Toledo War

By Eric Zuelch

The Toledo War was a dispute between the Ohio and the then Michigan Territory in the summer of 1835 over the Toledo Strip, a strip of land shared by the two that houses the city of Toledo. At first, the area was believed to be part of Ohio due to a survey of the land orchestrated by the state. However, the survey was performed by a former Ohio governor and Michigan had their own survey performed, revealing that the Toledo strip was actually a part of their territory rather than the neighboring state. The main reason the Toledo strip was desired by both Ohio and Michigan was access to Lake Eerie, with river travel being the quickest methods to obtaining goods.

Tensions truly escalated when the Michigan Territory wanted statehood, something the federal government would only allow if the territory relinquished their claim on the Toledo strip. When Ohio learned of this, they swiftly created Lucas County in the area, naming it after the state’s then current governor Robert Lucas. In retaliation, Michigan threatened to arrest anyone in the strip who claimed it was a part of Ohio. Not long after, militias in both states started to form, ready to take up arms against each other.

Back in Washington, D.C. the president at the time, Andrew Jackson, was conflicted on what to do. Legally Michigan was in the right, but if he wanted to win reelection, he needed the swing state of Ohio. Back in the conflict zone, tensions were brewing and both the state and territory were ready to fight to the death to protect what each thought was rightfully theirs. The entire conflict lasted only three days and there were no deaths and only one wounded militia man from Michigan. The total number of shots fired was around fifty, with most actions on both sides taken during the conflict being spying by local sheriffs. Jackson had the governor of the Michigan Territory removed and, realizing they could not become a state if they kept fighting, Michigan surrendered. However, as a consolation, they were given what would become known as their Upper Peninsula. After statehood, Michigan discovered great mineral wealth in the Upper Peninsula, particularly iron and copper, and a successful mining community was formed in the state. After winning the land, Ohio drained the swampland in the area and turned it into farmland.