Monday, October 24, 2011

Findling_Territory_Toledo Renegotiated

Negotiating the Toledo Strip

History: The Toledo War of 1835 ended in Michigan relinquishing control of Toledo to Ohio at the compromise of gaining the upper peninsula from what was to become Wisconsin. While the worth of the U.P. is undeniable in terms of its natural resources, it was at the forced upon Michigan by then president Andrew Jackson as a way to make Jackson's allies in Ohio happy at all costs. The disputed territory known as the Toledo Strip had been included in Michigan's boundaries per the instructions of the federal survey, however a separate Ohio-based survey set the Ohio-Michigan line further north ensuring total access to Lake Eire and Maumee Bay. Michigan responded by occupying Toledo with 1,000 militia members against 600 Ohio militia men stationed just south of the Maumee River in Perrysburg. Skirmishes were fought with no loss of life until the 'war' finally ended in December of 1836 with a bankrupt Michigan Territory conceding defeat.

The Site: Michigan - Ohio border from Lake Erie to Indiana. Area is approximately 4 miles by 80 miles and is demarcated via the Ohio constitutional survey of 1802. The state line is governed by Michigan and Ohio on their respective sides. As a major city on a border condition, Toledo is comprised of both Ohio and Michigan residents working and traveling in and out of the area. Misuses of Toledo for Michiganders include the ability to purchase and bring back illegal fireworks for the 4th of July. Otherwise, Toledo is a gateway for anyone traveling south east from the greater Detroit area. As Michiganders have had to live with this disgraceful past for 175 years, Toledo has proliferated into an industrial and cultural paradise. Locations such as the University of Toledo, the Glass Museum, the Mud Hen's Stadium (minor league baseball team to the Detroit Tigers), the Toledo Zoo, and Chrysler manufacturing facilities make it a place that can no longer be ignored as a vital component in Michigan's territorial fabric. Agricultural land to the west of the city as well as commuter and freight rail connections, and airport, two major highways, and access to Lake Erie further the argument for why Toledo should be annexed by Michigan.

Disbalances: Since the end of the Toledo War, Ohio has assumed control of the area as mandated by the US government. Ohio and Michigan have always had tense relations, especially in college football, however it is well known that cars with Michigan plates are likely to be ticketed driving in Ohio. Documentaries have been done attempting to define the pro-Michigan/Pro-Ohio State demographic in Toledo, which is an indicator of which state those participating are loyal to. The results are however inconclusive, indicating an identity crisis among many Toledo residents. It is a group of people who could be swayed either way depending on the circumstances. If Michigan were to re-occupy Toledo, it would need to secure the trust of all the confused people who currently reside within the strip, giving them an opportunity to firmly re-establish their identity within the place they rightfully belong.

Additional Reading

The Toledo War : the first Michigan-Ohio rivalry / Don Faber.

The facts and historical events of the Toledo war of 1835 / W.V. Way

Map exhibiting the country between lakes Michigan and Erie and the contested boundary lines / David H. Burr.

Ohio vs. Michigan : guns across the Maumee Kit Lane.


  1. You describe Toledo as an industrial and cultural paradise. Is this because of the unique border situation of the strip? Besides needing to fight for Michigan's dignity, are there any specific advantages/disadvantages to the current border organization that create opportunities for creative intervention?

  2. The displacement of the geopolitical border seems like a standard problem in the history of territorial disputes, but your argument that the gain would be cultural rather than geopolitical is an interesting one. The strength of the territory isn't located in its mineral wealth or location in terms of acting as a key point along some important route, but instead the territory is understood as a cultural product/project. The physical place (and architecture) plays a significant role in both arguments; how might the same idea be played out at the scale of individuals instead of states?