The Webster Ashburton Treaty was a negotiation between the US and Britain signed August 9, 1842 primarily regarding territorial boundaries in the Northeast. It also addressed subjects such as the suppression of slave trade and extradition between the countries. Based upon the diplomatic interaction between Secretary of the State, Daniel Webster, and British Foreign Secretary Lord Ashburton, it accomplished the following:

  • Disputed borders between New Brunswick and Maine were defined with precision (the US got 7,015 square miles and Britain got 5,012 square miles)
  • Borders concerning the Great Lakes area were also more clearly defined
  • Several bodies of water, including St. John's River, were allowed open navigation
  • Initial decisions regarding extradition of international criminals were made
  • The US agreed to sentry warships off the coast of Africa in an attempt to reduce slave trade, but rejected British inspections of ships that may be carrying slaves

The Webster Ashburton Treaty is historically important because served as an exemplary precedent in peaceful, diplomatic relations between Britain and the US. It also prevented the Aroostook War of 1839 from actually taking place...

The ambiguity of the 1783 Treaty of Paris is one of the reasons this treaty came about. Due to the fuzzily outlined boundaries, conflicts slowly grew between US and British lumberjacks in the New Brunswick/Maine area . Rights over who would get logs and the use of the rivers for shipping became a such a point of conflict that New Brunswick officials imprisoned several US citizens, which prompted militia from Maine to seize the territory. However, the treaty was crafted before any fighting began.