CLOSE
Original image

3 American Border Disputes You Probably Never Studied

Original image

This article was originally posted last year.

When America was being divvied up, surveyors and cartographers were as accurate as possible drawing the boundaries between these new regions. Unfortunately, mistakes were still made. And minor map mistakes led to years of fighting—sometimes in the courts, and sometimes on the field of battle.

1. The Toledo War: Ohio vs. Michigan

The story of The Toledo War actually begins in 1787, when the U.S. government enacted the Northwest Ordinance. The Ordinance described the border between Ohio and Michigan as "an east and west line drawn through the southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan." Congress used the best map available at the time, The Mitchell Map (above), to create this east-west line, putting most of the west shoreline of Lake Erie within Ohio's borders. This would include Maumee Bay, where the Maumee River and Lake Erie meet, giving Ohio a significant economic advantage for shipping.

However, it was discovered in 1803 that The Mitchell Map was incorrect—the tip of Lake Michigan was actually farther south. A straight line from the correct southern point would have cost Ohio almost all of Lake Erie. Hoping to avoid this loss, Ohio changed the description of the border so that it now ran northeast from the tip of Lake Michigan to Maumee Bay. This new description wasn't an issue until 1833, when Michigan asked for statehood. Michigan kept the old Northwest Ordinance line description, but drew it from the correct tip of Lake Michigan. The overlap between Ohio and Michigan's descriptions created the "Toledo Strip," a ribbon of land five to eight miles wide, encompassing present-day Toledo.
Toledo-Strip-Location.jpg

In an effort to make Michigan concede the Strip, Ohio's governor, Robert Lucas, used his political connections to convince Congress to deny Michigan statehood. Upset by Lucas' scheme, Michigan governor Stevens Mason enacted the Pains and Penalties Act in February 1835. This law said that anyone caught in the Strip supporting the state of Ohio could be jailed for up to five years and fined $1,000 (about $24,000 in today's money). To enforce his act, Mason raised a militia of 1,000 men and stationed them inside Toledo. In response, Governor Lucas sent 600 men. It was a fight just waiting to happen.

For the next five months, a series of skirmishes, arrests, lawsuits, and general chest thumping occurred in the Toledo Strip. But no one was killed or seriously injured until July, when Michigan sheriff Joseph Wood attempted to arrest Major Benjamin Stickney for voting in an Ohio election. Stickney and his sons, named—I kid you not—One Stickney and Two Stickney, resisted. In the melee, Two stabbed Sheriff Wood with a pocketknife.

Though the sheriff's wound was not life threatening, this scuffle was enough to instigate peace talks, and troops were withdrawn. Still, the political dispute raged on until December 1836 when Congress offered Michigan a compromise—give up the Toledo Strip, but gain statehood and a large portion of the Upper Peninsula instead. Michigan had spent so much maintaining the militia's presence in the Strip that they were quickly running out of money. They weren't happy about it, but they had no choice but to accept the compromise.

Ohio-State-Michigan.jpgEven after the deal, legal battles between the states occurred periodically until 1973, when it took a Supreme Court ruling to resolve claims to the waters of Lake Erie. Now Ohio and Michigan citizens channel their border war tensions onto the college football gridiron. Ohio State vs. Michigan is one of the great sports rivalries. And lately, bragging rights have gone to the Buckeyes—Ohio State has won the last four meetings.

2. The Pig War: United States vs. Great Britain

On June 15, 1846, the British and U.S. governments signed The Oregon Treaty, establishing the border between Oregon Country and the Columbia District in Canada. The border would reside from the 49th parallel, down through the middle of the channel that separates Vancouver Island from the mainland, and then out to the Pacific Ocean. The only maps available at the time were a little fuzzy on details, though, so neither government knew there were actually two channels that separated Vancouver Island from the mainland—the Haro Strait to the west and the Rosario Strait to the east. Stuck in the middle of those two straits were the San Juan Islands.

