The Aroostook War, often remembered as The Bloodless War or the Pork and Beans War, is often overlooked in Maine history. Beginning in February of 1839 and lasting a little over a month, the war was the culmination of a long dispute over the international boundary between the United States and British North America, particularly at the Maine and New Brunswick border. The dispute can be traced back to the end of the Revolutionary War with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The Treaty established a boundary between the United States and British North America that would remain unclear, and eventually led to the conflict between Maine and New Brunswick. In 1831, King William of the Netherlands was asked to arbitrate the dispute. He settled on a compromise that was accepted by the British, but was rejected by the United States Senate, in large part due to pressure from Maine.
When the military conflict ended with a truce in March of 1839, the Federal Government stepped in to work with the British Government to firmly establish the boundary. After a few years of surveying and deliberation, the Webster-Ashburton Treaty was signed in 1842, ending the dispute and establishing the international boundary.
The Maine State Archives, Maine State Library, and Maine State Museum all have holdings related to the Aroostook War that show the impact the war had on the State. A sample of these records can be found in exhibits in all three agencies. These records are important as a tool for researching this conflict, which did play an important role in establishing Maine’s northern boundary with Canada.