Ebeneezer Greely letter from jail, New Brunswick, 1837


Ebeneezer Stevens Greely (1797-1869), who was taking a census of Madawaska for the state of Maine in 1837, was arrested by Canadian authorities, an act that helped to precipitate the Aroostook War, a dispute over the boundary between Maine and New Brunswick.

The federal government required the census for distribution of funds.

Greely wrote to Maj. Gen. Isaac Hodsdon of the Maine militia, from the Frederickton, New Brunswick, jail. He tells Hodsdon, "It is high time that this boundary question should be settled -- If the state of Maine have any claims to this disputed territory she must maintain them ..."

He reported that his census so far had determined there were 1,247 residents of Madawaska, but the total probably was about 2,900, mostly French.

He wrote that the French "dread the calamities of war, and rather suffer than fight ..."

He noted that the people of Madawaska were suffering because New Brunswick prevented them from cutting timber and therefore making money. Weather was preventing the residents from raising crops to feed themselves.

He concluded, "Remembering that I am under the screws of British authority that I can not help squirming and speaking out to my friends in my humble way."


Item has a transcription view a full transcription

Please post your comment below to share with others. If you'd like to privately share a comment or correction with MMN staff, please use this form.