Pig-War-Map.jpg

Both Britain and the United States claimed the islands, but the dispute was dormant for many years. Then, on June 15, 1859—exactly 13 years after the Oregon Treaty was signed—Lyman Cutlar, an American farmer, noticed a large, black boar rooting in his garden. On the other side of Cutlar's fence was Charles Griffin, an Irishman, who sat laughing as the pig destroyed Cutlar's crops. Annoyed, Cutlar took out his rifle and shot the boar dead.

After cooling down, Cutlar offered to pay $10 for the pig, but Griffin refused, demanding $100 instead. Cutlar countered by saying he shouldn't have to pay anything since the animal was trespassing on his land. Tensions mounted and British authorities threatened to arrest the American, who then called the United States for protection. Both governments responded to the situation by sending troops to the San Juan Islands.

The dispute escalated for the next two years. At its peak, Britain had amassed five warships carrying 167 guns and manned with 2,140 soldiers. The Americans had a still-respectable 461 troops with 14 cannons in reinforced positions. Wisely, the commanding officers saw how silly the whole thing was and demanded that neither side fire unless fired upon; they knew it wasn't worth dying over a pig.

Eventually it was agreed the armies should leave 100 men each and send the rest home. This small military occupation lasted for another 12 years without a single shot being fired. In fact, the occupying troops became friendly with one another, celebrating holidays and even playing games during their stay.

The dispute was finally resolved in October of 1872. Canada suggested a compromise boundary running through the islands, but the final border ran through the Haro Strait to the west, making all the islands part of the United States. In November, the British pulled their troops; in July, the Americans left as well. The only casualty of this "war" was a hungry farm animal.

3. The Honey War: Missouri vs. Iowa

Aside from incorrect maps, surveying mistakes have also been a major factor in American border disputes. In 1816, renowned surveyor John Sullivan was hired to map out the northern border of Missouri. In his description of the boundary, fittingly called "The Sullivan Line," he referenced a latitude line passing through "the rapids of the River Des Moines." Little did he know this simple phrase would come to complicate the state's history for years to come.
Honey-War-Map.jpg

Twenty years later, the Sullivan Line was resurveyed after Missouri annexed land to the west. Sullivan had died, so Joseph Brown was hired. Going by the somewhat vague description of the rapids, Brown searched on the banks of the Des Moines River until he found what he thought was the correct location. In fact, he was 9.5 miles north of Sullivan's designation, accidentally carving out a large strip of new land for Missouri.

The discrepancy in Brown's Line was not noticed until two years later, when Congress was establishing the Iowa Territory. Congress decided that Iowa's southern border would simply be where it met Missouri's northern border. This required yet another survey, this time done by Major Albert Lea. Looking at Brown and Sullivan's descriptions of "the rapids," Lea decided there were a handful of possible spots for this landmark: the first was at Brown's Line; the second was at Sullivan's Line; and the third possibility was south of Sullivan's Line, 15 miles into Missouri. This new location was where the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers met, a place referred to as "The Des Moines Rapids." As one might guess, Missouri preferred the Brown Line, while Iowa preferred the new line at The Des Moines Rapids.

Without waiting for Congress to decide on the survey, Lilburn Boggs, Missouri's governor, ordered his officials to enforce Missouri law up to the Brown Line. In response, Iowa's governor, Robert Lucas (yes, the same Governor Lucas involved in The Toledo War went on to become the governor of Iowa), demanded that Missouri keep out of the disputed area. Tensions rose until a Missouri sheriff attempted to collect taxes in November 1839. The Iowans ran him off, but not before he decided to collect his due in another way—by chopping down three trees filled with honey, an important local commodity, as partial payment.

The loss of the honey trees set off a political firestorm. Lucas sent 300 militiamen to defend the border; Boggs sent 800 men of his own. Cooler heads prevailed by late December, and both governors agreed to withdraw their troops. Not a single shot was fired. A temporary boundary was drawn until 1851, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the border should be placed down the middle of the strip of disputed land, along the original Sullivan Line of 1816.

See also...

