County Deputy Sheriff Joseph Wood during an attempted arrest in the Toledo Strip.  Governor Mason immediately ordered Two Stickney’s arrest. A large force tried to apprehend him, but he managed to escape again. In this attempt, however, the posse was able to arrest the elder Stickney and four other Ohioans. Mason demanded the extradition of Two Stickney to Michigan, but Lucas did not comply.

National Involvement and the End of the Toledo War

After discussing the Battle of Phillips Corner and contacting President Andrew Jackson by letter, Lucas dispatched Noah H. Swayne, William Allen, and David T. Disney to confer with the President in person. Jackson, with his Presidency already on shaky ground, wanted an end to this skirmish as soon as possible, preferably with no federal government involvement.

Even after the Battle of Phillips Corner and the Stickney incident, Lucas ordered the continuation of the re-marking of the border line, and again, Mason did not relent. This time, however, the federal government was firmly on Ohio's side. Mason was removed from office at the end of August, with Judge Charles Schuler of Pennsylvania installed in his place. When Schuler passed on the offer, John Horner of Virginia was given the position instead. In a show of support from the Michigan people, Mason was elected Governor (although Michigan had not been officially recognized as a state) and worked alongside Horner. After the crisis ended, Horner moved on to the Wisconsin Territory.

Michigan would continue to operate as though it were a state, electing Lucius Lyon and John Norvell Senators and Issac Crary Representative for the House. Although none of them would be permitted to vote in their respective chambers, they were allowed to stay as observers.

With the border line completed in November of 1835, Congress now took on the border dispute. In early 1836, Norvell and Crary informed Mason that the only way Michigan could gain statehood was to end the border conflict, turn over the Toledo Strip, and accept most of what is now the Upper Peninsula. On June 15, 1836, President Jackson signed into law the Northern Ohio Boundary Bill, which made the offer of the Upper Peninsula in exchange for the Toledo Strip official.

In late September, the delegation met in Ann Arbor to discuss ratification of the compromise. The first attempt at passing it failed.  After four days of discussion, the legislature accepted the proposal in October. The second attempt to pass the compromise was convened on December 14, 1836, with the delegates voting to accept the proposal. The “Frostbitten Convention,” as it was called, had officially ended the Toledo War.

Michigan and Ohio Governors Woodbridge N. Ferris and Frank B. Willis declaring truce over state line markers, 1915Michigan and Ohio Governors Woodbridge N. Ferris and Frank B. Willis declaring truce over state line markers, 1915

The area that is currently Northwest Ohio was officially given to the state of Ohio on December 27, 1836. On January 26, 1837, two years to the day that Governor Mason signed the Enabling Act, Jackson made good on his end of the compromise and admitted Michigan to the Union as the 26th state.

Importance of the Toledo War

What would the futures of Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin have been if Northwest Ohio had remained a part of Michigan? Would the city of Detroit have played such an important role in the state’s economy if Toledo were also in Michigan? Would the spike in Toledo’s population and wealth due to the glass and gas booms of the late 19th century have occurred if it were a Michigan city, thus not receiving funds from the state of Ohio for its canals?

What of west-central Ohio? Although this area would be populated eventually, without the canal projects that pushed travelers further south, the growth of these cities might not have occurred until the advancement of the railroad towards the end of the 19th century, or the automobile in the early part of the 20th.

And what would have become of northern Wisconsin if it had acquired the Upper Peninsula’s vast quantities of natural resources that went instead to Michigan, before Wisconsin had a national voice? It is possible that the northern portion of Michigan would not have grown as it has if the valuable resources of the area were under Wisconsin’s control.

Although the Toledo War was a skirmish over a relatively small tract of land, it would have drastically altered the future of these three states and possibly even more of the surrounding area had the outcome been different.


Galloway, Tod. The Ohio-Michigan Boundary Line Dispute Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly. Volume 1. 1896. Pg. 199-231.

George, Sis. Mary Karl. The Rise and Fall of Toledo...Michigan. Michigan Historical Society. Lansing, MI. 1971.

Jones, Tom. The War Between Michigan and Ohio. The Detroit News. May 21, 2000.

Mendenhall, T. C. and A. A. Graham. Boundary Line Between Ohio and Indiana, and Between Ohio and Michigan. Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly. Volume 4. 1896. Pg. 127-199.

Way, W.V. The Facts and Historical Events of the Toledo War of 1835: As Connected with the First Session of the Court of Common Pleas of Lucas County. Daily Commercial Steam Book and Job Printing House. Toledo, OH. 1869.

Winter, Nevin O. A History of Northwest Ohio: A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress and Development from the First European Exploration of the Maumee and Sandusky Valleys and the Adjacent Shores of Lake Erie, Down to Present Time. The Lewis Publishing Group. Chicago. 1917.


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