3 Controversial Maps
"¢ The Confederacy's Plan to Conquer Latin America

Rob Lammle is probably the only cartographer you'll ever meet who has an English degree. Read more on his own site, spacemonkeyx.com.

twitterbanner.jpg

shirts-555.jpg

tshirtsubad_static-11.jpg

Original image
DreamWorks
arrow
entertainment
15 Must-Watch Facts About The Ring
Original image
DreamWorks

An urban legend about a videotape that kills its viewers seven days after they see it turns out to be true. To her increasing horror, reporter Rachel Keller (then-newcomer Naomi Watts) discovers this after her niece is one of four teenage victims, and is in a race against the clock to uncover the mystery behind the girl in the video before her and her son’s time is up.

Released 15 years ago, on October 18, 2002, The Ring began a trend of both remaking Japanese horror films in a big way, and giving you nightmares about creepy creatures crawling out of your television. Here are some facts about the film that you can feel free to pass along to anybody, guilt-free.

1. DREAMWORKS BOUGHT THE AMERICAN RIGHTS TO RINGU FOR $1 MILLION.

There were conflicting stories over how executive producer Roy Lee came to see the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu, Hideo Nakata's adaptation of the 1991 novel Ring by Kôji Suzuki. Lee said two different friends gave him a copy of Ringu in January 2001, which he loved and immediately gave to DreamWorks executive Mark Sourian, who agreed to purchase the rights. But Lee’s close friend Mike Macari worked at Fine Line Features, which had an American remake of Ringu in development before January 2001. Macari said he showed Lee Ringu much earlier. Macari and Lee were both listed as executive producers for The Ring.

2. THE DIRECTOR FIRST SAW RINGU ON A POOR QUALITY VHS TAPE, WHICH ADDED TO ITS CREEPINESS.

Gore Verbinski had previously directed MouseHunt. He said the first time he "watched the original Ringu was on a VHS tape that was probably seven generations down. It was really poor quality, but actually that added to the mystique, especially when I realized that this was a movie about a videotape." Naomi Watts struggled to find a VHS copy of Ringu while shooting in the south of Wales. When she finally got a hold of one she watched it on a very small TV alone in her hotel room. "I remember being pretty freaked out," Watts said. "I just saw it the once, and that was enough to get me excited about doing it."

3. THE RING AND RINGU ARE ABOUT 50 PERCENT DIFFERENT.

Naomi Watts in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

Verbinski estimated that, for the American version, they "changed up to 50 percent of it. The basic premise is intact, the story is intact, the ghost story, the story of Samara, the child." Storylines involving the characters having ESP, a volcano, “dream logic,” and references to “brine and goblins” were taken out.

4. IT RAINED ALMOST EVERY DAY WHEN THEY FILMED IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON.

The weather added to the “atmosphere of dread,” according to the film's production notes. Verbinski said the setting allowed them to create an “overcast mood” of dampness and isolation.

5. THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER WAS INFLUENCED BY ANDREW WYETH.

Artist Andrew Wyeth tended to use muted, somber earth tones in his work. "In Wyeth's work, the trees are always dormant, and the colors are muted earth tones," explained production designer Tom Duffield. "It's greys, it's browns, it's somber colors; it's ripped fabrics in the windows. His work has a haunting flavor that I felt would add to the mystique of this movie, so I latched on to it."

6. THERE WERE RINGS EVERYWHERE.

The carpeting and wallpaper patterns, the circular kitchen knobs, the doctor’s sweater design, Rachel’s apartment number, and more were purposely designed with the film's title in mind.

7. WATTS AND MARTIN HENDERSON HAD A FRIENDLY INTERNATIONAL RIVALRY.

Martin Henderson and Naomi Watts star in 'The Ring' (1992)
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

The New Zealand-born Henderson played Noah, Rachel’s ex-husband. Since Watts is from Australia, Henderson said that, "Between takes, we'd joke around with each other's accents and play into the whole New Zealand-Australia rivalry."

8. THE TWO WEREN’T SURE IF THE MOVIE WAS GOING TO BE SCARY ENOUGH.

After shooting some of the scenes, and not having the benefit of seeing what they'd look like once any special effects were added, Henderson and Watts worried that the final result would not be scary enough. "There were moments when Naomi and I would look at each other and say, 'This is embarrassing, people are going to laugh,'" Henderson told the BBC." You just hope that somebody makes it scary or you're going to look like an idiot!"

9. CHRIS COOPER WAS CUT FROM THE MOVIE.

Cooper played a child murderer in two scenes which were initially meant to bookend the film. He unconvincingly claimed to Rachel that he found God in the beginning, and in the end she gave him the cursed tape. Audiences at test screenings were distracted that an actor they recognized disappears for most of the film, so he was cut out entirely.

10. THEY TRIED TO GET RID OF ALL OF THE SHADOWS.

Verbinski and cinematographer Bojan Bazelli used the lack of sunlight in Washington to remove the characters’ shadows. The two wanted to keep the characters feeling as if “they’re floating a little bit, in space.”

11. THE TREE WAS NICKNAMED "LUCILLE."

The red Japanese maple tree in the cursed video was named after the famous redheaded actress Lucille Ball. The tree was fake, built out of steel tubing and plaster. The Washington wind blew it over three different times. The night they put up the tree in Los Angeles, the wind blew at 60 miles per hour and knocked Lucille over yet again. "It was very strange," said Duffield.

12. MOESKO ISLAND IS A FUNCTIONING LIGHTHOUSE.

Moesko Island Lighthouse is Yaquina Head Lighthouse, at the mouth of the Yaquina River, a mile west of Agate Beach, Oregon. The website Rachel checks, MoeskoIslandLighthouse.com, used to actually exist as a one-page website, which gave general information on the fictional place. You can read it here.

13. A WEBSITE WAS CREATED BY DREAMWORKS TO PROMOTE THE MOVIE AND ADD TO ITS MYTHOLOGY.

Before and during the theatrical release, if you logged into AnOpenLetter.com, you could read a message in white lettering against a black background warning about what happens if you watch the cursed video (you can read it here). By November 24, 2002, it was a standard official website made for the movie, set up by DreamWorks.

14. VERBINSKI DIDN’T HAVE FUN DIRECTING THE MOVIE.

“It’s no fun making a horror film," admitted Verbinski. "You get into some darker areas of the brain and after a while everything becomes a bit depressing.”

15. DAVEIGH CHASE SCARED HERSELF.

Daveigh Chase in 'The Ring'
© 2002 - DreamWorks LLC - All Rights Reserved

When Daveigh Chase, who played Samara, saw The Ring in theaters, she had to cover her eyes out of fear—of herself. Some people she met after the movie came out were also afraid of her.

Original image
Land Cover CCI, ESA
arrow
Afternoon Map
European Space Agency Releases First High-Res Land Cover Map of Africa
Original image
Land Cover CCI, ESA

This isn’t just any image of Africa. It represents the first of its kind: a high-resolution map of the different types of land cover that are found on the continent, released by The European Space Agency, as Travel + Leisure reports.

Land cover maps depict the different physical materials that cover the Earth, whether that material is vegetation, wetlands, concrete, or sand. They can be used to track the growth of cities, assess flooding, keep tabs on environmental issues like deforestation or desertification, and more.

The newly released land cover map of Africa shows the continent at an extremely detailed resolution. Each pixel represents just 65.6 feet (20 meters) on the ground. It’s designed to help researchers model the extent of climate change across Africa, study biodiversity and natural resources, and see how land use is changing, among other applications.

Developed as part of the Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Land Cover project, the space agency gathered a full year’s worth of data from its Sentinel-2A satellite to create the map. In total, the image is made from 90 terabytes of data—180,000 images—taken between December 2015 and December 2016.

The map is so large and detailed that the space agency created its own online viewer for it. You can dive further into the image here.

And keep watch: A better map might be close at hand. In March, the ESA launched the Sentinal-2B satellite, which it says will make a global map at a 32.8 feet-per-pixel (10 meters) resolution possible.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios